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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Understanding Hair Loss in Women

Most of us have heard of the expression that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory, so what happens when they start to lose it? Hair loss has long been considered an overwhelmingly male problem, but it has become clear in recent years that even those identified as female at birth experience the challenges that come with hair loss.


Some various causes and factors may trigger hair loss in women, and we’ll take a closer look at them in this post. We’ll also be sure to cover the symptoms of hair loss, and the potential treatment options available to us thanks to modern medicine.


Let’s jump right in.

Signs You Might Be Losing Your Hair

Many women, especially those with full heads of hair, expect to see some strands of hair in their hairbrushes or their shower drains as part of their normal life so at what point should they consider it a problem? Here’s a quick look at the danger signs to look out for:


●     Noticing missing patches of hair on your head or patches of noticeably thinner hair

●     Noticing that more hair than usual is falling out as you brush your hair, in the shower, in the sink, on your pillows, and so on

●     Seeing your ponytail noticeably shrink in size

●     Noticing that you can see your scalp through your hair when you previously could not


To be on the safe side, you need to get a more qualified opinion before you embark on any course of treatment. Depending on the severity of your situation, your healthcare might consider putting you through any or some of the following diagnostic tests, some of them being much simpler than others. They include:


●     Carrying out a tracheoscopy and close examination under a microscope

●     Pulling gently on your hair to ascertain how loose the follicles are

●     A scalp biopsy is where a tiny piece of your scalp is taken out and tests are carried out on it

●     Blood tests that measure the levels of hormones such as thyroid and sex hormones as well as the levels of vitamins such as zinc, iron, vitamin B, and vitamin D

●     To get a clearer picture of what the problem might be, your physician will also ask you multiple relevant questions such as what your diet consists of, the history of hair loss in your family, your current stress levels, the hair products you currently use, any medication you might currently be under, and so on.


Types of Hair Loss

There are three main types of hair loss that women are subjected to, and these are:

●     Female pattern hair loss (FPHL)/Androgenetic alopecia/female pattern alopecia: This is the most common type of hair loss, and involves the thinning of hair at the top and sides of your head.

●     Telogen effluvium: This is the result of an increase in the number of hair follicles growing up to the telogen phase, as this is the stage during which hair falls out.

●     Anagen effluvium: This comes about as a result of medications or chemicals entering a person’s system and effectively poisoning growing hair follicles. Procedures such as chemotherapy are a good example of this.


Causes of Hair Loss in Women

There are plenty of reasons that may lead to women’s hair loss, and they are split between causes that might be influenced by our behavior and natural causes beyond our immediate control. These include:


●     Hairstyles: Traction alopecia is caused by tight braids and tight ponytails that lead to the gradual thinning of hair by sheer physical force that damages hair follicles.

●     Vitamin deficiency: Hair needs protein and various minerals and vitamins to grow and be healthy

●     Rapid weight loss and extreme dieting

●     Toxic substances: Radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and certain medications

●     Extreme shock and physical stress: This might include traumatic events such as childbirth, severe illness, surgery, anemia, and so on

●     Supplements and medications: There are various vitamins and medications such as Vitamin A, gout medication, blood pressure medicine, and so on that will negatively influence your hair growth

●     Severe emotional stress: Some situations affect us mentally and have an influence on our physical body, such as hair loss.

●     Genetic factors: While this is more common in men, a history of baldness in your family might be transmitted down to you.

●     Menopause: At a certain age, a woman may begin thinning owing to the drop in the levels of hormones such as estrogen in her body.

●     Diseases: Various diseases will negatively affect your hair growth such as psoriasis, thyroid disease, vitiligo, scleroderma, scalp ringworm, celiac disease, Addison’s disease, systemic lupus erythematosus, trichorrhexis, hypopituitarism, certain allergies, etc. 

Hair Loss Treatment Options

The hair loss treatment options for women’s hair loss available to us will largely be determined by the cause of the hair loss and the extent of its severity. Some interventions require medical supervision while others require readily accessible products. Some solutions are:


●     Time: In many cases, the only solution to your issue will be to give your hair tie to recover. Scenarios such as physical and emotional trauma, for example, will heal up on their own.

●     Spironolactone: This is also sold as Aldactone, and works by influencing hormone production in the patient’s body.

●     Minoxidil 2%: This over-the-counter drug comes in the form of a foam that’s meant to be rubbed on the affected area. While it is generally marketed toward men, it has been shown to achieve results for both sexes and is a long-term solution.

●     Corticosteroids: These are a type of steroid that’s injected into the affected area. This will reduce inflammation and help people suffering from hair loss due to the effects of alopecia areata.

●     Finasteride: This is an FDA-approved hair loss drug that is designed for men and only prescribed to women who do not intend to have children in the future.

●     Plasma injections: These involve the introduction of plasma to the affected area, which rejuvenates the hair follicles and spurs them to resume hair generation.

●     Hair transplant surgery: The option of surgery is also available to affected patients, whereby surgeons take out bits of a patient’s scalp from areas with healthy hair and transplant them onto the bald areas. Because such procedures are rarely covered by insurance, they are prohibitively expensive for most people.


Final Thoughts

Note that while women’s hair loss can be endlessly frustrating, not all cases will have effective solutions. Before you decide on any course of action, be sure to consult a healthcare professional to ensure that you only resort to safe, effective remedies.

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