Hair Loss in Women

Contrary to belief that only males suffer from hair loss, there is actually a growing number of women who has experienced this unfortunate condition. The American Academy of Dermatology even confirmed that it is a worsening problem in the United States, affecting over 30 million women. The sad fact is every female prides herself for her hair and losing it can be quite discomforting. The reasons for hair loss in women vary and here are some of the usual causes:

Genetic Pre-disposition

Sometimes, hair loss runs in the family. Although this is more likely in males than females, losing hair can be caused by an inherited disorder in the levels of androgen in the body. These androgens are responsible for interfering with the natural process of hair growth. It interrupts the hair growth cycle by binding to enzymes and forming a DHT-androgen component that sticks to the hair follicles. Build up of these DHT-androgens causes the follicle to shrink, leading to hair loss in women.

Medical Conditions

Another possible cause of hair loss in women is if they are suffering from medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome. Hair loss, in this case, is said to be caused by changes in the hormone levels due to the illness. There are also autoimmune disorders that can also lead to hair loss such as Alopecia areata. Chronic diseases as well as thyroid problems and anemia are also known to cause hair loss.

Because of these possible causes, hair loss in women can be classified into several types.

  1. Androgenetic Alopecia – this condition is characterized by a diffused thinning of the areas on the scalp region, unlike males who experience baldness patterns. Androgenetic alopecia is caused by an increase in androgen levels in the body, possibly caused by a cyst in the ovary, taking of contraceptive pills, menopause and pregnancy. Unfortunately, this condition is found to be hereditary.
  2. Telogen Effluvium- women who gave birth or suffered from extreme emotional stress experience hair loss termed as telogen effluvium. Although alarming, this condition is temporary in nature. It could last for as long as 3 months and could be frustrating. A full-blown condition of telogen effluvium could cause the loss of handfuls of hair. If a stressful situation persists, the woman will continue to lose her hair, unless that stressor is removed.
  3. Anagen Effluvium – this is another type of hair loss in women that is caused by damage to the hair follicle. In most cases, women who have undergone chemotherapy are the most likely to suffer from this condition. Because the hair follicles were chemically-damaged, mitotic division, particularly in the anagen phase, is halted. In addition to this, hair shafts are damaged as well, causing extreme hair loss. It is typical for these women to lose 90 percent of their hair after chemotherapy.
  4. Traction alopecia – when the hair follicles are subjected to unnecessary yet tight pulling, hair loss is unavoidable. If the pulling stops, damage to the scalp is minimized and hair growth can go back to normal.

Hair Loss Treatments

Because of the growing number of women suffering from hair loss, the market is currently filled with so many hair loss products. Some of these products include:

  1. Shampoos and conditioners – applied to the hair directly. There are products that contain natural ingredients while some contain effective hair-loss chemicals like Minoxidil or Rogaine. These shampoos and conditioners can be considered as topical treatment.
  2. Pills – for women with androgenetic alopecia, the use of hair loss pills might reduce the incidence of hair loss. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the hair loss pill Propecia and allows it sale over the counter. Although many doctors are wary of prescribing drugs to women suffering from hair loss, these hair loss pills are given when diagnosis of the hair loss problem is accurate and complete. Some of the popular drugs include Aldactone, Tagamet, Cyproterone Acetate and even birth control pills.

Hair Loss Diagnosis

Understanding the causes of hair loss in women will help your doctor determine which treatment is right for you. it can also be said that having a healthy lifestyle will minimize the intensity or degree of hair loss. To be sure, you can be subjected to the following tests.

  1. Screening for changes in hormone levels including prolactin, testosterone and follicular stimulating hormone
  2. Checking for levels of serum iron and ferritin
  3. Complete blood count
  4. Screening for syphilis
  5. Pulling of hair
  6. Scalp biopsy
  7. Checking of hair shaft density