Hair loss in women is just that- when a women experiences unexpected heavy loss of hair. Generally, 50-100 single hairs are shed per day. Hair shedding is part of a natural balance- some hairs fall out while others grow in. when the balance is interrupted- when hair falls out and less hair grows in- hair loss happens. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia.
About one-third of women experience hair loss (alopecia) at some time in their lives which can severely affect their emotional well-being and quality of life. The main type of hair loss in women is the same as it is in men. It is called androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern hair loss. There are many potential causes of hair loss, including medical conditions, physical or emotional stress and medications. If you notice unusual hair loss of any kind, its important to see your primary health care provider or Dermatologist in order to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. Hair loss in women can be frustrating, however in the last few years there has been an increase in resources for coping with the problem.
The Causes and Risk factors for Hair Loss
Most hair loss is not associated with internal or systemic disease, nor is a poor diet a frequent factor. Hair may simply thin as a result of predetermined genetic factors and the ageing process. Illness, emotional trauma, protein deprivation (during strict dieting) and hormonal changes like those in pregnancy and menopause may cause hair loss.
Several health conditions, including thyroid disease, iron deficiency anemia, and secondary syphilis can cause hair loss as well as treatments for illnesses such as chemotherapy treatment for cancer patients. While thyroid blood tests and other lab tests, including a complete blood count(CBC), on women who have ordinary hair loss are usually normal, it is important to exclude treatable causes of hair loss.
Hair Loss Treatment For Women
Medications are the most common treatment for hair loss in women. They include the following;
Minoxidil (Rogaine, generic versions).This drug was initially introduced as a treatment for high blood pressure, however research studies confirmed that minoxidil applied directly to the scalp could stimulate hair growth. Clearly, minoxidil is not a miracle drug. While it can produce some new growth of fine hair in some- not all- women, it can’t restore the full density of the lost hair. Around two months is the time it takes to start seeing results. The effect often peaks at around four months, but it could take longer, so plan on a trial of six to twelve months. If Minoxidil works for you, you will need to keep using it to maintain the results. If you stop, you will start to lose hair again.
Anti-androgens. Androgens including testosterone and other “male” hormones can accelerate hair loss in women. Some women may benefit from the addition of the anti-androgen drug spironolactone (Aldactone) for treatment of androgenic alopecia.
Iron supplements. Iron deficiency could be a cause of hair loss in some women. Your doctor may test your blood iron level, particularly if you are a vegetarian, or have heavy menstrual bleeding or a history of anemia.If you do have a deficiency, you will need to take a supplement and it may stop your hair loss.
Preventing Hair Loss
Since there is no structural problem with the hair regarding female -pattern hair loss, women should continue their regular styling regimen. It is advised to skip braids or ponytails that may pull on the hair at the root. Anti – dandruff shampoos that contain an antifungal and or an antibacterial may be helpful too. Adequate levels of iron and vitamin B are advised. Treatment of underlying medical conditions like thyroid disease, anemia and hormonal imbalances may be useful in prevention.
Losing your hair can leave you feeling stressed and can affect your self-confidence, however it is incredibly important to realize just how common female hair loss is- and that if you are experiencing it, you are not alone and its nothing to be embarrassed about. If you are experiencing excessive hair loss, talk to your doctor or dermatologist as early diagnosis can help to develop a treatment plan that prevents further hair loss.