Hair Loss in Women: Understanding the Causes and Treatment Options

It’s common to lose some hair strands every day. If you lose 50-100 hairs in a day, you shouldn’t be worried at all. However, if you’re losing more than that while you’re in the shower or combing, it can be a matter of concern. While hair loss may be noticeable in men, women tend to experience a receding hairline or hair thinning which isn’t noticeable unless they start shedding a significant amount of hair daily. The most common hair loss in women is Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL) or Androgenic Alopecia that affects a whopping 30 million women in the US. And that’s without saying that 1 in 3 women will experience noticeable hair loss at some point in her life. You need not freak out as there are plenty of ways to recover from it. But before we discuss the potential treatments available for hair regrowth, it becomes essential to list down the various types of hair loss and the causes behind it.

The Different Types of Hair Loss

Hair loss can affect both young and old women. A woman may experience thinning which may be gradual or a total loss of hair which is sudden. It’s best to take help from a dermatologist who can help diagnose and treat your hair loss.

  1. Androgenetic Alopecia – Also known as Female Pattern Hair Loss, it is caused by androgens in genetically susceptible women and men. If you have a family history of hair loss, chances are that you might experience hair loss too. It generally occurs in women aged 12 to 40 years.
  2. Alopecia Areata – Alopecia areata or patchy hair loss is an autoimmune disorder that causes hair to fall in round patches. It affects approximately 7 million people in the US and women are more likely to suffer from this problem than men. It can occur on the scalp, eyebrows, and eyelashes.
  3. Traction Alopecia – Traction alopecia or Traumatic alopecia occurs as a result of repeatedly pulling hair. This form of hair loss is common in African-American women. Vigorous combing, chemical bleaches, and making use of tight rollers and braiding causes a stress traction injury resulting in hair loss.
  4. Cicatricial Alopecia – Also known as Scarring Alopecia, it is a rare disorder that causes irreversible damage to the hair follicles, replacing them with scar tissue.
  5. Telogen Effluvium – It is a temporary form of hair loss that usually happens after a stressful experience. It pushes the hair follicles into the resting phase i.e. telogen phase. Thus, causing hair to fall out.

It is important to keep a check on how many hairs you lose daily. While the amount of hair you shed might be considered normal, it becomes essential to know that it doesn’t turn into something concerning. And even if it does, your doctor can help you find the root cause of the problem.

Causes of Hair Loss

Hair loss can have a variety of potential underlying causes. But before we dig deeper into this topic, let’s ponder upon the life cycle of a hair.

Hair follicles go through 3 phases of hair growth, namely:

  1. Anagen Phase – This is the period of growth in which hair actively grows from the roots for 2-7 years. During this period, your hair can grow anywhere between 18-30 inches.
  2. Catagen Phase – This is the transition phase that lasts for 2-3 weeks. In this phase, hair stops growing and detaches itself from the blood supply.
  3. Telogen Phase – This is the resting phase that lasts for 3 months. During this phase, the hair follicle is completely inactive.

By running a diagnosis and examining your scalp, your doctor can identify the possible causes of hair loss.

These include:

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormones play an immense role in regulating the hair growth cycle. Reduced production of female hormones estrogen and progesterone can cause hair loss in women.

An excess of androgens (male hormones) can also result in hair loss. This occurs in women with an endocrine disorder such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) which leads to cysts in women’s ovaries.

Furthermore, women can experience thinning on their scalp after going off hormonal birth control pills.

Stress

Stress contributes to almost every illness today. And it is no brainer that stress causes your hair to fall out. Both emotional and physical stress can lead to hair loss. While stress-related hair loss is temporary, you should consider different situations that might be causing stress in your daily routine. Stress also triggers scalp problems and affects your digestive system which lays a negative impact on your hair.

Medical Conditions

An underlying health issue can be a cause of concern and act as a warning sign for you. Various health conditions that can cause hair loss include:

  • Hypothyroidism/Hyperthyroidism – the thyroid gland is responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism. Hypothyroidism can result in anemia that can impact the growth of hair follicles.
  • Ringworm – it causes scaly and painful gray or red patches on the scalp. Also known as Tinea Capitis, the fungus gets into the hair fibers of the affected area causing the hair to break off easily. This leaves a bald patch on the skin.
  • Hodgkin’s disease – a type of blood cancer that starts in the lymphatic system.
  • Seborrheic Dermatitis – a skin condition that affects the scalp. It is a chronic inflammatory disorder that causes an itchy rash with flaky scales.
  • Celiac disease – it causes a nutritional deficiency in the body due to intestinal damage which leads to hair loss.

Deficiency of Vitamin B12

A deficiency of Vitamin B12 and other essential vitamins and minerals can cause hair loss in women. Due to blood loss during menstruation, women become iron deficient. Thus, not taking enough iron in your diet may lead to deficiency. Vitamin B12 is mostly found in animal proteins, and so, if you’re a vegan, you may experience hair thinning or hair loss.

Medications

Hair loss can occur as a result of certain medications. If you are undergoing any medical treatment or taking medications, ask your doctor about its potential side-effects. Do not stop taking your medications without consulting the doctor.

Age

As we get older, our hair gets finer. The hair follicles stop growing hair which causes the hair on the scalp to thin. Thus, hair loss is a normal part of the aging process.

Your main aim should be to best address the problem by getting it examined by a medical professional. While there are plenty of hair loss treatments available, it becomes your duty to reach out to a dermatologist and see what works best for you.

What are the Treatment Options Available?

The Internet is full of products and solutions boasting about its world-class benefits. However, you shouldn’t fall into the trap and vouch for doctor’s recommended and tested solutions only.

Minoxidil

Minoxidil is an FDA-approved drug used for the treatment of female pattern baldness. It comes in the form of a topical solution (that can be applied directly to the scalp) and oral tablets. It is recommended to be used for at least 6-12 months to experience significant results. It prevents hair loss, gives an overall thicker appearance to your hair, and promotes hair regrowth.

Finasteride

While Finasteride isn’t approved for use in women, it is recommended by doctors for the treatment of female pattern baldness. Various studies show that it can help to regrow hair in women suffering from female pattern hair loss.

It is sold under the brand name Propecia. It comes in dosages such as 1 mg and 5 mg.

While Propecia can be a bit heavy on the pocket, generic Finasteride is available under the name Finpecia 1 mg. It is used for the treatment of Androgenic Alopecia and Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia in men. However, doctors suggest that upon following a dose of Finpecia 1 mg, further hair loss in women can be prevented and hair regrowth can be achieved.

If your condition is severe, your doctor might suggest you to opt-in for a stronger dose such as 5 mg that is sold under the name Fincar 5 mg. Follow your doctor’s prescription carefully and avoid taking an overdose of the drug.

Spironolactone

Spironolactone blocks the production of androgens and promotes hair regrowth in women.

Corticosteroids

Corticosteroid injections are used for the treatment of alopecia areata. Hair growth can be experienced within 4 weeks of treatment and it can be repeated every 4-6 weeks. While oral and topical corticosteroids are also available, they aren’t effective and can cause unpleasant side-effects.

Hair Transplant

A hair transplant surgery involves taking small pieces of the scalp and transplanting or adding them to the areas of baldness. This increases the hair in the area naturally. A hair transplant is a costly treatment and may not be suitable for everyone.

Platelet-rich Plasma

Platelet-rich plasma or PRP is a safe and effective hair loss treatment that involves drawing a small amount of blood and placing it into a machine that separates it into parts. The blood is then injected into the area with hair loss.

PRP reduces hair loss and increases hair density.

Take a Nutritious Diet

Consuming foods rich in iron and protein can be helpful for hair growth. Foods containing complex carbohydrates give our hair the energy to grow. Thus, snacking on these kinds of foods can be really beneficial for your hair.

Style Your Hair Smartly

Avoid hairstyles that put pressure on the hair follicles. If you use any hairstyling creams, serums, or any other styling products, it’s time to give them a break.

Final Thoughts

The problem of hair loss can make women feel embarrassed or nervous to talk about it freely. However, you should know that hair loss is a part of the aging process and it can occur due to various reasons. If you notice that you’re shedding enormous amounts of hair daily, speak to your dermatologist about the symptoms and find a suitable treatment for yourself.

While there are tons of online pharmacies available, it becomes essential to identify which one is actually legitimate. Make sure that you get your medications from a verified and trusted source such as Hisblue. Hisblue is an online healthcare platform that makes healthcare affordable and accessible for all. It takes into account the needs of the customers and delivers right up to their expectations.

So, the next time you think you’re going bald, you know whom to reach out.

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