Posted on November 11 2018
Female hair loss can be devastating.
Everyone loses hair. In fact, it’s normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, but what if it seems like there’s significantly more loss than that? Hair loss is not just a condition that men face: up to 40% of women in America also experience it.
It’s commonly more accepted and expected that men lose their hair. But when women begin to lose theirs, the psychological damage can be just as devastating as any serious disease, taking an emotional toll that can directly affect physical health.
Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL)
The most common cause of progressive hair loss in women, FPHL (Female Pattern Hair Loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia), it affects about 30 million American women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
FPHL has a distinct appearance. Hair thins mainly on the top and crown of the scalp, usually beginning with a widening through the center hair part.
Female pattern hair loss is characterized by miniaturization of the hair follicles, where the hair follicles become smaller and produce shorter, thinner, more brittle hairs, and can eventually stop producing any hair. The hair follicles not only miniaturize but also can become deleted with a decrease in total number of follicles.
Unlike men, women usually will keep their hairline, except for normal recession, which happens the older we get. The hair loss in women will rarely result in total baldness, as it may happen in men.
Possible Causes for Hair Loss
The reasons for female pattern hair loss are not totally understood, although it is thought to be related to a family history of male or female baldness, changes in the levels of male hormones (androgens) and aging. Five possible causes:
Close to 50 percent of women will experience some degree of hair loss or thinning before age 50, which often gets worse with menopause, according to the North American Menopause Society. “Your hormones have been supporting your hair growth,” explains Bergfeld. “When estrogen dips, the hair begins to change.”
Illness or Underlying Medical Conditions
Thyroid disease, diabetes, lupus or anemia are among the 30 or so diseases that can cause sudden hair loss, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), which says that hair loss can often be the first sign of disease. Other conditions include ringworm, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) and some cancer treatments.
Stress or Trauma
You may notice excessive hair shedding several months after a stressful or traumatic event (like divorce or loss of a spouse), sudden or excessive weight loss, a high fever or surgery. That shedding is normal and temporary — but may be long-lasting if the stress persists.
Dieting and Poor Nutrition
Eat poorly and your hair could suffer: The body shifts its nutritional stores to vital organs like your brain and heart — and away from your hair — if there is a shortage.
Low protein, low iron stores, low vitamin D and calcium can cause hair loss, says Bergfeld. But taking nutritional supplements for what you might be missing isn’t necessarily the answer. A study published in Clinical and Experimental Dermatology found that excessive levels of supplements can actually cause hair loss and should not be used unless there is an actual deficiency.
Years of pulling your hair too tight in a bun or ponytail or wearing it in cornrows or braids can put stress on the hair and cause a type of hair loss known as traction alopecia. So can bleaching or regular use of dyes, relaxers and other hair products as well as straightening irons and curling wands.