Each and every person loses some hair every day, usually between 25 and 100 strands. When men lose hair, it is considered a natural part of aging. But when women lose excessive hair, something more serious may be to blame. The following article will detail some of the causes of hair loss in women.
Telogen effluvium is one condition that can cause excessive hair loss in women. This condition occurs during times of emotional stress, after giving birth, when taking certain drugs, and during other situations that cause a shock to the body. After the stimulus, more hair follicles than usual enter the "telogen," or resting, phase of the growth cycle, leading to diffuse thinning all over the scalp. Telogen effluvium generally does not cause permanent hair loss; the hair generally regrows when the trigger is eliminated.
Just as male pattern baldness affects men, women can experience female pattern baldness. While the exact causes of female pattern baldness are not completely understood, researchers believe that aging, genetics, and hormones probably play a significant role. Having a family history of male or female pattern baldness may put a woman at a higher risk of losing her hair. Unlike male pattern baldness, however, female pattern baldness tends to lead to more diffuse, even thinning of the hair. This type of hair loss does tend to be permanent.
Another common cause of thinning hair in women is an underactive thyroid, or hypothyroidism. When the body produces too little thyroid hormone, some of the changes that are most noticeable are those that affect the skin, nails and hair. This disorder is easily detected through blood tests, and the hair loss can usually be reversed once the patient begins taking thyroid hormones to replace those the body isn't making.
Hormones can play a key role in how much hair a woman loses, too. In the period just after giving birth, many women lose quite a bit of hair for a short period, in part due to their changing hormone levels. Other women experience hair loss at the onset of menopause, or during periods of hormone imbalances, in which the hair on other parts of the body may become coarser or darker.
The way the hair is styled can contribute to hair loss. Tight braids, cornrows, or ponytails can put extra stress on the hair follicles, eventually leading to hair loss. Overuse of combs, brushes, curling irons and other styling aids could also lead to some thinning, as well as breakage, which causes the hair to appear less dense.
When a woman experiences hair loss, she should see her dermatologist or family physician. Many cases, especially those with underlying disorders, can be treated, and the hair will grow back. Physicians may suggest over-the-counter medications that can help to regrow hair, but these are not advisable or useful in all situations.
The causes of hair loss in women are diverse, and due to societal expectations regarding beauty, women may feel even more self-conscious about their appearance. With help from a doctor, however, many women experiencing hair loss can reverse the condition or slow its progress.