Hair Loss In Women
Spotting Hair Loss
The average person loses approximately 100 hairs per day as part of the regular growth cycle of hair.
Hair grows in various phases:
Anagen – This is the phase where the hair grows and the follicle is nourished by the blood supply to the scalp.
Catagen – In this phase, the hair detaches and growth ceases.
Telogen – In this final phase, the ‘resting phase’, the dead hair sheds as the follicle prepares to return back to the anagen phase.
Sometimes, you may see the addition of the ‘exogen’ phase. This is simply the transition from telogen back to anagen. Some people use this term to separate the resting follicle and the shedding hair into two distinct sections.
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As a result, you don’t need to be concerned by seeing some hair shedding daily.
If you’re seeing excessive loss when you brush or wash your hair, this could be a cause for concern.
Some of the visual clues you may notice aside from disproportionate shedding are listed below:
· Thinning of the Hair Across the Whole Scalp
· Widening Parting
· Bald Patches
· Thinning at the Hair Line
Approximately two thirds of women will experience some form of thinning or loss to a degree during their life.
Despite the stigma, it’s clear that it’s not an uncommon condition, and you wouldn’t be alone in experiencing it.
So, let’s look at some of the causes of thinning hair in women, as well as the types of loss you may experience, and how to deal with it.
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Causes of Hair Loss in Women
Hair loss can happen gradually, or suddenly.
It depends on the cause of loss, and it can vary between person to person as well.
Hair loss in women can be caused by a variety of factors, ranging from genetic, to environmental, to medical.
Let’s take a look at some of the main causes.
The effect of chemotherapy on hair loss can range from partial loss or thinning, to total loss over the whole body.
Chemotherapy works by targeting rapidly dividing cells. However, the drugs can’t distinguish between healthy and cancerous cells.
Since hair follicles are a fast-growing cell, they’re targeted by the treatment and the loss occurs due to them being destroyed.
This is why the degree of loss can vary as it’s depends on the type and dosage of treatment.
Hair loss can occur either during or after pregnancy (or not at all if you’re lucky).
The most likely cause during pregnancy is either stress, which is caused by the shock to your body from hormone shifts, or iron deficiency.
Both of these causes are explained in more detail a little further on.
Alternatively, you may find an improvement in the thickness during pregnancy, then loss postpartum.
This is actually excessive shedding as opposed to genuine loss.
The rise in oestrogen levels during pregnancy can cause the hair’s normal cycle to be disrupted, thus preventing normal shedding.
As a result, hair is lost after pregnancy as hormone levels return to normal due to the ‘backlog’ as such of shedding occurring all at once.
Stress can occur due to a variety of reasons, and it pushes the hair follicles into the resting stage.
Any significant emotional trauma can cause this, such as the loss of a loved one, struggles with health or relationships, or excessive pressure with work.
The resulting type of hair loss is telogen effluvium.
Iron Deficiency –
Hair requires sufficient levels of oxygen and nutrients to grow.
These essential elements for growth get delivered to the scalp via haemoglobin.
Iron is crucial in the production of haemoglobin, so a deficiency consequently causes the hair to fall out due to the follicles not receiving the necessary oxygen and nutrient levels required for growth.
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Trichotillomania is a condition in which the sufferer experiences urges to pull out their hair.
This can occur both on the head, eyebrows, eyelashes, or any other area of the body.
Since this hair loss is caused by physical pulling as opposed to shedding, the loss can present itself in a variety of ways.
You may experience general thinning, however it’s more likely for bald patches to appear.
Some people experience hair loss due to a type of hormone known as androgens.
This hormone level can cause androgenetic alopecia, which will be explained more below.
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Types of Hair Loss
There are multiple types of hair loss, each having different causes.
Here are some of the most common types:
Androgenetic Alopecia –
This type of hair loss is genetic, as mentioned above.
Also known as Female Pattern Hair Loss, androgenetic alopecia is typically characterised by a thinning and widening parting.
It occurs due to both a lengthening of time between the telogen and anagen phases, and follicular miniaturisation.
As a result, it takes longer for the hair to regrow during the cycle, and thick pigmented hairs are replaced with thinner non-pigmented hairs.
Telogen Effluvium –
Telogen Effluvium is usually only a temporary loss.
It occurs due to stress or shock to the body, which pushes a larger than normal amount of hair follicles into the resting (telogen) phase of growth.
Consequently, sufferers will experience thinning of the hair due to excessive shedding.
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Anagen Effluvium –
In opposition to the previous point, anagen effluvium occurs during the anagen stage of hair growth.
Hair loss that occurs during this phase can result from a variety of causes – usually medical.
This can be anything from infections which cause easy breakage or pulling of the hair at the root, or medications which disrupt growth and cause damage (such as chemotherapy).
Alopecia Areata –
Alopecia areata is where hair is lost in clumps/patches.
This occurs when hair follicles are attacked by the immune system, thus causing hair loss.
When the body’s immune system mistakes healthy cells for foreign bodies, it attacks them, which in turn leads to a cease in hair production.
Traction Alopecia –
This form of hair loss occurs as a result of repetitive pulling.
For example, consistently wearing tight hairstyles (such as braids and tight ponytails) cause the hair to snap or be pulled out at the root.
In some cases, the damage to the follicle may be irreversible.
Wearing wigs or having long hair can also cause this condition sue to the weight of the hair pulling on the scalp.
Dealing With Hair Loss
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Understandably, hair loss can be a cause of self-consciousness and low self esteem amongst women, but there are ways to cope with it.
It’s a scary situation for anyone, especially considering the social stigma attached to hair loss. Many consider it to be a strong part of their appearance, and question whether things will change without it.
Well, whether you’re able to embrace your new look, or whether you want a little help hiding it, there’s incredible amounts of help available to you.
It’s recommended that you visit a GP or dermatologist if you’re concerned about hair loss, but there are some things you can do yourself to help cope.
Here’s just a few examples – but you can find more in our selection of blogs.
1 Change up your style to find a look that suits thin hair or hides bald or thinning patches.
2 Try hair fibres such as Toppik , herbal tablets or hair loss treatments
3 Use a high-quality hair system or wig to cover the loss.
4 Join a support group or online discussion to get emotional support.
5 Focus on methods of accepting the loss to learn how to improve your confidence.
6 Increase the use of scarves or hats to help cover your head.
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In conclusion, it’s clear how unpredictable and diverse hair loss in women is.
Each person’s experience would be different.
However, there are people who would be in the same position as you. You’re not alone!
Understanding potential causes, types of hair loss, and coping mechanisms you can use at home, is an amazing first step in being confident and educated when it comes to hair loss.
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