Female Hair Loss
Hair loss in women is just that — when a woman experiences unexpected, heavy loss of hair. Generally, humans shed between 50 and 100 single hairs 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. Hair loss is different than hair shedding. The medical term for hair loss is “alopecia.”
Hair grows on almost all of your skin surfaces — not the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, lips or eyelids. Light, fine, short hair is called vellus hair. Terminal/androgenic hair is thicker, darker and longer.
Hair goes through three cycles:
- The anagen phase (growing phase) can last from two years to eight years. This phase generally refers to about 85% to 90% of the hair on your head.
- The catagen phase (transition phase) is the time that hair follicles shrink and takes about two to three weeks.
- The telogen phase (resting phase) takes about two to four months. At the end of this phase, the hair falls out.
Your shorter hairs like eyelashes, arm and leg hair and eyebrows have a short anagen phase — about one month. Your scalp hair can last up to six years or even longer.
There are three: anagen effluvium, telogen effluvium and FPHL.
- Anagen effluvium: This is caused by medications that poison a growing hair follicle (like chemotherapy).
- Telogen effluvium: This is caused by an increased number of hair follicles reaching the telogen phase, which is the stage where hair falls out.
- Androgenetic alopecia/female pattern alopecia/female pattern hair loss (FPHL)/baldness: This type is the most common. Hair thins over the top of the head and on the sides.
Many people think that hair loss only affects men. However, it is estimated that more than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss. The most significant cause of hair loss in women is female-pattern hair loss (FPHL), which affects about one-third of susceptible women, which equals out to some 30 million women in the United States.
ny girl or woman can be affected by hair loss. However, it is usually more common in:
- Women older than 40.
- Women who have just had babies.
- Women who have had chemotherapy and those who have been affected by other medications.
- Women who often have hairstyles that pull on the hair (like tight ponytails or tight braids) or use harsh chemicals on their hair.
- Menopausal women.
Myths about hair loss are widespread. Nothing in the following list is true:
- You’re losing hair because you shampoo it too much, or because you’ve colored it or gotten a perm.
- Dandruff causes permanent hair loss in women.
- Stress causes permanent hair loss in women.
- If you shave your head, your hair will grow back twice as thick.
- If you stand on your head you’ll increase circulation, stimulating hair growth.
- If you brush your hair 100 strokes a day that will make your hair healthier.
- Hats and wigs cause hair loss in women.
- Hair loss only affects intellectual women.
What causes hair loss?
- Hair style: Your style of hair can cause hair loss when your hair is arranged in ways that pull on your roots, like tight ponytails, braids, or corn rows. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia. If hair follicles are damaged, the loss can be permanent.
- Vitamin deficiency.
- Dieting (rapid weight loss).
- Restrictive diets.
- Over processed scalp hair (breakage).
What causes anagen effluvium hair loss?
- Toxic substances, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and some medications. These cause sudden hair loss that can occur anywhere on your body. It happens to hair in the growth stage. Sometimes, this type of hair loss can be permanent if your hair follicles are damaged.
What causes telogen effluvium hair loss?
- Extreme physical stress or shock to your body: This causes temporary hair loss. This category includes events like losing a lot of weight, surgery, anemia, illness and having a baby.
- Extreme emotional stress: mental illness, the death of a loved one, etc.
- An abnormal thyroid.
- Medications and supplements: blood pressure medicines, gout medicines and high doses of Vitamin A.
- Hormone changes caused by pregnancy, menopause or birth control pills.
What causes FPHL (Female Pattern Hair Loss)?
- Genes: Your family’s genes can cause thinning of hair along the top of your head.
- Aging: Hormone changes as you age can cause balding.
- Menopause: This type of hair loss often gets worse when estrogen is lost during menopause.
- Seeing more hair fall out daily either on your brush, on the floor, in showers, on your pillows, or in the sink.
- Seeing noticeable patches of thinner or missing hair, including a part on the top of your head that gets wider.
- Seeing scalp skin through hair
- Having smaller ponytails.
- Seeing hair break off.