Until recently, the problem of hair loss in women was thought to be uncommon. Recent research, however, has shown that it is far more widespread than previously thought. Some estimates say as many as 25 million American women (or more) experience noticeable hair loss and the debilitating effects that often go along with it. Female hair loss causes are somewhat different than those typically seen in men, and the emotional effects can be quite different as well. Learn More by reading this article.
Appearance of Hair Loss in Women
The look of baldness in many females is generally different from its appearance in men. Women usually do not go bald or partially bald, and they typically don’t have bald spots on the crown of their head. In women, hair loss typically shows up as overall thinning of the hair, both the quantity of hair on the head and the depth of every individual hair. Some women do have a receding hairline, but rarely as pronounced and noticeable as what many men experience.
Emotional Effects of Hair Loss in Women
A woman’s self esteem and sense of self are typically more determined by how they look than is generally true for men. Of course, men find it painful to lose their hair, but for females the emotional effects can be especially devastating.
When you think of how much money and effort goes into advertising women’s hair care products, styling products, cosmetics and hair care appliances like blow dryers and curling irons, it is easy to understand why women find it so painful to experience hair loss. Our society places so much emphasis on looks, especially for girls, that female hair loss may lead to a lot of emotional pain, anxiety, and even trigger episodes of depression.
Medical Causes of Hair Loss in Women
The most frequent female baldness causes are related to medical conditions and hormonal changes. While many are very similar to those experienced by men, many more are specific to women.
Hormones – Women experience far more hormonal problems than men do, and at a much greater frequency. Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause are all conditions unique to women that can affect the amount and permanence of hair loss and cause balding.
Medication – Many medicines can cause or contribute to female hair loss, such as anti-depressants, blood thinners, birth control pills, anti-cholesterol drugs and chemotherapy drugs.
Illness/Surgery – Many common illnesses can cause female hair loss, including diabetes and thyroid over- or under-activity, as can conditions that put the body under stress such as high fevers or major operation.
Other Causes – Anemia, anorexia, bulimia, excess vitamin A, fungal infections, and zinc or fatty acid deficiency can also be the cause of hair loss in women.
Genetic Causes of Hair Loss in Women
Female pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is estimated to occur in 15 percent or less of American girls. The chemical process in the body is similar, because hormones and dehydrotestosterone (DHT) combine to cause hair follicles to shut down. Despite the fact that the chemical process is the same, the look of the hair loss in females is generally different, with women experiencing general thinning of hair rather than the bald spots or conspicuous receding hairline so prevalent in men.
Some experts theorize that differences in hair follicles between males and females can contribute to differences in the appearance of baldness. In men, hair tends to grow up out of the follicle, causing oil and other secretions on the scalp to build up and prevent follicles. In women, however, hair tends to grow out of the follicle at an angle, allowing oil and secretions to flow more easily out of the follicle.
Girls subject their hair to many everyday stresses that may lead to hair damage and hair loss. A few such female baldness causes include:
o Hair coloring
o Hair bleaching
o Permanent waves
O Regular use of blow dryers, curling irons and other heated appliances
O Improper or harsh brushing and/or combing
O Regular wearing of tight ponytails, braids, and other hair restraints
While these things generally do not cause instantaneous or permanent hair loss in females, they do often cause dry, damaged hair that is more likely to break off and thus appear thinner and more brittle. In women whose hair is already thin as a result of hormonal changes that come with aging, actions such as these can have a massive impact on hair appearance.
Women experiencing baldness should consult their physician for an accurate diagnosis of what’s causing them to lose hair. In the case of an undiagnosed condition such as diabetes or thyroid problems, treating the medical condition can often stop and even reverse hair loss problems. If the doctor finds that hormonal issues associated with menopause and aging are the cause, then he or she is the best resource for information and guidance on successful female hair loss remedies.
There’s only one topical female hair loss treatment approved by the FDA for use by women – minoxidil. This medication is marketed under the name Rogaine and is readily available over the counter in most drug stores, grocery stores, and online.
Rogaine is good at restoring hair growth and diminishing the appearance of thinning hair in women, but often it takes several months for results to become noticeable in many females. It is quite easy and convenient to apply from the privacy of home, but must be continued indefinitely in order to keep hair regrowth. If Rogaine use is stopped, any hair that has regrown will be lost once more.
Surgical Hair Restoration
Surgical hair loss treatments such as hair grafting are quite effective for male pattern baldness, but since the nature of hair loss differs in women, females are usually not good candidates for such therapy. Hair grafting is a procedure of preventing hair from actively growing parts of the head and transplanting them to areas of thinning and dormant growth. Because females have a tendency to lose their hair all over the head instead of in a concentrated location, grafting doesn’t usually have much effect. For those women who do have certain balding spots or stains, though, surgical treatment may be an alternative. It is best to consult an experienced hair restoration surgeon who will diagnose the cause and suggest a suitable solution.