Female Hair Loss
Common causes of female hair loss
For most women, hair is an outward expression of their unique personality and style. Hair loss can therefore be a highly distressing problem, particularly in a society so obsessed with physical beauty. Although hair loss affects an estimated eight million women in the UK alone, many women suffer in silence because they are reluctant to admit that they have a problem. Unlike men, women rarely develop a receding front hairline: many have hair that is thinning all over, while others experience a gradual widening of the centre parting.
Common hair loss triggers
A wide range of medical conditions, and several lifestyle factors, can trigger female hair loss. They include:
The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland located at the front of the neck. If the gland over or under produces thyroid hormone, hair loss may result. The hair loss usually affects the entire scalp and the hair may appear uniformly sparse. With successful treatment, regrowth typically occurs, although it may take several months for the hair to return to its usual thickness.
Women with PCOS often suffer from high level of androgens (male sex hormones), which tend to cause thinning of the hair on the scalp. It can also lead to ovulation problems, weight gain and acne. Treatment can help minimise hair loss and may even support hair regrowth.
- Hormonal contraception
All methods of hormonal contraception have the potential to cause hair loss. The hormones that suppress ovulation can cause the hair to thin, particularly in women with a family history of hair loss. Sometimes, women can experience hair loss following ceasing use of hormonal contraception. However, this hair loss is usually reversible: after a few weeks, hair should start to return to its normal thickness and density.
Some women notice that their hair becomes thicker and fuller thanks to high levels of hormones circulating in the body during pregnancy. However, this effect is usually short-lived. After childbirth, when hormone levels return to normal, the hair can fall out, resulting in an unexpected bout of severe hair loss. In these instances, it may take up to two years for the hair to return to its usual thickness.
When ringworm, a skin infection caused by fungus, affects the scalp, it can trigger a sudden and distinct pattern of hair loss, which is characterised by round bald patches. Most cases of ringworm of the scalp are mild and respond well to treatment with antifungal medications and shampoos.
Extreme physical and psychological stress can cause sudden shedding of the hair on the head, which may last for as long as a year. Examples of stressful events that may trigger hair loss include serious illness, major surgery and severe trauma involving blood loss.
Seeking help for hair loss
Many cases of female hair loss are temporary, or are a natural consequence of the ageing process. Women suffering from hair loss should always work with their doctor to understand the underlying cause of their problem. In doing so, they will be able to determine whether they require any medical treatment.
About the Author:
Anouska is the owner of Hair Ink, the Uks most up-and-coming hairloss clinic. When she's not working her magic in the studio, she's talking and reaching out to women to help them not only with their hair but with their confidence and reassuring them that it's not a problem!