It’s absolutely normal for women to shed or lose some hair, however, it is often seen in certain groups of health conditions. Hair loss in women occurs frequently. Normal hair shed or loss amounts to nothing less than 50-100 strands of hairs per day. When your hair sheds or falls out it will be replaced by other hairs. Although, if you begin to notice you are shedding more hair than usual and they aren’t growing back, hair loss happens and it is different from hair shedding. There might be an underlying condition causing unusual hair shedding or loss.
loss of hair affects both men and women. However, hair losses are often seen in men compared to women. Hair shed in women is quite normal but excessive hair shed which results in hair loss can be a result of an underlying medical condition.
HOW HAIR GROWS
The human scalp contains approximately about 100, 000 hair follicles. Each strand of hair grows from the bottom of the follicle often referred to as the root of the follicle. The root is nourished by blood vessels which allow the hair to grow. Hair grows up and toward the skin by passing through the oil gland. The oil gland is there in other to keep the hair moisturize, shiny and soft. However, too much oil makes the hair oily and rough. The hair on the women scalp grows at a rate of about half an inch per month and remains on the scalp for 2-6 years. After this, the hair stops growing for a period of time before it falls out on its own or through combing and any other form.
Hair grows through three cycles:
The Anagen Phase. This phase is the first phase and it is referred to as the “growing phase”. About 90% of the hair on the head is in this phase and can last for 2-8 years.
The Catagen Phase. This is also referred to as “transition phase”. This is the phase where hair follicles shrink and it typically lasts for 2-3 weeks.
The telogen phase. This is also referred to as “resting phase”. This phase lasts for about 2-4 months and the hair falls out.
TYPES OF HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN
There are different types of hair loss namely:
There is a chance whereby an individual is genetically predisposed to hair thinning, which means a progressive or gradual reduction of hair volume can be seen. Certain hair follicles are highly sensitive to male hormones and as a result of this sensitivity, hair follicles may shrink and produce finer and shorter hairs with each passing hair growth cycle.
This means an individual hair loss is as a result of some factors. Telogen effluvium is known as excessive daily hair shedding and is not related to genetic predisposition. loss of hair in this case, occurs as a result of an internal imbalance such as poor diet, unhealthy nutritional, stress or mental health condition.
CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN
There are many factors that trigger hair loss in women, ranging from hereditary to medical conditions to styling issues. Several medical conditions result in excessive loss of hair such as hormonal imbalance and thyroid problems. When these conditions are diagnosed and treated with the appropriate medications, it may stop and hair may grow back with time. However, when these conditions are not treated with appropriate medications, symptoms may become worse. Stress, genetics and nutritional factors also play a role in loss of hair in women. Other causes include cancer, kidney failure, liver failure, radiation therapy, side effects of medication, and autoimmune disease.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY HORMONAL IMBALANCE
Hormonal imbalance can play a role in our appearance. The effects of whacks hormones can be seen throughout the whole body and this includes your hair. Hormones play an important role in regulating the hair growth cycle. Oestrogen hormone which is seen in female hormones plays a key role in keeping hairs in their growth phase for a very long time. However, androgens hormones seen in male hormone helps to shorten the hair growth cycle in man. The rate at which women grow hair is quite different from the rate at which men grow hair.
Also, the presence of excess androgens hormone in men which is often caused by “endocrine disorder such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome can cause hair loss in men. People with genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity suffer more hair loss than people without genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity. Hormonal imbalance is also one of the major causes of hair loss in women.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY STRESS
Many people experience hair loss because of stressful events. Also, stress tends to increase androgen hormone seen in male hormone which is responsible for male features and reproduction and this causes hair loss. Stress can also trigger other health condition apart from hair loss and this include scalp problem such as dandruff which have a negative effect on hair and causes hair to fall out. Also, extreme emotional or physical stress may trigger female pattern hair loss. Loss of hair caused by emotional or physical stress is known as “Telogen effluvium”. Other things that may cause pattern hair loss include surgery, blood loss, weight loss, severe emotional upset, and serious illness or injury.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY HYPOTHYROIDISM AND HYPERTHYROIDISM
The thyroid gland is a ductless gland and it is a butterfly-shaped gland in the anterior part of the neck region. It is responsible for the secretion of hormones that helps regulate growth and development through the rate of metabolism in the body by controlling the production of protein and tissues use of oxygen.
Whether an individual is suffering from hypothyroidism, which is the deficiency of thyroid hormone or hyperthyroidism which is the overproduction of thyroid hormone, it can affect the hair follicle and cause loss of hair. Any form of thyroid problem or imbalance can affect hair follicles.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY ANEMIA/IRON DEFICIENCY
Anemia is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Anemia occurs when an individual hemoglobin level in Red Blood Cells is reduced and hemoglobin is the protein that is responsible for the transportation of oxygen to the body tissues.
Iron deficiency anemia is the most popular type of anemia and it is triggered when the body doesn’t have adequate mineral iron. Iron is important in other to make hemoglobin.
Also, iron is essential for producing hair cell protein. When there is an iron deficiency in the body, the hair cell protein will become inadequate and as a result of this hair loss sets in.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY VITAMIN B12 DEFICIENCY
Vitamin is an essential component of our body. Vitamin is important in other to regulate new hair cells production and to promote hair growth. Vitamin B12 is important in the human body in other to make Red Blood Cells, Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), and nerves; helps to carry out other important function in the body.
However, vitamin B12 can’t be made in the body but have to be consumed whether in food or supplement. When people fail to derive enough vitamin B12 in the food they eat or supplement this result in vitamin B12 deficiency.
When there is Vitamin B12 deficiency in the body, it causes hair loss as vitamin B12 deficiency affects red blood cells which is responsible for the transportation of oxygen to the body tissue.
Vitamin B12 is not seen in plant but is present in food such as eggs, meat, dairy products, poultry, and other animal products foods.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY AGE
It is important to also know that as we aged (I.es as we are getting older), our hair ages and it is absolutely normal to experience thinning hair as we age. Also, if you are in your early stage of menopause or about to enter menopause, your body changes and this may have negative effect on your hair.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY FUNGAL INFECTION
Ringworm is a fungal infection that affects the scalp and causes patches of hair loss. Ringworm on the scalp is also referred to as “Tinea Capitis”. The affected area on the scalp usually begins a small pimple that later becomes big as time goes on if not properly treated. Affected areas on the scalp are usually red, itchy, inflamed, scaly patches with temporary baldness. The affected areas may sometimes ooze. Tinea capitis triggers hair loss by causing the hair to break and become brittle.
The affected area on the scalp usually appears reddish around the edge of the lesion with a more normal appearing skin tone in the center. This appearance is the reason why the term “Ringworm” is used to describe this skin condition.
This condition is contagious. It can be contacted through skin-to-skin, it can be transmissible through the use of infected hairbrushes, combs and unwashed clothing. If not taken care of properly it can lead to excessive hair loss.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY CHILDBIRTH
During pregnancy, moms-to-be are usually content with the fullness of their hair. However, after childbirth, they may experience loss of hair. Hair loss after women give birth is as a result of reduction in estrogen levels. Many women experience the loss of lots of hair after childbirth within a short period of time after childbirth. However, the hair loss will grow back to normal within 1-2 years.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY HAIR STYLING
Excessive hair-styling that pulls your hair tight such as cornrows or pigtails, ponytails, bandanas, scarves, and hats can pull the hair and thereby cause hair loss by a process known as “traction alopecia”. The consistent tension irritates the scalp and may trigger hair to fall out. Wear your hair down as this process can help prevent tension and will also allow your hair to grow back if your hair loss is caused by traction alopecia. Also, avoid using tight hairstyles and hot oil hair treatment as this may cause inflammation of hair follicle and also scar the scalp thereby leading to permanent loss of hair.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY VITAMIN D DEFICIENCY
Deficiency or lack of some certain vitamins and minerals may also cause hair thinning or hair loss in women. The deficiency of vitamin D in the body can cause it. Vitamin D helps stimulate new and old hair follicles. Vitamin D is an important nutrient that is essential to our mental health. It helps boosts immunity and this keeps bones strong and skin healthy. Vitamin D can be absorbed through sun exposure primarily. Different health conditions can be experienced when there is vitamin D deficiency in the body such as hair loss, alopecia also known as spot baldness, heart disease, osteoarthritis, cancer, and bone softening. Vitamin D supplements and medication includes cod liver oil, fish liver oils, salmon and fatty fish.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY WEIGHT LOSS
Telogen effluvium is the major cause of hair loss in people who are losing weight consistently. Although, weight loss is wise for people who seem to be overweight. However, rapid weight loss is a stress to our body system. This stress is capable of altering hair growth cycle and thereby triggering telogen effluvium.
Also, nutritional deficiency can also cause weight loss thereby triggering it. The nutrients related to hair loss are iron, blotin, protein, vitamin B12 and essential fatty acids. Insufficient protein can cause hair to thin out which later results in hair loss. L-lysine is an amino acid that is important for healthy hair growth, insufficient or inadequate presence of it in the body system may cause hair loss.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN CAUSED BY CANCER TREATMENT
Chemotherapy and radiation which is used to treat cancer are also common causes of hair loss. These therapies are harmful to hair follicles in other to kill cancerous cells. People undergoing cancer therapies usually experience excessive hair loss because of the treatment they are going through. They start experiencing dramatic hair loss after starting the treatment within 14 days of the therapies. The scalp may be extra sensitive during the time of the treatment. However, after the treatment, the hair tends to start growing back.
Other cause of hair loss includes:
- High fever
- Chronic illness
- Crash diets and eating disorder
- Hashimoto disease
- Addison’s disease
- Lichen planus
- Autoimmune disorder
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Celiac disease
- Systemic lupus erythematosus and so on
HOW TO PREVENT HAIR LOSS
The following tips can help to prevent it
- Avoid tight hair-styling such as cornrows or ponytails, pigtails, braids, buns and any other form of hair-styling that can scar the scalp.
- Use a wide-tooth comb when combing your hair and this will prevent pulling out hair
- Avoid compulsively rubbing, twisting and pulling your hair.
- Always treat your hair gently when brushing and washing.
- Avoid taking supplements and medications that could trigger hair loss
- Avoid harsh treatments on your hair such as curling irons, hot rollers, hot oil treatments, and permanents.
- Always protect your hair from sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet light.
- When using chemotherapy treatment always uses a cooling cap. This cooling cap will help reduce the risk of hair loss during chemotherapy.
HAIR LOSS TREATMENTS
Hair loss caused by hormonal imbalance or stress such as menopause, pregnancy or childbirth may not require any treatment because with time the hair will grow back to its normal size.
Also, nutrients deficiencies also don’t require any medical treatment beyond supplements unless the nutrients deficiencies are caused as a result of an underlying health condition.
Although it doesn’t happen too fast, it is a gradual process because hairs grow in cycles which means it can take up to 3 months or more before hair eventually falls out. However, if excessive hair shedding or loss is experienced for more than 4 months, it is advisable to see a doctor or a trichologist.
WHAT IS FEMALE HAIR PATTERN BALDNESS?
Female pattern baldness is a type of hair loss condition that affects women. Androgenetic alopecia is the medical term used to describe female pattern baldness.
This health condition is experienced by both men and women which may cause hair loss. Although this condition is often seen in men than in women. Pattern baldness in men is quite different from that of women, men who have hair loss tend to develop a receding hairline and bald spots.
However, women suffering from female pattern baldness often experience general hair thinning, which affects the volume of hair on their scalp.
Female pattern hair loss is often related to the genetic components that can be inherited from either the father or mother. Female pattern hair loss can start as early as the late teens and the earlier the symptom is seen the more severe hair loss will be. However, women with pattern hair loss don’t have a receding hairline and bald spots. Instead, a visible hair thinning is seen and the hair also doesn’t feel as thick as usual.
Hair loss is less frequent in women than in men, although it is usually seen in women than in men. Female pattern baldness increases with age and less than 50% of women have full hair on their scalp for a life time.
GENE INHERITANCE AND FEMALE PATTERN BALDNESS
Genetics appears to play an important role in developing female pattern baldness, which means this condition runs in the families. Female pattern baldness is often seen in women as they age and also it can begin earlier starting from age 12-40 years. Women tend to inherit the gene for pattern baldness from both parents.
Female pattern baldness can also develop after menopause, in this case, hormonal changes may also cause hair loss.
Female pattern baldness can also be developed due to an underlying health condition that has to do with the production of the hormone androgen.
Androgen is a hormone that plays a major role in pattern baldness. The presence of tumors in the ovary or pituitary gland which secrete androgen may also cause hair loss.
Alopecia areata is a patchy hair loss that happens all of a sudden on the scalp and other parts of the body. It usually begins with few round bald patches.
Treatment can only be recommended depending on the extent of hair loss, and the factors that trigger hair loss.
Treatment for female pattern baldness can help to prevent other forms of hair loss and also allow the hair to grow back to its normal size. Also, long term treatment is required to prevent recurring hair loss.
Treatment options are:
Minoxidil is a topical medication that can be used to treat hair loss in both men and women. The treatment is usually applied to the scalp every day in other to stimulate hair growth and in other to prevent future recurring of hair loss. Minoxidil drug is in form of liquid and foam forms. It can take 6 months to a year before a visible result could be noticed. Side effects that can be seen when using this treatment include redness, dryness, and itching.
One of the well-known brands of Minoxidil is Rogaine. Effective use of this treatment prevents hair loss and helps promote hair growth.
This medication is used by men in which hair loss is caused by androgenic hair loss. Finasteride is a class of medications called 5-alpha reductase inhibitors. It helps reduce hair loss by closing the action of natural hormones in the scalp hair follicle.
Propecia may help grow and thicken hair to a certain extent for some people, but it is mainly used to maintain hair growth and prevent hair loss.
An oral medication which is commonly used to treat female pattern baldness such as spironolactone. Spironolactone is a diuretic. Diuretics play an effective role in getting rid and removal of excess water from the body.
This medication is also capable of blocking the production of androgen, which is capable of preventing hair loss and stimulate hair growth. The medication also has side effects such as dizziness, dry mouth, and nausea.
Women who are pregnant are asked not to take spironolactone in other to prevent congenital disabilities of the fetus.