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Hair loss in women

Female hair loss treatments

In today’s increasingly stressful world, the number of women suffering from hair loss is increasing. We all want to look our best and damage to a woman’s ‘crowning glory’ can be a uniquely upsetting affliction.

Hair loss in women can generally be seen evenly across the scalp without definite bald patches. If this is happening to you, then one of the following conditions may be affecting you:

 

Diffuse hair loss

Diffuse hair loss is a gradual thinning of the hair instead of a straightforward bald patch. It is the most common type of hair loss in women.

What happens
The replacement of old hairs by new hairs slows down so that the hair becomes sparse and the scalp can be seen clearly through the hair. The causes can be numerous and include stress, restriction of the blood supply, a poor nervous system and hormonal influences.

This condition is treatable – learn more about Diffuse thinning and potential treatments.

Androgenetic alopecia

Often linked to hormonal changes, Androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness) in women follows events such as menopause, childbirth or as a result of stopping or starting oral contraceptive pills. This hair loss condition is generally more uniform over the scalp.

What happens
The condition results from a complex chemical reaction when the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase converts the testosterone in the system into DHT or dihydrotestosterone. The hair follicles are genetically predisposed to be oversensitive to DHT and become smaller and smaller with time, leading to eventual hair loss.

This condition is treatable

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium occurs when the hair’s growing phase is interrupted prematurely, causing the hair follicles to enter the telogen (resting) phase of the hair cycle earlier than expected. Following the regular cyclic pattern, diffuse shedding of the hair begins two to four months later.

What happens
When Telogen effluvium strikes, it’s like a pause button has been pressed on your hair growth. Not enough hairs are left in the anagen or growing phase, resulting in diffuse hair thinning. It’s as if your hair takes a break, leaving you with less volume and thickness.

Pregnancy will also affect hair production. Hormone levels increase as the pregnancy begins, slowing the hair growth cycle. Hairs that should stop growing continue to grow beyond their usual life cycle. Often, this means that the hair develops thicker as more hair is present than normal. Following birth, hormone levels change very quickly, and hairs growing beyond their expected lifespan enter the telogen phase at this time and begin to fall out. This hair loss can sometimes happen all at once, and naturally, it is immensely worrying for a new mother.

This condition is treatable – learn more about Telogen effluvium and potential treatments.

Late-onset thinning

Late-onset thinning can be seen in diffuse hair loss across the scalp as hair density gradually reduces. This condition is due to age-related hormonal changes. Recognising the signs of patchy hair loss early on is crucial. It could be an indication of a form of alopecia. By being proactive in your health management, you can take the necessary steps to address it.

What happens

The natural reduction of oestrogen/progesterone production makes the hair follicles smaller and smaller. These follicles produce finer and finer hair until there is a general reduction in overall density.

This condition is treatable – learn more about Late-onset thinning.

Alopecia areata

Late-onset thinning can be seen in diffuse hair loss across the scalp as hair density gradually reduces. This condition is due to age-related hormonal changes. Recognising the signs of patchy hair loss early on is crucial. It could be an indication of a form of alopecia. By being proactive in your health management, you can take the necessary steps to address it.

What happens

The hair loss is sudden and manifests itself in small, smooth-skinned patches that are likely to gradually widen with time. It can also affect the sufferer’s nails, giving them a pitted, ridged, or brittle appearance.

The exact cause is still unknown, although current theories include an auto-immune disease, stress or suggest a genetic basis. However, it’s important to note that the hair can regrow in many cases. Should the hair loss progress until all the scalp hair is lost, the condition is known as alopecia totalis or alopecia universalis if all the body hair is lost as well.

This condition is treatable – learn more about Alopecia areata and treatments.

Pseudopelade

Regarded as a clinical syndrome, Pseudopelade may result from one of several different pathological processes caused by a weakened immune system.

What happens

The condition presents by developing small, smooth patches without any clinical changes other than transient erythema (redness). The initial patch is usually on the crown of the head but can occur anywhere on the scalp.

This condition is treatable – learn more about Pseudopelade and treatments.

Trauma-based hair loss conditions

There are three primary trauma-related hair loss conditions, these are:

 

Chemical trauma
Chemical trauma, a serious issue, can be inflicted on the hair through processes like bleaching, relaxing, perming, or dying. The chemicals used in these procedures can severely damage the hair’s protein structure, leading to dehydration, brittleness, and often hair loss. Not only do these chemicals harm the hair, but they can also cause scalp irritation, further exacerbating the problem.

Traction alopecia
A condition that develops over time, is hair loss triggered by continuous tension on the hair, such as from an overly tight ponytail, plaiting, or using excessively tight rollers. The persistent pulling on the hair leads to the gradual shrinking of the hair follicle, producing finer and finer hairs. This long-term effect underscores the importance of early diagnosis and treatment.

Injury to the body or surgery
Along with its associated anaesthetics and medications, injuries to a person (or surgery) can also interrupt the normal growth cycle. A relatively minor injury can result in disproportionably severe hair loss.

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