Hair loss isn’t just a man’s problem, but unfortunately, our society still views it largely as such. Consequently, many women that are suffering from hair loss not only feel insecure and self-conscious about the condition of their hair, but they also feel ashamed and less feminine. The truth is that if you’re a woman suffering from hair loss, you are not alone. There are more than 20 million women just like you who are suffering from thinning hair and excessive hair loss.
Accepting that you have a problem with hair loss is the first step toward finding solutions to help you overcome your problem and get back your self-confidence. Educating yourself on hair loss is the first step in the journey toward self-acceptance and ultimately finding solutions to your hair loss problem.
Hair loss is actually not one specific problem, but rather, a generic term used to describe all types of thinning and excessive shedding of the hair. You could be suffering from any one of these types of hair loss.
Often referred to as female pattern baldness, androgenic alopecia is a condition related to an excessive amount of male sex hormones or androgens. The number one type of women’s hair loss, androgenic alopecia occurs when the hair follicles shrink in size due to the effects of androgens. Because of this, hairs emerge from the follicles reduced in diameter, leading to the appearance of thinning. As the narrowing continues to worsen, the follicles can stop producing hair entirely, leading to complete bald patches on the scalp. While there is no cure for androgenic alopecia, treatments that decrease the effects of androgens on the hair follicles or lower male hormone levels can help stimulate new hair growth.
The second most common cause of hair loss in women, telogen effluvium or TE is directly related to stress and traumatic events. TE develops when a shock to the body causes the hair follicles to suddenly stop producing new hairs. More hairs shift into the shedding phase, resulting in a sudden, dramatic loss of hair. TE often develops after childbirth, surgery, a serious illness or an emotional trauma with symptoms starting 6 to 12 weeks after the event. The good news about TE is that it typically subsides on its own with stress management techniques and a proper diet.
Women undergoing chemotherapy most commonly experience the type of hair loss known as anagen effluvium. It occurs when the follicles that are actively growing hair become damaged or are put under stress, causing them to stop producing hair and shed the new growth. Consequently, hair is typically lost all over the scalp at a rapid pace. Like its sister condition TE, anagen effluvium usually subsides on its own; for women undergoing chemotherapy, hair loss typically ceases within weeks of stopping treatment with hair growth resuming soon after.
Although it is a relatively rare condition, alopecia areata is the third leading cause of hair loss among men and women. The condition is marked by sudden shedding of the hair that continues until a woman’s head is completely bald. Alopecia areata remains largely a mysterious condition though research has found that the condition is triggered by an auto-immune disorder. This means that it is a result of the body attacking the hair follicles as if the were a foreign substance or microbe. Treatment of alopecia areata revolves around suppressing the activities of the immune system to stop this attack.
Traction alopecia is a condition caused primarily by hair styling. Each time you pull your hair into a ponytail, wrap it in rollers or pull it with your flat iron, you are putting stress on the hair follicles. Over time, this repeated strain can cause damage to the hair follicles, resulting in hair loss. By changing the way you style your hair, you can allow the hair follicles to recover, leading to the natural regrowth of hair.
A woman’s body goes through a number of hormonal changes throughout her life, particularly before and after childbirth and before, during and after menopause. The swings in hormone levels can affect nearly all of your body systems and your hair and skin. Hormone-related alopecia is directly related to hormone fluctuations and is generally a temporary condition that resolves once the body regains its hormonal balance. In instances where hormone-related alopecia continues for a prolonged period of time, it can be treated through natural and synthetic hormone therapies. Thyroid disease can also trigger hormone-related alopecia. Once the condition is controlled by medication, hair loss typically subsides.
Whatever type of alopecia is affecting your life, you can manage the symptoms and enjoy fuller hair growth. Check out our Hair Loss Treatment page for more information.