Hair Loss In Women
Causes of Hair Loss
Throughout history, hair has been socially and culturally symbolic of femininity and beauty for women. Plentiful, lustrous hair is an enchanting sign of youth. So it’s no wonder what devastation women experience when the aging process sets in and hair starts to get noticeably thinner. Approximately 21 million women in the United States are afflicted with hair loss currently. The International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery (ISHRS) tells us that 50% of all women past 40 years old will endure some level of hair loss.
CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN
Many things can lead to hair loss in women. The most prevalent cause is female pattern baldness, but there is a plethora of other contributors. Some may make pattern baldness worse and others are the entire cause all themselves. Due to ever-changing female hormones, women are more susceptible to these outlying causes than men. Hormonal changes generally tend to be responsible for temporary hair loss, while other conditions may lead to a permanent state of thinner hair or baldness. When experiencing hair loss, a woman should consider the following:
- Iron or folic acid deficiency
- Sleep deprivation
- Poor circulation
- Untreated hypothyroidism
- Telogen Effluvium
- Drug use
- Alopecia areata
- Traction alopecia
Among these, only alopecia areata is incurable, due to the cyclical and unpredictable temperament of the disease. Many of the above are preventable and can be cured with a healthy diet, adequate sleep, and the right vitamins. Other more serious ailments are also treatable with the correct diagnosis and treatment from a physician.
A CLOSER LOOK AT FEMALE PATTERN BALDNESS
Female pattern baldness is a permanent condition. It is similar to male pattern baldness and also different. Both are rooted in the same hormonal mechanism, wherein DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is born out of testosterone and the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, and aggresses the hair follicle. Weak androgen receptors residing in the follicle will allow the demise of the hair, shrinking it down to peach fuzz or to breakage. Over time, the result is noticeable, diffuse thinness of hair over the top of the head.
The genetic component so prevalent in male pattern baldness is what differs from female pattern baldness. Heredity makes a telling case for men, but is not as straight forward for women. In fact, female hair loss happens randomly for the most part, with no clear association in the family lineage.
CURING HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN
As previously stated, the preventable causes of hair loss are easy to treat and quite easy to reverse. Sleeping enough, consuming a balanced diet, and taking a multivitamin every day should give the body ample nutrients to feed the hair follicles and help them to thrive. More sensitive causes, like pregnancy, poor circulation, or hypothyroidism should of course be assessed and treated by a doctor.
With serious medical cases, like lupus or trichotillomania, more medical attention is required for treatment; possibly an ongoing prescription.
For the most common ailment, female pattern baldness, there are a few different treatment options:
- Rogaine (minoxidil) is an FDA-approved over-the-counter drug for reversing hair loss, but it must be used indefinitely to be effective.
- Hair transplantation is the best hair loss solution, as it is safe, permanent, and appears natural.
- Temporary fixes to conceal hair loss may be found in powder-based cosmetics that are sprinkled onto the hair, like Toppik; hair-thickening creams like COUVRé; or the classic wig/hairpiece. These temporary options are of course limiting and would be a source of frustration in unfavorable circumstances.