Thinning Hair In Women: 18 Causes With Treatment
Hair loss is common these days, and it is not just a guy thing as many of you would think. Women also lose hair like men. Thinning hair in women could result from genetics, hormonal imbalance, the normal aging process, or some medical conditions. Fortunately, some lifestyle modifications, preventive measures, and medical treatments can help solve this issue. This article attempts to discuss several causes of hair thinning in women, preventive measures, and the recommended treatments available.
Female Hair Loss: Causes And Treatment
Far from being my crowning glory, my hair has been the bane of my life. But one question has always plagued me: is my problem on my head, or in my head? While I’ve suspected my hair has been thinning for decades, few people ever believed me and at times I even doubted it myself.
There were years when my hair seemed fuller, when I’d scrunch it into ringlets and delight at its apparent thickness. At other times, particularly in my 30s, I’d fret over the wispy strands at the front of my head or when I saw too much scalp in the mirror.
My friends always reassured me I had a good head of hair. Most of the GPs I saw reacted the same, despite my tears and protestations. I had no bald patches or visible gaps so they’d put it down to stress or would test my iron and thyroid levels, which appeared normal.
Some of my hair loss over the years is easily explained. I developed an eating disorder and recall gathering clumps of hair off my pink bedroom carpet when I was under-eating in my teens.
Weight loss, low iron levels, poor diet and stress, along with thyroid and hormonal imbalances, can all cause hair to fall, trichologists say. Hair needs a healthy diet and a well-functioning endocrine system to flourish.
“Genetic hair loss is the only hair loss in which the follicle gradually gets smaller and finer and producers smaller and finer hair until it stops altogether and then you get the thinning,” says Lyons.
What Steps Can I Take To Prevent Or Slow Hair Loss
Unfortunately, certain types of hair loss are genetic, and very little can be done to prevent them. Genetic types of hair loss include alopecia areata and female pattern hair loss.
But other types of hair loss can be brought on by stress and a poor diet. Do your best to eat a balanced diet, and find ways to take care of your mental health.
For added benefit, stay up to date with your routine checkups. Anemia, low levels of vitamin D and abnormal thyroid hormones can all affect the health of your hair. Simple bloodwork from your primary care physician can determine if these conditions are contributing to your hair loss.
Black women in particular are prone to a type of hair loss called traction alopecia, which is caused by heat, chemicals and tight styles that pull at the hair root, including some braids, dreadlocks, extensions and weaves.
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Menopause And Hormone Imbalances
Women may experience hair loss during menopause due to reduced production of the hormones estrogen and progesterone. These changes also lead to symptoms like menstrual cycle irregularity, dry skin, night sweats, weight gain, and vaginal dryness. This added stress on the body may also worsen hair loss.
Some women may even notice thinning and loss after going off hormonal birth control pills. Why? Again, hormonal changes of any kind, particularly falling estrogen levels, can temporarily disrupt the hair lifecycle.
What Are The Cycles Of Hair Growth
Hair goes through three cycles:
- The anagen phase can last from two years to eight years. This phase generally refers to about 85% to 90% of the hair on your head.
- The catagen phase is the time that hair follicles shrink and takes about two to three weeks.
- The telogen phase takes about two to four months. At the end of this phase, the hair falls out.
Your shorter hairs like eyelashes, arm and leg hair and eyebrows have a short anagen phase about one month. Your scalp hair can last up to six years or even longer.
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Vitamin B12 Deficiency Hair Loss
A lack of vitamin B12 can leave you feeling tired and low on energy, sound familiar? Well, the fun doesn’t stop there, it can also take it’s toll on your hair…
“Vitamin B12 deficiency often causes hair loss as it can affect the health of red blood cells, which carry oxygen to your tissues” says Anabel. “It’s most common in vegans as you can primarily only obtain B12 through animal proteins.”
Reasons For Hair Thinning
Your genes.These play a key role in male- or female-pattern baldness, which is a common part of aging. If youâre a woman, your hair may get thinner overall, but the condition isnât likely to make your hairline recede or bring on baldness. If youâre a man, your hair may thin near the top of your head, and youâre more likely to have a retreating hairline and balding.
Stress. Certain stressful events can make your hair look thinâsometimes a couple months after the stressful situation. Itâs a condition called telogen effluvium, and your hair usually grows back on its own. Triggers for stress-induced hair loss can include:
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What Causes Hair To Thin
Any number of lifestyle factors, genetics, recent life events , or medical conditions can cause your hair to thin.
Lifestyle factors could include using certain hair products, wearing your hair up too tightly, experiencing high stress levels, or not getting enough of certain vitamins and minerals in your diet.
People who have immune system deficiencies could also have thinning hair.
Hair Thinning In Women
Hair loss in women, while not discussed as often as hair loss in men, is more common than you may think. Female-Pattern Baldness, which normally occurs around menopause, affects nearly of women. Unlike Male-Pattern Baldness, the hair loss usually occurs near the hair part instead of along the hairline. However, this is not the only cause of hair loss women experience. Several different factors, illnesses, or stresses can lead to women experiencing thinning hair. Luckily, while there are many reasons hair loss could occur, there are also several treatments and medications to help combat and stop hair loss, followed by prompting new hair growth.
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Root Cause #: Nutrition
Not getting the proper nutrition to fuel the hair growth cycle can have a big impact on hair. Our follicles are incredibly active organs requiring sufficient nutrients and energy to keep sustaining hair growth. Not getting adequate amounts of calories, or skipping on important components to your hair , can lead to changes in your hairâs structure and even hair loss. Nutrients of specific importance include zinc, selenium, biotin, B vitamins, vitamin A, vitamin D, and vitamin E. As our hair is largely made from the protein keratin, ensuring your diet contains rich sources of protein is also important to support optimal hair growth
Hair Loss During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, our body increases the amount of estrogen produced. The high production of estrogen stimulates and signals more follicles to enter into the growing phase of the hair growth cycle. It is why during pregnancy, you are likely to experience thicker, fuller, and lustrous locks. Hair grows significantly faster during pregnancy than at any other time in your life.
Following childbirth, the estrogen levels drop and adjust back to their previous pre-pregnancy levels. This sudden drop in estrogen prompts the hair follicles to enter the resting phase slow hair growth. After 100 days in the resting phase, the hair begins to shed.
Hair changes in pregnancy and postpartum are common. Nonetheless, every woman experiences it differently as the changes are different. Do not panic! You will experience a full recovery, albeit the process may take a little time. Be patient.
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What Causes Thinning Hair In Women
There is a range of causes that can cause thinning hair. These include lifestyle habits, genetics, or both.
Certain medical conditions can also be the cause of thinning hair in women. Commonly, the following lifestyle habits are the most known causes of thinning hair:
- Over-treating your hair with perms, relaxers, and color treatments.
- Use of hair products with harsh chemicals such as extreme-hold hair sprays or gels.
- Ongoing coloring of your hair
- Tight updo or high ponytails tug on your hair and cause follicles to break and cause thinning spots.
- A lack of iron, folic acid, and other minerals in your diet can be a cause of hair thinning.
- If you are under stress from work or other circumstances in your life, you are likely to experience hair thinning.
Apart from this, underlying medical conditions can also cause thinning hair, such as:
- Recently having a baby
- You suffer from immune deficiencies
- Skin disorders or skin infection
Other less common causes of thinning hair are eating disorders, pulling at your hair, and high fever.
Often thinning hair is confused with Alopecia which is widespread hair loss. Thinning hair eventually leads to loss of hair, but these two are not the same.
Hormonal Imbalance Hair Loss
A hormonal imbalance can lead to multitude of annoying health and beauty issues, from adult acne to weight gain. If your hormones are out of whack the effects will radiate throughout the whole body .
“Hormones play a huge role in regulating the hair growth cycle” explains Anabel. “Oestrogens are ‘hair friendly’ and help to keep hairs in their growth phase for the optimal length of time. Androgens are not very hair friendly, and can shorten the hair growth cycle.”
“An excess of androgens can cause hair loss. The extent of this is often down to genes – If you have a genetic predisposition to follicle sensitivity, a hormonal imbalance can affect your hair more than it would someone who does not have a predisposition.”
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First Lets Review The Normal Cycles Of Hair Growth:
Every hair follicle is independent and goes through the hair growth cycle at different times.
Anagen: This is your hairs growth period. Hair grows actively from the roots for an average of 2-7 years before the hair follicles become dormant.
Catagen: This is the transitional hair growth cycle. This phase on last for 2-3 weeks on average and during this time, hair stops growing and detaches itself from the blood supply. It is then named a club hair.
Telogen: This is the resting phase. Club hairs rest in the root while new hairs begin to grow beneath it. This phase lasts about 3 months. After this time, the resting club hairs begin to fall out in order to let the new hairs grow through the hair follicle.
Now onto the causes of hair loss.
Diet Alcohol And Tobacco Intake
Healthy hair growth is largely due to our ability to maintain adequate nutrition. When our diets are lacking in key hair nutrients, such as vitamins A and D, as well as iron and protein, hair thinning, loss and shedding can result.9
Drinking alcohol in excess can be detrimental to hair health as well. It can be a contributing factor to hair thinning, as consuming too much can lead the malabsorption of certain key nutrients.10 The same can be said for smoking cigarettes, which has been shown to not only damage the hair follicle, but it can also impede blood flow to the follicle, limiting the amount of nutrients delivered.11
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What Are Some Tips For Dealing With Hair Loss In Women
There are some things you can do on your own. You might check with your stylist or try some of these:
- Coloring your hair adds volume to the strands, making your hair seem fuller.
- Massaging your head, like when you are washing your hair, can stimulate blood flow to the scalp and hair follicles.
- Getting your hair cut shorter, and having layers added, can make your hair seem fuller.
- Using the right kind of shampoo can also help. Look for a shampoo that adds volume without using sulfate detergents.
- Using the right kind of product at the right time can also help. There are products that add volume that you add while your hair is still wet. However, using too much product can add weight.
At What Age Does Hair Thinning Start
A single strand of hair is made with proteins and has a life of 2 to 7 years.
When a hair falls out, it is replaced by new hair. But as we age, a little hair thinning is normal as the rate of hair growth slows down.
Hair also tends to become smaller and have less pigment, and most follicles stop producing hair altogether. There is no set age for thinning hair. Most men start showing signs of hair thinning in their mid-30s, while women lose some luster and thickness after the age of 40.
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Mayo Clinic Minute: Expert Advice For Women With Thinning Hair
Thinning hair is common as we age. And while the signs might not be as obvious as in men, about 55% of women experience some hair loss by the time they’re 70. Treatments to prevent or stop it can help many women who are losing their hair.
Dr. Dawn Davis, a Mayo Clinic dermatologist, explains in this Mayo Clinic Minute.
Journalists: Broadcast-quality video pkg is in the downloads at the end of the post. Please “Courtesy: Mayo Clinic News Network.” Read the script.
“People think of hair loss or pattern baldness happening only to men,” says Dr. Davis.
But several things can cause hair loss in women: pregnancy, menopause, medical issues, medications and even stress. However, the most common cause is female-pattern baldness, a genetic and hormonal hair loss that gradually occurs in many women.
“It starts with thinning of the hair on the crown of the scalp exactly in the center. So women may notice that when they part their hair, the part is a little wider or perhaps it’s wispier,” says Dr. Davis. “And then what happens is that density just simply decreases over time. And in extreme form, there can be absence of hair on the crown of the scalp.”
Time is of the essence.
“As soon as you start to see hair loss because hair disorders are often time-sensitive I would encourage you to see a hair specialist, such as a dermatologist,” she says.
And Dr. Davis has some words of advice.
What Are The Common Causes Of Hair Loss In Women
What causes hair loss?
- Hair style: Your style of hair can cause hair loss when your hair is arranged in ways that pull on your roots, like tight ponytails, braids, or corn rows. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia. If hair follicles are damaged, the loss can be permanent.
- Vitamin deficiency.
- Over processed scalp hair .
What causes anagen effluvium hair loss?
- Toxic substances, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and some medications. These cause sudden hair loss that can occur anywhere on your body. It happens to hair in the growth stage. Sometimes, this type of hair loss can be permanent if your hair follicles are damaged.
What causes telogen effluvium hair loss?
- Extreme physical stress or shock to your body: This causes temporary hair loss. This category includes events like losing a lot of weight, surgery, anemia, illness and having a baby.
- Extreme emotional stress: mental illness, the death of a loved one, etc.
- An abnormal thyroid.
- Medications and supplements: blood pressure medicines, gout medicines and high doses of Vitamin A.
- Hormone changes caused by pregnancy, menopause or birth control pills.
What causes FPHL ?
- Genes: Your familys genes can cause thinning of hair along the top of your head.
- Aging: Hormone changes as you age can cause balding.
- Menopause: This type of hair loss often gets worse when estrogen is lost during menopause.
There are also some conditions that affect hair loss:
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And 5 Ways To Save Your Strands
| Visible hair loss can be deeply distressing and affects both men and women of all ages. While this condition is more common in men, women can experience thinning or complete hair loss, as well.
For women, pattern hair loss occurs mostly when they are in their 50s and 60s. According to a study published by the National Institutes of Health, Female pattern hair loss is the commonest cause of hair loss in women, and prevalence increases with advancing age. Affected women may experience psychological distress and impaired social functioning.
According to a posting by Harvard Women’s Health Watch, Hair loss often has a greater impact on women than on men because it’s less socially acceptable for them. The organization notes that as many as two-thirds of postmenopausal women have thinning hair or bald spots.
Hair loss in men, the Harvard article explains, “usually begins above the temples,” with the receding hairline forming the shape of an M. In women, thinning hair appears gradually, usually at the part line, and increasing hair loss spreading from the top of the head.
There are several causes of hair loss in women, including medical conditions, certain medications, and physical or emotional stress. Here are five categories of hair loss affecting 50-plus women.
- Family history of pattern baldness
- Diet i.e., poor nutrition
What to Do About Hair Loss
AARP VALUE &
Thinning Hair In Women: Why It Happens And What Helps
Many people think of hair loss as a male problem, but it also affects at least a third of women. But unlike men, women typically experience thinning hair without going bald, and there can be a number of different underlying causes for the problem.
Some are associated with inflammation in the body. Some are female-pattern hair loss, says Dr. Deborah Scott, assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Hair Loss Clinic at Brigham and Womens Hospital. But the good news is that in many cases this hair loss can be stabilized with treatment, and it may be reversible. When its not, there are a number of new cosmetic approaches that can help.
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