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What Could Cause Hair Loss In A Woman

Shedding Light On Female Alopecia

What Is Causing This Womans Extreme Hair Loss?

Rashi C. Waghel, PharmD

Jennifer A. Waitzman, PharmD, BCACPAssistant Professor of PharmacyWingate, North Carolina

US Pharm. 2013 38:62-65.

ABSTRACT: Alopecia is a common problem in females. Several typesof alopecia exist, each having different etiologies and treatmentoptions. Regardless of the cause or type of alopecia, hair loss can havea negative impact on an individuals self-image therefore, it isimportant to address patients emotional needs as well as their medicalhealth needs. Although FDA-approved pharmacologic options for femalealopecia are limited, several medications are being investigated fortheir use in this population. Regardless of whether a patient decides toutilize pharmacologic treatment, minimization strategies can helpreduce hair loss and alleviate the negative emotional impact of thiscondition.

Alopecia, more commonly referred to as hair loss, is a problemfaced by millions of people in the United States. Alopecia does notrefer to normal, everyday loss of hair. It is common for a person tolose around 50 to 100 hairs each day.1 Alopecia suggests anamount of hair loss greater than what is normally expected.Traditionally, more attention has been paid to male-pattern baldness however, alopecia is common in females as well. More than 21 millionfemales in the U.S. are affected by alopecia.2

What Questions Might Your Healthcare Provider Ask To Diagnose And Categorize Your Hair Loss

Your healthcare provider might ask about your habits:

  • What kinds of hair products do you use?
  • What kinds of hair styles do you wear?
  • What types of food do you eat ?
  • Do you have a habit of pulling your hair out ?

They might ask about your history:

  • Has anyone in your immediate family experienced hair loss?
  • Is there anything stressful going on in your life?
  • What medications and supplements do you take every day?
  • Has hair loss ever happened to you before?
  • What foods are in your diet?

And, they might ask about your observations:

  • How long have you been losing hair?
  • Have you been shedding more?
  • Have you noticed hair loss in places other than your scalp, like your eyebrows? Leg and arm hair?
  • Does anything worsen your hair loss?
  • Does anything improve your hair loss?
  • Have you noticed hair loss occasionally or has it been going on continuously?
  • Have you noticed if your hair growth has changed?
  • Has your hair been breaking more often?

And Here’s What You Can Do To Fix It:

Ok, so now you know what triggering the hair loss, here’s how to deal with it…

Recognise the problem

Hair loss doesn’t happen fast, our strands grow in cycles, which means it can take up to 3 months for hair to fall out after a trigger has caused it. “If you notice excessive daily hair shedding for longer than 3 months, see a trichologist or your GP, there could be an underlying factor that needs to be addressed”, Anabel advises. “Very importantly, try not to panic. Telogen effluvium is almost always self-eliminating and hair will start to grow back as usual once any internal imbalance is put right”.

Change up your diet

1) Get More Protein

“Hair is made of protein, making adequate daily intake of protein rich foods essential. Include at least a palm sized portion of protein at breakfast and lunch .” Anabel recommends.

2) Complex carbohydrates are essential

“They provide our hair with the energy it needs to grow. Snack on a healthy carbohydrates if longer than four hours is left between meals as energy available to hair cells drops after this amount of time.”

That being said, Anabel explained that if you are losing your hair because of something other than diet, like stress or an illness, changing what you eat will not remedy it.

Take a supplement

Anabel recommends looking out for the following ingredients: Iron, Vitamin C, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D3, Copper, Zinc, Selenium, and the essential amino acids, L-Lysine and L-Methionine.

Head message = more than self-care

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Whats Hair Loss In Women

Hair loss in women is just that when a woman experiences unexpected, heavy loss of hair. Generally, humans shed between 50 and 100 single hairs per day. Hair shedding is part of a natural balance some hairs fall out while others grow in. When the balance is interrupted when hair falls out and less hair grows in hair loss happens. Hair loss is different than hair shedding. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia.

Hair grows on almost all of your skin surfaces not the palms of your hands, soles of your feet, lips or eyelids. Light, fine, short hair is called vellus hair. Terminal/androgenic hair is thicker, darker and longer.

Medical Conditions And Genetics

Women Hair Loss Causes

Ill preface this by saying the number of medical reasons that could contribute to hair loss are vastand the only way to get a definitive answer is to see your doctor or a trichologist . If you eat a balanced diet, live relatively stress-free, and havent had any major hormonal changes or pregnancies, yet youre still noticing hair loss, the next step is to make an appointment with your doc.

Medical conditions aside, early-onset hair loss can also be hereditary. Burg says its more of a myth that hair loss can be passed down from either your mother or fatherif youve got a grandmother or aunt on either side of your family with thinning hair, theres a chance you can have it too. Love you, fam!

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What Are The Different Types Of Female Hair Loss

Engelman explains how the hair cycle is a four phase process: Anagen , Catagen , Telogen , and Exogen . Each hair follicle goes through this process at different times, otherwise we would lose all of our hair at the same time before it started to grow again. There is no exact normal number of hairs shed per dayit depends on the individual. But if your normal seems to have changed, and youre finding extra hairs on your pillows, clothing, and even falling into your food, it could mean your hair growth cycle has been disrupted.

According to Joshua Zeichner MD, Associate Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, female pattern hair loss, or FPHL, is polygenic, meaning that its likely caused by a combination of genetic factors from both your mom and your dad, though other factors can contribute to hair loss. It is important to understand whether hair loss is caused by genetics alone or whether there are contributing medical factors involved, Zeichner adds. Medical factors might include hormonal changes that occur during perimenopause, menopause and post-partum, as well as stress, illness, weight loss, and even gut health.

Stress can play a big role in female hair thinning and loss. The Mayo clinic describes

Can Certain Hairstyles Or Treatments Cause Hair Loss

Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents may cause inflammation of the hair follicle. This can result in scarring and hair loss.

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Can Hair Loss Be Prevented Or Avoided

There is no way to prevent male-pattern baldness because it is a genetic trait, meaning you inherited a gene for baldness from your parents.

Some other causes of excessive hair loss can be prevented. For example, you could prevent hair loss by not styling hair too tightly in a way that puts too much pressure on your scalp. You also can talk to your doctor and avoid taking medications that could cause hair loss.

If You Have Hair Loss Start Here

Hair Loss in Women – Shedding vs Balding

Treating your hair loss starts with addressing the underlying cause. So if you have signs of hair loss, see a board-certified dermatologist as soon as possible. They can help you pinpoint the problem and address the issue. No matter what the reason, the sooner you get treatment for hair loss, the better the result will be.

Since the hair is an extension of your body, living a healthy lifestyle can also help. Some measures you can take are:

  • Eating a balanced diet

  • Avoiding traumatic hair care

  • Seeing your primary care provider regularly for preventative medical care

Topical solution or foam is the first-choice medication for most types of hair loss. For hereditary hair loss, your dermatologist may recommend pills like or . Other treatment options include cosmetic and surgical procedures at a dermatologists office. Some of these treatments are still experimental, but they show promise. Alternatively, many women cover thin areas with topical products, scalp tattooing, or wigs.

No matter what your age, the good news is that most causes of hair loss are treatable. Addressing the root cause early is key to stopping the process and regrowing hair.

Also Check: Why Is My Hair Thinning

The Hair Growth Cycle

Hair goes through a specific growth cycle. The anagen phase is the growth part of the cycle. The next phase is the catagen phase, in which hair follicles shrink and hair growth slows. This is followed by the telogen phase, when hair rests before falling out. Each strand of hair isnt necessarily in the same phase at the same time: In normal conditions, 85% to 90% of hair is in the anagen phase, while 1% is in catagen phase, and the rest of the hair is hanging out in the telogen phase.

On any given day you may shed between 70 to 100 hairsbut shedding more than 100 hairs a day for a period longer than a few weeks is considered a red flag, according to the Menopause Review study cited above. Excess shedding can be caused by stress, illness, or other physiological conditions, like menopause.

Improved Guide For Better Treatment Of Hair Loss In Women

A team of eight esteemed experts in polycystic ovary syndrome form the research review task force who examined the data.1 Their goal was to assess the various diagnoses and possible treatments for problematic hair thinning in women, according to first author, Enrico Carmina, MD, executive director and chief executive officer of the committee, and professor and chairman of endocrinology at the University of Palermo Medical School in Italy.

This is a carefully developed update of knowledge about hair loss in women with a special focus on androgen-depending forms to provide clinicians with clear guidance in female pattern baldness drawing on the latest evidence, Dr. Carmina tells EndocrineWeb.

Related topic: Symptoms of PCOS

Others causes of hair loss: Hyperthyroidism

There have been basic studies done showing that an androgen excess in premenopausal women induces hair loss that requires different diagnostic and treatment approaches than those effective in men,2 he says. For one thing, inflammation may play a larger role in this condition in women than for men.

When a woman has excess androgen levels , a variety of signs may arise such as acne, weight gain, excessive facial and chest hair , irregular menstruation, and excessive loss of hair at the scalp. However, the physical presentation of hair loss is notably different between the sexes.

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When To Seek Help

You should consult your doctor if:

  • You are losing hair in an unusual pattern
  • You are losing hair rapidly or at an early age
  • You have any pain or itching with the hair loss
  • The skin on your scalp under the involved area is red, scaly, or otherwise abnormal
  • You have acne, facial hair, or an abnormal menstrual cycle
  • You have additional symptoms which concern you.

You Have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Excessive hair loss, hair loss in young women, Folisin ...

Polycystic ovary syndrome is another imbalance in male and female sex hormones. An excess of androgens can lead to ovarian cysts, weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, changes in your menstrual period, infertility, as well as hair thinning. Because male hormones are overrepresented in PCOS, women may also experience more hair on the face and body.

Treating PCOS can correct the hormone imbalance and help reverse some of these changes. Treatments include diet, exercise, and potentially birth control pills, as well as specific treatment to address infertility or diabetes risk.

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How Is Alopecia Areata Treated

For many people, hair grows back without any type of treatment.

The main goal of treatment is to stop the immune system attack on hair follicles and to help hair grow back. While there are no drugs that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for alopecia areata, medications that have been approved for other conditions may be used to treat it.

Alopecia areata is treated by:

  • Dermatologists, who specialize in conditions of the skin, hair, and nails.

Other specialists who may be involved in your care include:

  • Mental health professionals, who can help with the psychosocial challenges caused by having a medical condition.
  • Primary care doctors, such as family physicians or internal medicine specialists, who coordinate care between the different health providers and treat other problems as they arise.

Dandruff Or Scalp Psoriasis

When the skin on the scalp is inflamed and itchy, its obviously tempting to scratch it. But that may cause your hair to shed more than usual.

Dandruff is the most easily treated cause of hair loss, Dr. Fusco says, because you can treat it with over-the-counter products, like a shampoo containing zinc pyrithione or exfoliating ingredients such as the classic Head & Shoulders Classic or Oribe Serene Scalp Anti-Dandruff Shampoo . “Consistency is the trick,” Dr. Fusco says, so it’s important to find a shampoo and conditioner you like enough to use regularly.

But other conditions can also cause itchiness and scalp flaking, including seborrheic dermatitis and psoriasis . Treating these issues may take more time and effort than dandruff, so its important to check in with a dermatologist if you think you may be dealing with one of these conditions.

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Promise Of Recognition That Hair Loss Is Often A Sign Of A Medical Condition

This report provides a commonsense approach that is very useful, and because it helps to distinguish hair loss due to androgen overproduction from other causes, women can better understand what medications might be useful and what benefit to expect or hope for, Dr. Anawalt says.

One bit of advice that Dr. Anawalt was especially happy to see:

A recommendation that women worried about hair loss try the hair pull test. Try to pull gently on the end of a group of 50 hairs in multiple areas of the scalp, he says. It is normal to have 0-2 hairs come out per pull. More than that suggests telogen effluvium, which does not respond to anti-testosterone therapy but may reflect altered thyroid hormone or estrogen levels or a nutritional deficiency.

There are also some caveats that women must understand about hair loss, Dr. Anawalt notes.

  • Hair loss due to aging isnt reversable.
  • Treatment with minoxidil results in only modest improvement of hair growth.
  • Anti-androgen treatment offers benefits only to women with either high levels of circulating blood testosterone or evidence of excess testosterone production.

The guidelines nicely describe emerging evidence of the important growth factors for hair, and we might see effective treatments for hair loss for women and men based on further investigation and development of treatments related to these growth factors, says Dr. Anawalt.

Neither doctor has any financial conflicts with regard to this article.

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