Hair loss in women

No longer is it true that hair loss is the domain of men.  In fact, since 2004, the number of female surgical hair restoration patients worldwide increased 24 percent.

If you are one of the growing numbers of women looking for information to help you make a sound decision about your hair loss, you are in the right place.

Hair loss may come as a surprise, but it is no mystery. There is always a cause. And the cause can be diagnosed by a physician hair restoration specialist, who can recommend appropriate treatment. 

Both men and women suffer hair loss but patterns may be different in women than in men.Many people wonder what causes hair loss. 

The causes of hair loss vary depending on a number of factors, including genetics this is often what causes baldness or alopecia), illness (such as thyroid disease), stress and medications you may be taking. 

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The best way to uncover hair loss causes and find out whether they are preventable is to see a physician.

Hair loss is also related to lifestyle. Factors such as stress, exposure to chemicals or UV rays, smoking and consuming alcohol can play a role in triggering or exacerbating the loss of hair (and can also affect recovery from hair restoration surgery). It is also important to be aware that certain types of hairstyles, including braids, tight ponytails and hair extensions, can cause tension and trauma to the hair follicle, leading to hair loss.

Extreme emotional stress, like losing a loved one, can play a huge part in the shedding of hair especially in women.  Some women lose hair at an alarming rate when under these conditions.

Why is that? 

This happens when hair goes through its normal growth cycle and enters into the “dormant” stage. It’s normal to lose approximately 100 hairs per day but when under emotional stress, cortisol (stress hormone) is released in the body and high levels can cause a 30% increase in hair to become dormant thus causing patchiness and loss of hair.  This condition is called Telogen Effluvium (TE).

The good news is, this is usually a temporary condition and within a few months, the hair follicles return to their normal growth cycle.  If the condition persists, stress reduction is the answer to talk to your physician about how to best manage and control stress levels and understand the triggers.

So let's look at the 3 main types of hair loss in women: hair thinning, hair shedding and hair breakage.

1. Hair thinning is called Female Pattern Hair Loss and represents a thinning of the hair over the crown of the head resulting in widening of the middle hair parting. This is the equivalent of the common male pattern baldness seen in men. This is generally inherited, but can also reflect an underlying hormonal imbalance like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)

2. Increased hair shedding is called telogen effluvium, the most common causes of which are acute illnesses like typhoid and malaria, poor nutrition, iron deficiency, thyroid disorders etc.

3. Hair breakage is not true hair loss from the roots but represents hair that breaks along its length during shampooing, combing and hair styling. Hair bleaching, colouring, ironing, straightening etc make the hair bonds weaker, making it easier to break.

Pay close attention to what you do to your hair and what you put into your body.  

Here are 5 quick tips for maintaining good health and ultimately good hair health:

1. You are what you eat and your hair reflects that. Include iron, zinc and vitamin C in your diet. Eat fruits and raw veggies. Hair is made up of a protein called Keratin hence a protein-rich diet is recommended.

2. Make sure you know your hair products. Wash your hair regularly to keep the scalp clean.

3. Limit the stress you put on your hair and scalp from hair treatments and colouring.

4. Pamper your hair with a good conditioning treatment.

5. No sleep, no beauty. Maintaining a good sleep pattern helps with stress!