Women & Hair Loss

Posted on: 25 March 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Hair loss for a woman can be devastating.

Hair loss for a woman can be devastating. The problems seems to be increasing every year and it is estimated that six out of ten woman will suffer some degree of hair loss.

Most people assume that it is only men who suffer from hair loss, but nothing could be further from the truth. Although it is basically true with regards to heredity, millions of women the world over suffer from some form of hair loss and the number appears to be rising each year. The overwhelming cause is a hereditary condition called androgenetic alopecia or female-pattern hair loss. One of the least engaging facts about getting older is that a significant number of women also experience hair loss.

Did you know that 1 out of every 4 women will experience hereditary hair thinning? Hair loss takes most women by surprise, and for some, the effects can be embarrassing and depressing. Join our panel of experts as they explain the causes and warning signs of hair loss in women.

Sudden hair loss may not be painful or even dangerous in itself, but for the six out of ten women who suffer from it at some point in their lives can find, it a devastating blow to their confidence - marital break up, career problems, social isolation and even suicide has been known to follow in its wake.

One of the most traumatic experiences a woman could endure in her life would be baldness. Hair thinning or slight hair loss is bad enough but total baldness can be completely heartbreaking. To see one's hair fall out in clumps and be able to do nothing about it is something no woman ever contemplates. Sadly there is a hair disorder that affects women for no reason, which causes the hair to fall out in handfuls. There is no known cure for the problem and many women with the disorder sadly spend vast sums of money with the so called "hair specialists" on wonder shampoo's which they claim will restore their crowning glory.

Society may mock men suffering from baldness, but at least it is tolerated. However a woman suffering from baldness is just not acceptable by society. Until people can actually accept one another as they are and not judge them by their looks, then we shall always have the problem, with bald women being virtually treated as outcasts. For a woman hair loss can be devastating, in our society hair is regarded as a symbol of beauty and desirability, without hair some women feel complete failures and the effects can be disastrous. Hair loss can be seen to some women as losing their femininity.

Baldness occurs when the hair falls out but a new hair does not grow in its place. The cause of the failure to grow a new hair is not well understood, but it is associated with genetic predisposition, aging, and levels of endocrine hormones. Changes in the levels of the androgens can affect hair production. For example, after the hormonal changes of menopause, many women find that the hair on the head is thinned, while facial hair is coarser. Although new hair is not produced, the follicle remains alive, suggesting the possibility of new hair growth.

Genetic hair loss and moult or increased hair shedding (chronic telogen effluvium), accounts for by far the majority of all hair loss complaints in women - up 95% in fact before menopause. Unlike men who tend to lose a lot of hair in particular areas, like the temples and crown - Male pattern baldness - women are more likely to thin diffusely from behind the front hairline to the crown.

The most common type of hair loss seen in women is androgenetic alopecia, also known as female pattern alopecia or baldness. This is seen as hair thinning predominantly over the top and sides of the head. It affects approximately one-third of all susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after menopause, although it may begin as early as puberty. Normal hair fall is approximately 100-125 hairs per day. fortunately, these hairs are replaced. True hair loss occurs when lost hairs are not regrown or when the daily hair shed exceeds 125 hairs. Genetically, hair loss can come from either parent's side of the familly.

All women have some of the male hormone testosterone in their bodies, but women with androgenetic alopecia are more sensitive to the hormone. This sensitivity causes hair to thin all over the head, and some women develop thinning patches similar to male-pattern hair loss.

There are two different types of hair loss, medically known as anagen effluvium and Telogen effluvium. Anagen effluvium is generally due to internally administered medications, such as chemotherapy agents, that poison the growing hair follicle Telogen effluvium, is due to an increased number of hair follicles entering the resting stage. The most common causes of telogen effluvium are:

  • Physical stress: surgery, illness, anemia, rapid weight change.
  • Emotional stress: mental illness, death of a family member.
  • Thyroid abnormalities.
  • Medications: High does of Vitamin A -- Blood pressure medications -- Gout medications.
  • Hormonal causes: pregnancy, birth control pills, menopause.

    Causes Of Temporary Hair Loss

  • Medication - Drugs used to treat cancer, blood thinners, antidepressants and high blood pressure medications, as well as birth control pills and high doses of vitamin A, may cause hair loss.
  • Diet - Too little protein and too little iron in your diet can lead to hair loss.
  • Stress or illness - You may begin losing hair one to three months after a stressful situation, such as major surgery. High fevers, severe infections or chronic illnesses can result in hair loss.
  • Childbirth - You may lose large amounts of hair within two to three months after delivery.
  • Alopecia areata - A condition in which hair loss occurs only in certain areas, resulting in hair loss patches the size of a coin or larger.
  • Thyroid disease - An overactive or underactive thyroid can cause hair loss.
  • Ringworm - If this fungal infection occurs on your scalp, it can cause small patches of scaling skin and some hair loss.

When the above causes of telogen effluvium are reversed or altered you should see the return of normal hair growth.

The typical pattern of female-pattern baldness is different than that of male pattern baldness. The hair thins all over the head, but the frontal hairline is maintained. There may be a moderate loss of hair on the crown, but this rarely progresses to total or near baldness as it may in men.

Hair loss can occur in women for reasons other than female-pattern baldness. These may include temporary shedding of hair (telogen effluvium), breaking of hair (from

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