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Top Reasons for Hair Loss in Women

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Yes, men are more likely to lose their hair than women, mostly due to male pattern baldness but thinning hair and hair loss are also common in women, and much more traumatic it seems. Reasons can range from the simple and temporary like a vitamin deficiency or more complex, like a health condition.

In most cases, there are ways to treat your hair loss. It all depends on what is causing it. We want to let you know what are some common and not-so-common reasons why you might be seeing less hair on your head. Everyone loses hair, on average, we lose fifty to a hundred hairs a day. That is just hair going through its normal cycles, and a new one comes along to replace it. But hair loss may be a sign of a more serious medical condition that needs an evaluation by a doctor and possible treatment. Here are the top reasons for hair loss in women.

  • Telogen Effluvium –  A phenomenon that occurs after pregnancy, major surgery, drastic weight loss, or extreme stress, in which you shed large amounts of hair every day. The symptoms are hair loss 6 weeks to 3 months after a stressful event. At its peak, you may lose handfuls of hair. In some cases, such as pregnancy or major surgery, you may have to wait it out until the hair loss slows. If medication is the culprit, talk to your doctor about lowering your dosage or switching drugs. If it’s stress-related, do your best to reduce anxiety.
  • Hereditary Hair Loss –  The most common cause of hair loss. The gene can be inherited from either your mother’s or father’s side of the family, though you’re more likely to have it if both of your parents had hair loss. The symptoms are thinning at the hairline behind the bangs. The condition develops slowly and may start as early as your 20s. Slow the hair loss by applying minoxidil (Rogaine) to the scalp twice a day. The drug works on both women and men. a
  • Hypothyroidism – When your body produces too little thyroid hormone, you have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. If your body makes too much of the hormone, you’re said to have hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid.  The symptoms are unexplained weight gain, fatigue, constipation, depression, and difficulty concentrating. Hair, nails, and skin may become more brittle and break more easily. Your doctor may prescribe a thyroid hormone medication to restore levels to normal. Regular TSH tests might be done to ensure an adequate dosage.
  • Lupus – A chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s own immune system attacks healthy tissues. The symptoms are extreme fatigue, headaches, oral ulcers, and painful, swollen joints. Many people develop a butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of the nose and become more sensitive to the sun.  You should see a rheumatologist if your hair loss is accompanied by joint pain, fatigue, and other symptoms of lupus. If you also have a rash on the scalp, you need to see a dermatologist.
  • Iron Deficiency Anemia – Women who have heavy periods or don’t eat enough iron-rich foods may be prone to iron deficiency. The symptoms are extreme fatigue, weakness, and pale skin. You may also notice headaches, difficulty concentrating, cold hands and feet, and hair loss.  You should eat iron-rich foods such as beef, pork, fish, leafy greens, fortified cereals, and beans, preferably, along with foods rich in vitamin C, which enhances iron absorption.
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome – It can begin as early as age 11, is caused by a hormonal imbalance in which the ovaries produce too many male hormones. The symptoms are facial hair growth, irregular periods, acne, and cysts on the ovaries. And while you may experience hair loss on your scalp, you may notice more hair elsewhere on the body. You can be  treated with birth control pills such as Yasmin, which contains a potent anti-androgen that blocks testosterone.
  • Skin Conditions of the Scalp – An unhealthy scalp can cause inflammation that makes it difficult for hair to grow. Skin conditions that lead to hair loss include seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), psoriasis, and fungal infections such as ringworm. The symptoms are greasy, yellowish scales on your shoulders or in your hair. It may be the result of yeast called Malassezia, hormonal changes, or excess oil in the skin. Psoriasis causes excessive skin cell turnover, produces a very thick white scale on the scalp that can bleed if pulled off. With ringworm you will notice red patches on your scalp. Each condition usually requires a prescription: a medicated shampoo for seborrheic dermatitis, medications or light therapy for psoriasis, and oral antifungals for ringworm.
  • Alopecia Areata – Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks hair follicles. The cause is unknown, but it may be triggered by stress or illness. The symptoms are round, smooth patches of baldness on the scalp, eyebrows, or legs.  Alopecia areata is usually treated with intralesional corticosteroids. In some cases, minoxidil (Rogaine) may also help. It’s also important to reduce stress.
  • Excessive Styling – Too much shampooing, styling, and chemicals can harm your hair. Heat and chemicals weaken the hair, causing it to break and fall out. Often, it’s a combination of treatments that does the damage. The symptoms are breakage and dryness.  You can try setting your hair dryer on cooler settings, and don’t overuse your flat irons. Don’t color your hair more than two shades lighter than its normal color. If you use hair gel or hair spray, don’t wait for it to dry before you comb through it, because the hair will harden and be more likely to break.

The condition of your hair does not just affect your looks, it may be a very important indicator of your health. If you’re experiencing hair loss, talk to your doctor and see what he or she has to say about it. If you can catch it early enough you may be able to save yourself from an uncomfortable situation.

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