Although baldness in men is often accepted as a genetic sign of ageing, hair loss for women is not only less common, but can also have a greater impact on self-esteem and quality of life. Although this is largely due to social miens, the lower ratio of hair loss in women in the population also contributes to the impact of the condition.
It should be noted that some thinning of the hair over time is not uncommon, although this tends to present more as a general loss of volume rather than actual pattern baldness. These changes tend to occur most frequently in women who range from peri-menopausal to post-menopause ages, although some genetic factors can cause hair loss in girls who are entering puberty.
The Causes of Hair Loss in Women
The most common reason for hair loss in women is due to heredity. Just as men can trace the predisposition for baldness through looking at fathers and grandfathers, women can also determine whether hair loss runs in the family. One of the more common indicators for genetic causes can actually come from examining the scalp to evaluate the viability of the follicles. If the appearance of smaller and larger follicles is present, then it is likely that genetics are a foundation for the condition.
However, these hereditary factors can also become activated through other variables that can be present. The hormonal changes that are undergone during menopause are thought to contribute to the thinning of hair in women and can even become precursors to activating the genetic code that regulates hair loss and regrowth.
One thing that should be noted is that regular loss with washing or gently brushing the hair is perfectly natural and is part of the body’s way of keeping the scalp health enough to stimulate new growth. Problems with hair loss in women come when the hair follicle loses its viability, and the strands that are being shed are no longer being replaced. This will frequently present more as patches that become evident on the scalp, along with the overall thinning of the hair.
Nutrition and vitamin deficiencies can also greatly influence the progression of hair loss in women. Many of the vital components that go into building hair are also responsible for forming connective tissue. If the nutritional requirements for this are not met by the individual, then the body will pull from less integral areas in order to make up the deficit. In many cases of extreme thinning that is not caused by heredity, supplementation can become a viable way of improving appearance.
Finally, illnesses and conditions which are not directly symptomatic for hair loss can also cause these changes in physiology, either through nutrient depletion or through hormonal imbalances. Causes of hair loss in women can also include:
Two other causes of hair loss in women should also be examined as these are factors that can be remedied with lifestyle changes. Stress is one common cause for thinning of the hair, since it taxes the body and utilizes vital resources that should be available to all systems. However, the effects of stress can still be similar to the outcome of a nutritional deficiency, although the reason for it happening may not be due to actual intake of foods. This is also important to note as it presents a clear view of the physical impacts that psychological factors can have on well-being.
One final cause that should be addressed concerns itself with the manner in which the hair and scalp is cared for. Practices such as the extensive use of chemicals, for dying of relaxing hair can damage the scalp and the follicles to the point of preventing the regrowth of the hair. This can also apply to products that may be used on a regular basis and can become drying to the sheath of the hair and the scalp. Styling practices also fall under this heading, since tight braids such as with cornrows, can also unnecessarily cause damage.
How to Manage Hair Loss for Women
Fortunately, depending upon the actual cause of the thinning of the hair, many women do have practical and functional options for counteracting the evidence of hair loss. Before exploring these options, it is recommended that women seek the advice and diagnosis of their physician, especially since treatment choices can depend on the cause.
In most cases, a doctor will conduct a physical examination of the scalp and hairline, run several blood panels, and also ask for a medical history of the person and about other women in the family. Blood panels can uncover causes such as:
- Hormonal imbalances
- Thyroid disease
- Heavy metal poisoning
- Other diseases that can contribute to hair loss
If these other conditions are not evident as the cause and families histories do show a proclivity for hair loss in women, then the genetic causative factor can be cited.
If an adjunct factor such as stress or another imbalance is at the root of the problem, women are often able to focus on this main cause for treatment, and the return to normal hair growth resumes. This is especially evident in cases where vitamin deficiencies or overdose have led to hair falling out, and positive result can be seen in as little as one to two months.
Some general means of management, such as the use of wigs can be appropriate as the body returns to balance, but there beauty appliances can also be a practical solution for cases where genetics plays the larger role in the condition. Hereditary hair loss cannot always be effectively reversed, although women’s formulations of Rogaine can be effective if the hair loss is not extreme. This chemical compound essentially fortifies follicles that could be at risk for losing viability, and can spark new growth in root beds that have just shed strands
Hair transplants can be another solution, although it may take several rounds of treatment to see results. This can be due to transplants not rooting properly, but can also be a factor of how much transplantation needs to be done.