Hair, hair everywhere – it’s the story of every woman’s life. And while it’s normal to be tugging hair out of shower drains – we lose approximately 80-100 hairs a day – what do you do when the strands clogging up the sink are more numerous than usual? Female hair loss is not only an accepted medical condition, it is extremely common amongst women today. In fact, one-third of women will experience hair loss in their lives. And when it happens, it can be frightening, stressful, and embarrassing. There are multiple causes of female hair loss; keep reading to learn more.
Some women are predisposed to hair loss – a condition called androgenic alopecia. Women with androgenic alopecia may notice a slow and progressive thinning of hair over time. To determine a genetic predisposition, a doctor will ask about your family history: did your mother and grandmother have thin hair or loss of volume over time? Your doctor may view your scalp under a microscope to determine the size and thickness of hair strands. A combination of thin and thick strands may indicate a genetic predilection to hair loss.
Telogen Effluvium (TE)
Excessive, non-genetic daily hair loss that is reactive to an internal imbalance is called telogen effluvium. There are numerous triggers for shedding caused by TE, such as poor nutrition, stress, and hormonal upsets. Physiologically speaking, hair follicles are non-essential organs for the body’s health. In times of need, the body will send more oxygen and blood to vital areas first, which means the scalp will not receive the necessary nutrients for optimal growth. Oftentimes, unexpected hair loss is the first warning sign that an internal system is out of tune. Here are a few of the more common triggers of telogen effluvium:
- Hormonal imbalances: Hormones play a crucial role in regulating the hair growth cycle. Female hormones – such as estrogen and progesterone – are hair-friendly and promote growth, while male hormones (called androgens) suppress growth and shorten the hair growth cycle. Pregnancy can cause temporary hair loss, due to fluctuating estrogen levels, as can the time before and after menopause, also due to changes in levels of female hormones in the body. Polycystic ovary system (PCOS) is a common hormonal disorder amongst females, with side effects including acne, facial hair, and female hair loss.
- Nutritional deficiencies: Poor nutrition is one of the leading causes of hair loss, for both men and women. Like all other organs in the body, your hair follicles maintain strength and energy from the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and proteins you feed them. Lock loss can stem from inadequate intake of calories, protein, and/or micronutrients. Hair follicles are made up of the protein keratin; therefore, they need adequate amounts of protein for growth. B Vitamin deficiencies in B12 and biotin are also linked to hair loss; vitamin B12 affects the health of red blood cells, which are responsible for transporting fresh blood and oxygen to body tissues, and biotin aides in production of the protein keratin. A lack of B12 is most common in vegans, because the vitamin only occurs naturally in animal proteins. Crash diets and drastic weight loss can also lead to hair loss while the body adjusts to decreased intake in calories, carbohydrates, and/or protein.
- Excess stress: When the body is overburdened with stress, it unleashes a whole host of nasty side effects – including headaches, poor appetite, acne, and muscle aches and pain. Go ahead and add hair loss to that list; stress affects your locks both directly and indirectly. Directly, because stress raises androgen levels, which causes hair to fall out. And indirectly, because stress can trigger weight loss or gain, changes in diet, digestive issues, and dandruff – all things that lead to shedding.
- Thyroid imbalances: The thyroid is a gland that aids in metabolism regulation, protein production, and tissue use of oxygen. Both hyperthyroidism and hypothyroidism can affect weight and cause hair to fall out.
- Iron deficiencies: Iron is a crucial mineral in hair follicle production, and iron deficiency and anemia are directly linked to hair loss. Iron assists red blood cells in carrying fresh oxygen through the body – if this process is disrupted or weak, hair follicles will not receive the nutrients they need to grow.
- Physical trauma – such as surgery – or severe illnesses with high fevers.
- Product damage: For women, hair products and styles open numerous doors for female hair loss. Dyes, chemicals, and treatments can all weaken follicles. Washing hair too often, or toweling too aggressively, can also lead to shedding. And hairstyles that place traction on the hair, as well as brushing too hard, can pull and tug hair out by the roots.
When to see a specialist
The good news is that treatment solutions exist for both permanent and temporary female hair loss. If you are a woman suffering from androgenetic alopecia, there are topical treatments and medications available to catalyze hair growth. Hair transplantation is also an effective and satisfying solution for permanent hair loss. Florida Hair Restoration is proud to offer both surgical strip harvesting and follicular unit extraction (FUE) methods of hair restoration. Surgical strip harvesting is often preferred by women with long hair, because longer tresses cover up the surgical scar.
If you are suffering from reactive hair loss, rest assured – telogen effluvium is typically self-eliminating, once the root cause is discovered and corrected. Because hair growth is cyclical, shedding may not occur until anywhere from 3-6 months after the initial trigger. Dietary changes, increasing protein and complex carb intake, or a daily vitamin or supplement may be all it takes to right an internal wrong.
If hair loss persists for longer than three months, it is time to see a doctor, because there could be an underlying medical condition that needs to be addressed. And for females suffering from TE, your doctor can help pinpoint the exact cause of hair loss and get you started on the right treatment path earlier. It will take at least six weeks after treatment starts for results to be visible. Female hair loss is incredibly common and not worth the extra stress and anxiety that comes from suffering through it alone. Don’t waste time with trial and error at home; contact Florida Hair Restoration today and set up your free consultation with our wonderful team of hair restoration professionals.