Hair loss and thinning hair happen every day for women all over the world; most of it goes unnoticed until it comes time to clean the shower drain. For many women, hair loss is a natural part of life, happening more as you age. However, sometimes it is a symptom of something else. Women experience hair loss for several reasons, both physical and psychological. Some of the most common are:
- Alopecia: This autoimmune caused illness creates bald patches to form, initially across the scalp, but also other areas of the body. Women with alopecia may lose leg and arm hair, eyebrows and even eyelashes. Hair loss caused by alopecia can be painful due to inflammation in the areas where the patches occur. There is no cure, although some forms of treatment and management are available.
- Stress: Long term stress has been known to trigger hair loss, due in part to changes in hormones and sleep patterns. Hair is constantly falling out, but the normal rate of hair loss for a healthy adult is approximately 50 to 100 hairs a day. When the body is overcome by stress it causes a reaction that can stimulate more hairs than normal to fall out all at once, like the disorder Telogen Effluvium.
- Telogen Effluvium: Telogen is one of the natural stages for hair to cycle through. It is the resting phase the precludes the shedding or hair loss phase. It is normal for about 20% - 30% of your hair to be in this phase. Telogen Effluvium occurs when more hair follicles than normal are in the telogen phase. This causes more hair than normal to be left on the brush, be washed down the shower drain, or rub off on a pillow during sleep.
- Hypothyroid Disorder: Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid, a butterfly-shaped gland in the neck, stops producing the thyroid hormone. This affects many areas of the body, including the scalp. Women with hypothyroidism will begin losing much more hair than normal, causing large, but uniform balding patches on the scalp. With proper treatment, women can regain proper hair growth, although this often takes months.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: Another reason women lose hair is called polycystic ovarian syndrome. This is another hormone-based hair loss cause, which occurs due to high levels of the male sex hormone, testosterone. Most women notice the hair loss when washing or brushing hair, as most of the hair tugs free during this process. PCOS is not curable but is manageable, and hair regrowth is often possible with hormone treatments.
While many forms of hair loss are mild, harmless, and treatable, it can sometimes be an indicator of a greater health problem.
Please read our other blogs about these hair loss causes and more.