One of the most common reasons for women to experience hair loss is a condition called female pattern baldness. Caused by the interplay of genetics, hormones and aging, female pattern baldness usually produces only mild to moderate hair loss that does not require medical or cosmetic treatment unless a woman affected by female pattern baldness feels dissatisfied with her appearance.
Hormonal changes contributing to female pattern baldness may occur due to pregnancy, after childbirth or during perimenopause and menopause. Women who stop taking birth control pills may also suffer temporary hair loss as hormone levels attempt to regulate and assume pre-birth control pill levels.
Hair thinning and hair loss is a natural part of aging that affects many women over 60 due to a decrease in female hormone production that causes shrinking hair follicles. Having a mother or grandmother who experienced female pattern baldness will also increase a woman’s risk for suffering this condition.
Treatment for Female Pattern Baldness
Currently, there is only one medication for female pattern baldness that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A mixture containing two percent of the medication is applied to the scalp twice a day to inhibit hair loss. However, discontinuation of this medication will allow female pattern baldness to reappear.
Other Reasons for Female Hair Loss
- Since the thyroid is a gland that helps regulate release of hormones in the body, an overactive or underactive thyroid may induce hair loss when it is not functioning correctly
- An autoimmune disorder called Alopecia areata will force a normally healthy immune system to start attacking hair follicles, resulting in the appearance of smooth, circular bald patches. Treatments for Alopecia areata include steroid injections, topical medications or UV light therapy.
- Medications used to treat depression, cancer, cardiovascular disease and arthritis may induce hair thinning or loss in women
- Excessive weight loss over a short period of time can generate a mild to moderate case of malnutrition in women. Iron, folic acid, protein and biotin deficiencies may be the cause of hair loss in women who are on severe diets
Traumatic emotional or physical shocks (such as suffering an vehicle accident or enduring a long illness) may cause hair to become thin or fall out in clumps. Disrupting the body’s rhythms also disrupts hormone release, which may force hair follicles to remain in the resting or “telogen” phase of hair growth.
Hair cannot grow until old strands are shed (the exogen phase). Until follicles return to functioning normally, old strands continue to break off but new ones are not there to replace them. This condition is medically referred to as “telogen effluvium”.
Visiting a physician or dermatologist, discovering the cause of hair loss and implementing medications, vitamin supplements or lifestyle changes to reverse the condition usually provides desired results by stopping hair thinning and hair loss.