What are the most common causes of hair loss in females?
Just about everyone wants a head of thick, healthy, and shiny hair yet very few of us seem to be able to attain it without going to the salon. This can be made even less attainable if you’re noticing that your hair is thinning or falling out.
It's normal to shed up to 100 hair strands a day without noticing any thinning because you constantly have new hair growing in. Noticeable hair loss occurs when you lose more hair than you grow.
Hair growth occurs in three stages:
- Anagen phase: The growing phase which can last from 2-8 years and accounts for up to 90% of your hair.
- Catagen phase: The transition phase where your hair follicles start to shrink. It lasts 2-3 weeks.
- Telogen phase: This is the resting phase for hair that lasts between 2-4 months. At the end of the phase, the hair will fall out.
It’s natural for our hair to thin as we get older, especially for men, but this doesn’t make the development any less distressing. It can be made even more distressing if it comes on suddenly and you aren’t sure why.
Causes of Hair Loss in Women
There are several factors that can cause female hair loss like stress, genetics, medical treatments, and damage to your hair. The most common type of hair loss is female pattern hair loss, also known as FPHL. FPHL is a progressive condition that usually starts postmenopausal women in their 40s, 50s, 60s, but it can start earlier. It’s thought that genetics determine who will get FPHL and who won’t.
At first, you’ll notice that your part has widened. You may also have receding hair at the temples. With treatment, it’s possible to slow down this type of hair loss. Treatment is most effective when it begins as soon as the hair loss is first noticed.
Additional causes of female hair loss include:
- Family history: People who have a family history with hair loss are more susceptible to hair loss. It can affect both men (male pattern baldness) and women (female pattern baldness).
- Hormonal changes: Your hormones have a lot to do with your overall health. It’s normal to go through hormonal changes throughout your life, but major hormonal shifts can cause several symptoms including hair loss. Reasons for changes in hormones include pregnancy, puberty, childbirth, menopause, and thyroid disorders.
- Medical treatments and conditions: Immune system problems, scalp infections, and anaemia can cause hair loss. Some medical treatments and medications can also cause thinning hair, such as cancer treatment, heart problems, arthritis, and gout.
- Malnutrition: People who don’t get enough vitamins and nutrients into their diet can experience several problems with their health, including hair loss. Your hair is a living thing and needs nutrients to grow and stay healthy.
- Hair treatments: Using heat to style your hair on a frequent basis can damage your hair and cause it to thin or fall out. Hot oil treatments, chemicals, and bleaching are other potentially damaging treatments you should avoid.
- Stress: Emotional and physical stress as well as trauma can cause hair loss, but this is usually temporary.
Tips for Preventing Hair Loss
Not everyone can fight genetics and prevent all hair loss. However, there are several things you can do to reduce the likelihood and severity of hair loss.
- Don’t overwash your hair. How often you need to wash your hair will depend on your hair type, but most people shouldn’t wash it every day. Whenever you wash your hair, you strip it of its natural oils and protective coating. Washing your hair 2 to 3 times a week should be enough to keep your hair clean and healthy.
- Turn down the heat. When you wash your hair, don’t use excessively hot water. Hot water can strip your hair even more of its natural oils, causing damage. As good as it might feel to be under a scaling hot stream of water, your hair will do better without it.
- Check your labels. Some chemicals and additives that are put into shampoo and conditioner aren’t good for your hair. We know not everyone can afford expensive products, but you can find plenty of options in your price range that won’t be introducing nasty chemicals to your locks.
- Let your hair down. Keeping your hair in tight buns or ponytails can cause damage, breakage, and hair loss. Give your hair some free time so that it can be free of any elastics or hair bands.
- Eat foods that promote healthy hair. Vitamins and nutrients are essential to keeping your body healthy, including your hair. Add eggs, spinach, sweet potatoes, and soybeans to your diet to promote healthy locks.
- Eat a balanced diet. Restrictive diets and crash diets can deprive you of the nutrients you need. Instead of rapidly trying to lose weight, learn habits to ensure you eat a balanced diet.
Hair Loss Treatment Options
One of the most commonly prescribed hair loss treatments for men is finasteride. Also sold under the brand name Propecia, men have found a lot of success in reducing the progression of their hair loss. In some instances, some hair may grow back.
While Propecia/finasteride tablets can be prescribed to women, it is not suitable in all situations. Women can experience adverse side effects, especially if they are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. If you want to try Propecia for female hair loss, speak to your GP first before starting it or any other medical treatments.
Your GP or dermatologist will most likely prescribe a different course of treatment, one that may have a multi-pronged approach that is designed to give you the best results. This can include a medication known as minoxidil. It is another treatment designed for men but is approved to be used by women. It is one of the most recommended treatments for FPHL.