A normal woman has a head full of approximately 120,000 to 150,000 hair strands. The rate at which hair falls out is around fifty to a hundred strands daily. Various factors can trigger a situation where more hair than usual falls out over a certain period of time. Below, we look at the seven most common causes of hair loss in women, their treatment and effective hair loss prevention methods.
Hair loss can occur as a result of a negative medical condition. Some illnesses have hair loss as a symptom while other diseases put the individual at greater risk for hair loss. Diseases that cause hair loss include anemia, thyroid cancer, lupus, leprosy, thyroid disorders, psoriasis of the scalp, ringworm and many more.
These diseases usually cause hair loss by causing an unusually large number of hair strands to become dormant, stop growing and go into a resting stage. Around three months later, these hairs fall out.
2. Excessive stress
For many years there has been the myth that stress can turn the hair gray faster or make it fall out. This is mostly wrong. A little stress now and then will not have any effect on your hair. The danger is in excessive stress. Too much stress usually leads to various physiological changes in one’s life, which in turn can cause hair loss. A good example is when one stops eating properly after losing a job and hair falls out due to lack of adequate nutrients. Stress from surgery or illness can directly affect hair by either making it go dormant (telogen effluvium) or triggering white blood cells to attack the hair follicles (alopecia areata).
3. Crash diet
Crash dieting is where a person makes an extreme and sudden change in diet. For instance when one is trying a new extreme weight loss diet, some nutrients may be lacking, resulting in the shedding of a lot of hair after which the hair becomes dormant for a long period of time. The stress resulting from the sudden transition can also be a major factor in subsequent hair loss.
Genetic hair loss is referred to as androgenetic alopecia and is one of the most reported causes of hair loss in women. The hair loss can either start at the front hair line or it may be distributed across the whole scalp. Generally, hereditary hair loss is as a result of inadequate hair growing to replace normally shed hairs. This condition can be inherited form either parent.
5. Hormone imbalance
Numerous functions in our bodies are triggered and controlled by hormones. Hormonal imbalances can therefore affect us in many ways, one of them being hair loss. People with thyroid disease may experience a condition called hypothyroidism where too little thyroid hormone is produced. This can lead to slowed hair growth and eventual loss of large amounts of hair. Other conditions such as pregnancy and menopause also witness a lot of hormonal imbalances which can lead to loss of hair. In pregnancy, hair loss is usually postpartum when all pregnancy hormones have worn off.
Common medications have mild effects such as headaches and nausea. Some other medications, however, can lead to mild or acute hair loss. This can either be a genuine side effect or it can be that you need a slight change of medication. Hair loss-causing medication interferers with the usual hair growth cycle in two ways. Either, through telogen effluvium, where hair becomes dormant then falls out too soon before the resting stage is over, or anagen effluvium, where cell division which produces new hair follicles is hampered.
7. Poor nutrition
Hair needs nutrients to grow. You can either eat too much of one nutrient, thus denying your hair of other crucial nutrients, or you may lack all the nutrients needed for proper hair growth. One of the most important nutrients is protein. Since hair is basically a protein and the main component, Keratin, is also a protein, it needs this nutrient to grow. Other important nutrients include vitamin E, vitamin D, iron and various trace minerals such as magnesium, selenium and copper.
Basically, a properly balanced diet will provide all the nutrients needed to maintain a healthy hair growth cycle.
Preventing and Treating Hair Loss in Women
Seeking treatment early enough is important in treating and managing hair loss. Instead of trying to hide your baldness or thinning hair, seeking the help of a doctor is much more helpful.
Androgenetic alopecia or hereditary hair loss, which is the most common cause of loss of hair in females, is usually treated using Minoxidil. The FDA approved topical medicine can be easily bought over the counter in liquid form. Ensure that you have bought the 2% prescription for women, although some users claim the 5% one meant for men is much more effective for women. Iron supplements may also help restore hair loss in women although research is still ongoing. If hormonal imbalance is the culprit in hair loss, oral contraceptives or spironolactone are used. The final treatment for hair loss is hair transplant where healthy hair follicles are taken from one part of the body and transplanted onto the bald part. It is a fairly safe and highly effective treatment method.
The most important thing is to take proper care of your hair. Do not constantly use heat to treat or style it, stay away from hair styles that are too tight, use mild and approved hair conditioners and shampoos and do not brush your hair when it’s wet.
Avoid extremely stressful situations or learn how to manage the stress that results. Another important prevention measure is a balanced diet. If you are breastfeeding, it is even more important to eat well to replace lost nutrients. If your hair still keeps on shedding abnormally, talk to your doctor about using the right supplements to supply certain crucial minerals such as selenium.
Most cases of hair loss in women can be prevented or treated. If neither can be done, such as in the case of genetics, hair loss can be managed through medications or ultimately, hair transplant surgery. Whatever your case is, do not hide it, seek treatment now before it worsens.
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