Hair loss in women
Female hair loss can have a dismaying or even devastating influence on a woman’s quality of life, not least because hair loss is, often wrongly considered, a less significant psychological and emotional problem for women than it is for men. Too often, a woman’s hair loss is not taken seriously by family or friends or even by a woman’s personal physician.
While hair loss itself can present psychological and emotional problems for a woman, failure of others to recognise the seriousness of these problems, may contribute to psychological and emotional effects that can range from decreased self-esteem to anxiety and depression.
Female hair loss may also be overlooked as a “normal” phenomenon. Gradual hair loss is often associated with ageing. Temporary hair loss is often associated with pregnancy. Very often, women have pattern hair loss that “runs in the family”.
Hair loss in a woman should never be considered “normal”; however, the cause should be pursued until a diagnosis is established. Of the many causes of hair loss in women, only a few such as ageing, hormonal changes associated with pregnancy and hereditary pattern hair loss may be considered “normal”. Treatment is available for hair loss due to these conditions, and treatment should be considered when hair loss influences the woman’s quality of life. .
Different types of female hair loss
The Ludwig Scale (below) identifies the different types of female hair loss.
Female Hair Loss – Ludwig Scale
Common causes of Female Hair Loss
Below is a list of common causes in female hair loss:
Androgenetic Alopecia – hereditary pattern hair loss with a typical pattern of diffuse thinning over the central scalp. It is the most common type of hair loss. It occurs in about 20% of women.
Alopecia Areata – a recurrent disease of unknown cause, that results in patchy loss of hair from the scalp and/or eyebrows.
Telogen Effluvium – a condition that causes shedding of hair over the entire scalp, it may be chronic but may also be acute following a stressful event; such as high fever, severe dietary deficiency, and chronic blood loss from heavy menstruation.
Loose Anagen Syndrome – a condition that causes hair to shed before its normal growth cycle is completed. Hair can be pulled out by normal combing or brushing.
Traction Alopecia – tight braiding and corn-rowing can, over time, cause permanent damage to hair and scalp and result in hair loss.
Chemicals – some chemicals used in hair styling can, over time, cause permanent damage to hair and scalp and result in hair loss.
Trichotillomania (compulsive hair plucking) – a person feels compelled to pluck hair in regular or bizarre patterns, resulting over time in traction alopecia and permanent hair loss.
Scarring Alopecia – hair loss due to scarring of the scalp area. Scarring alopecia typically involves the top of the scalp and occurs predominantly in women. The condition frequently occurs in Afro-Caribbean women and is believed to be associated with persistent tight braiding or “corn-rowing” of the hair. A form of scarring alopecia may also occur in postmenopausal women, associated with inflammation of hair follicles and subsequent scarring.
Hypothyroidism – thyroid deficiency can be associated with thinning, patchy hair loss.
Pregnancy – hormonal changes and stress of pregnancy may cause temporary hair loss.