Everybody loses some hair sometimes. A normal healthy person loses 50 to 100 hairs per day. For those with thicker, darker hair, this might appear to be more hair than those with thinner, lighter hair, but it’s still perfectly natural.
When hair loss becomes dramatic, such as when it comes out in handfuls or thinning areas and bald patches appear, it could be a sign of a hair thinning condition. Up to 60 per cent of the female population experiences a hair thinning condition at some point in their life. The good news is that it’s normally not dangerous and there’s often something you can to do to manage it and promote new hair growth.
Telogen Effluvium Hair Loss
The most common cause of dramatic hair loss in women is known as telogen effluvium. This is the hair loss that occurs after pregnancy, significant weight loss or periods of extreme stress.
During telogen effluvium events, the period of active growth between a follicle’s resting and shedding phases becomes shorter. In post-pregnancy, the high hormone levels that have extended this active growth phase are falling. The growth phase is shortened and shedding occurs.
In this case, female hair loss is temporary. Telogen effluvium occurs six weeks to three months after the pregnancy ends, and the hair then continues to grow as usual once this period has passed. If the condition is caused by a stressful reaction to something such as a prescription drug, however, you do need to take action.
Anaemia-related Hair Loss
Anaemia is a condition caused by a serious deficiency in iron. The body needs iron in order to produce red blood cells and transport oxygen to cells throughout the body. If oxygen isn’t reaching the hair follicles in your scalp, hair growth slows and you might experience hair loss.
Other symptoms of anaemia include being very tired all the time, noticing unusually pale skin (from lack of oxygen at the surface rather than from staying out of the sun), headaches, and cold hands and feet. You can also take a blood test to determine if you are anaemic.
Luckily, the condition is easily treated. First, you can enrich your diet with healthy, low-fat, iron-rich foods such as lean beef, fish, leafy dark green food, porridge and beans. There are also a number of supplements on the market for anaemia-related hair loss that help oxygen reach the scalp.
Scalp Skin Conditions Hair Loss
When the skin on the scalp is unhealthy, it makes it very hard for hair to grow naturally. Skin conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), psoriasis, eczema and fungal infections can all wreak havoc on hair growth.
Dandruff might be hormonal, or it could be the result of a yeast called Malassezia, which leads to excessive oil in the skin. It could also be caused by using the wrong shampoo. Experts agree that many people who use off-the-shelf anti-dandruff shampoos do not actually have dandruff. Furthermore, the descaling action of the shampoo might exasperate already sensitive skin.
Both psoriasis, an autoimmune condition, and fungal infections need to be examined by a doctor or dermatologist. When the condition is treated, hair loss should be reduced.
Hair Loss Due to Excessive Styling
It’s a cruel twist of fate: you notice hair loss and begin to style your hair to cover the loss, but excessive styling is a major cause of hair loss in women. Too much and too frequent shampooing, colouring, perming, straightening and hair-dryer use damage the hair follicles and the hair itself.
The solution to this type of hair loss is quite straightforward. Try to take a break from styling and consider a shorter haircut until your scalp recovers. You can also try a supplement to promote and support new growth.
Androgenetic Alopecia Hair Loss
Genetic hair loss is known as androgenetic alopecia and is the most common cause of long-term hair loss in women. We’ve included it towards the bottom of the list because it is so common that any incident of hair loss is usually first believed to be androgenetic alopecia. However, it’s always best to rule out the other possible causes first.
Women with androgenetic alopecia often develop thinning at the hairline behind the fringe and at the temples. Many women don’t notice they have the condition until it becomes pronounced, but the condition can begin to develop in your 20s.
As it becomes more visible, a pattern of thinning might appear. The pattern may diffuse and spread across the entire scalp, leaving wispy, thin hair with bald patches. As with many other types of female hair loss, there is a solution. Your first port of call should be to check with your dermatologist if you have androgenetic alopecia. If so, you can normally use a minoxidil product to stop the loss and regrow your hair. You’ve probably heard of men using minoxidil and likely heard of the good results. That’s because minoxidil products are easy to use and are very powerful. Simply apply it to the scalp twice a day and try not to skip applications. Of course, if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or nursing, you should delay using minoxidil products until it is safe to do so.
Alopecia Hair Loss
Alopecia is an autoimmune disorder suffered by thousands of women across the UK. The condition attacks hair follicles all over the body and causes hair loss. Although the exact cause is unknown, it’s understood to be triggered by stress and illness.
There are three types of alopecia. Alopecia areata causes round, smooth areas of baldness and is most noticeable on the scalp, but it can also be seen when it affects the eyebrows, arms or legs. Alopecia totalis is when total baldness occurs on the scalp. Alopecia universalis leads to hairlessness all over the body.
If you experience alopecia symptoms, your doctor will first likely want to rule out hormonal causes and iron deficiency. Alopecia is usually treated with intralesional corticosteroids, which will be prescribed by your doctor. Your doctor might also opt to prescribe something to reduce your feelings of stress. Minoxidil products are often also recommended as part of the treatment package.