Mistakenly thought to be a strictly male condition, women actually make up about 40 percent of hair loss sufferers and can be devastating for their self-image and emotional wellbeing. The psychological damage caused by female hair loss and the associated feelings of unattractiveness can be just as devastating as any serious disease and, in fact, can take an emotional toll that directly affects their physical health.
Female pattern hair loss relates to the natural thinning process that many women experience as they grow older whereby the hair gets noticeably thinner around the crown and forehead areas. The reason this form of hair loss occurs in women is that the levels of estrogen decline as a woman ages. Estrogen, in its various forms, helps to counter-act the effects of the male hormone testosterone, which all women have in their bodies to some degree. This in turn has a minimizing effect on the levels of the testosterone variant, Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that is produced and it is this DHT that is primarily responsible for hair loss. This is a common occurrence in women once the onset of menopause starts and there is a marked increase in the percentage of women who suffer from this affliction once they reach the age of 40. Once a woman reaches menopause, the levels of estrogen decrease markedly and the effects of testosterone and DHT become more evident. This in turn leads to the thinning of hair around the crown and forehead areas. The life cycle of the hair follicles in these areas becomes shorter, and shedding of hair becomes more frequent. DHT appears to be at least partially to blame for the miniaturization of hair follicles in women suffering with female pattern baldness, however heredity can also be a major factor in the disease.
Alopecia areata are bald patches that may come and go. It can occur at any age, but mostly affects teenagers and young women. Six out of ten women affected by this condition develop their first bald patch before they are 20 years old. It is thought that Alopecia areata is caused by a problem with the immune system. It is also believed that some women’s genes make them more susceptible to alopecia areata, as one in five sufferers have a family history of the condition. Alopecia areata often appears as well-defined circular bald patches on the scalp but in many cases the hair grows back after about a year.
Telogen effluvium is a common form of female hair loss that happens when there is a change in the number of hair follicles growing hair. When the body goes through something traumatic like child birth, a severe infection, major surgery, or extreme stress, many of the 90 percent or so hairs in the anagen (growing phase) or catagen (resting phase) can shift all at once into the telogen (shedding phase). About six weeks to three months after the stressful event is usually when this hair loss condition can start. It appears as a diffuse thinning of hair on the scalp that may not be even all over and can be more severe in some areas than others. Normally the hair on top of the scalp thins more than it does at the back and sides and there is usually no hairline recession. Women with telogen effluvium never completely lose all their scalp hair but the hair can be noticeably thin in severe cases. However, the condition is fully reversible. The trigger factors for this condition are many and varied but arguably the two most common causes are chronic stress and diet deficiency. It is believed that chronic stress can gradually have a negative effect on hair growth and lead to persistent telogen effluvium.
Is also a form of diffuse hair loss like telogen effluvium, but develops much more rapidly and can cause women to lose all their hair. The condition is most frequently caused when taking cytostatic drugs for cancer or associated with chemotherapy. Since chemotherapy targets your body’s rapidly dividing cancer cells, your other rapidly dividing cells such as hair follicles in the growing (anagen) phase, are also greatly affected. Soon after chemotherapy begins approximately 90 percent or more of the hairs can fall out while still in the anagen phase.
While the development of anagen effluvium is rapid, recovery can be equally as rapid. Because the follicles are just frozen in time they are ready to grow once the factor causing the anagen effluvium has been removed.
This form of hair loss is caused by localised trauma to the hair follicles from tight hairstyles such as braiding, cornrows, tight ponytails, and extensions that pull at the hair over time. However, if the condition is detected early enough, the hair will regrow.