Until recently, the issue of hair loss in women was thought to be uncommon. Recent research, however, has shown it’s a lot more widespread than previously believed. Some estimates say as many as 25 million American women (or more) experience noticeable hair loss and the debilitating effects that often go along with it. Female hair loss causes are somewhat different than those typically seen in men, and the psychological effects can be very different as well.
The look of baldness in many females is generally different from its appearance in men. Women typically do not go bald or partly bald, and they typically don’t have bald spots on the crown of their head. In women, hair loss typically shows up as overall thinning of their hair, both the number of hair on the head and the depth of every individual hair. Some women do have a receding hairline, but seldom as pronounced and noticeable as what many men experience.
A woman’s self esteem and sense of self are typically more determined by how they look than is normally true for men. Needless to say, men find it painful to lose their own hair, but for females the psychological effects can be especially devastating.
When you think of how much money and effort goes into marketing women’s hair care products, styling products, makeup and hair care appliances like blow dryers and curling irons, it’s not hard to understand why women find it so painful to experience hair loss. Our society puts so much emphasis on looks, especially for girls, that female hair loss may result in a lot of emotional pain, anxiety, and even trigger episodes of depression.
The most frequent female baldness causes are related to medical conditions and hormonal changes. While many are very similar to those experienced by men, many more are specific to women.
Hormones – Girls experience a lot more hormonal problems than men do, and in a much greater frequency. Pregnancy, childbirth and menopause are conditions unique to women that could impact the quantity and permanence of hair loss and lead to balding.
Medication – Many medicines can cause or contribute to female hair loss, such as anti-depressants, blood thinners, birth control pills, anti-cholesterol drugs and chemotherapy drugs.
Illness/Surgery – Many common disorders can cause female hair loss, including diabetes and thyroid- or under-activity, as may conditions that place the body under stress such as high fevers or major operation.
Other Reasons – Anemia, anorexia, bulimia, extra vitamin A, fungal diseases, and zinc or fatty acid deficiency may also be the cause of hair loss in women.
Female pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is estimated to occur in 15 percent or less of American girls. The chemical process in the body is similar, because hormones and dehydrotestosterone (DHT) combine to cause hair follicles to shut down. Despite the fact that the chemical method is identical, the look of the baldness in females is generally different, with women experiencing overall thinning of hair in contrast to the bald spots or conspicuous receding hairline so prevalent in men.
Some experts theorize that differences in hair follicles between females and males can lead to differences in the appearance of baldness. In men, hair tends to grow up from the follicle, causing oil and other secretions on the scalp to build up and prevent follicles. In women, however, hair tends to grow from the follicle at an angle, allowing oil and secretions to flow more easily from the follicle.
Girls subject their own hair to a lot of everyday stresses that may cause hair damage and hair loss. A few such female baldness causes include:
O Regular use of blow dryers, curling irons and other heated appliances
O Improper or unpleasant brushing and/or combing
O Regular wearing of tight ponytails, braids, and other hair restraints
While these items typically do not cause instantaneous or permanent hair loss in females, they do frequently cause dry, damaged hair which is more likely to break off and consequently appear thinner and more fragile. In women whose hair is already thin as a result of hormonal changes that come with aging, activities like these can have a massive effect on hair appearance.
Women experiencing baldness should consult their physician for an accurate diagnosis of what’s causing them to shed hair. In the event of an undiagnosed condition such as diabetes or thyroid issues, treating the medical condition can often stop and even reverse baldness issues. If the physician finds that hormonal issues associated with aging and menopause are the cause, then he or she is the ideal source for information and guidance on successful female hair loss remedies.
There’s only one topical female hair loss treatment approved by the FDA for use by women – minoxidil. This medicine is marketed under the name Rogaine and is easily available over the counter in most drug stores, grocery stores, and online.
Rogaine is good at restoring hair growth and diminishing the appearance of thinning hair in women, but often it takes several months for results to become noticeable in many females. It’s fairly simple and convenient to apply from the privacy of home, but have to be continued indefinitely to be able to keep hair regrowth. If Rogaine use is stopped, any hair that has regrown will be lost once more.
Surgical Hair Restoration
Surgical hair loss treatments like baldness are very effective for male pattern baldness, but since the nature of hair loss differs in women, females are usually not good candidates for such therapy. Hair grafting is a procedure of preventing hair from actively growing parts of the head and transplanting them to areas of thinning and stunted development. Because females have a tendency to lose their hair all over the head rather than in a concentrated place, grafting doesn’t normally have much effect. For those women who have certain balding spots or stains, however, surgical therapy may be an alternative. It’s wise to consult an experienced hair restoration surgeon that will diagnose the cause and suggest an appropriate solution.