The most common type of hair loss seen in women is androgenetic alopecia, also known as female pattern alopecia or baldness. This is seen as hair thinning predominantly over the top and sides of the head. It affects approximately one-third of all susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after menopause, although it may begin as early as puberty. Normal hair fall is approximately 100-125 hairs per day. Fortunately, these hairs are replaced. True hair loss occurs when lost hairs are not regrown or when the daily hair shed exceeds 125 hairs. Genetically, hair loss can come from either parents side of the family.
There are two different types of hair loss, medically known as anagen effluvium and Telogen effluvium. Anagen effluvium is generally due to internally administered medications, such as chemotherapy agents, that poison the growing hair follicle. Telogen effluvium, is due to an increased number of hair follicles entering the resting stage.
The most common causes of Telogen Effluvium are:
Physical stress: surgery, illness, anemia, rapid weight change.
Emotional stress: mental illness, death of a family member.
Medications: High doses of Vitamin A, Blood pressure and Gout medications.
Hormonal causes: pregnancy, birth control pills, menopause.
When the above causes of telogen effluvium are reversed or altered you should see the return of normal hair growth.
Hair loss may also occur due to dieting. Franchised diet programs which are designed or administered under the direction of a physician with prescribed meals, dietary supplements and vitamin ingestion have become popular. Sometimes the client is told that vitamins are a necessary part of the program to prevent hair loss associated with dieting. From a dermatologists’s standpoint, however, the vitamins cannot prevent hair loss associated with rapid, significant weight loss. Furthermore, many of these supplements are high in vitamin A which can magnify the hair loss.
Physical and Emotional Stress
Surgeries, severe illnesses and emotional stress can cause hair loss. The body simply shuts down production of hair during periods of stress since it is not necessary for survival and instead devotes its energies toward repairing vital body structures. In many cases there is a three month delay between the actual event and the onset of hair loss. Furthermore, there may be another three month delay prior to the return of noticeable hair regrowth. This then means that the total hair loss and regrowth cycle can last 6 months or possibly longer when induced by physical or emotional stress. There are some health conditions which may go undetected that can contribute to hair loss. These include anemia or low blood count and thyroid abnormalities. Both of these conditions can be detected by a simple, inexpensive blood test.
Hormonal changes are a common cause of female hair loss. Many women do not realize that hair loss can occur after pregnancy or following discontinuation of birth control pills. It is important to remember that the hair loss may be delayed by three months following the hormonal change and another three months will be required for new growth to be fully achieved.
Myths Related to Hair Loss
Treatment Options for Female Pattern Hair Loss
There are a number of causes of hair loss. Among these are:
Traction alopecia is the loss of hair caused by physically stressing and putting tension on the hair. Certain hairstyling including hair weaving and corn rows that were done too tightly can cause this type of hair loss.
Alopecia areata, a disease of the body that causes hair loss, affects approximately two million Americans. Alopecia areata causes patchy hair loss. Two other forms of this disease are Alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis. Alopecia totalis is the condition that causes the loss of hair over the entire scalp; Alopecia universalis is when the condition of hair loss spreads over the entire body, even including eyebrows and eyelashes.
Although the causes of Alopecia areata are unknown, there is evidence that it could be a breakdown of the immune system resulting in what is called an autoimmune disorder. This is when the immune system thinks that the hair follicle is a foreign body, and attacks it. There is also the possibility that heredity plays a factor, because studies have shown that for one out of five people with alopecia areata, someone else in the family also had it. Ongoing research will help to discover the causes of alopecia areata, so that better treatments can be used.
Androgenetic Alopecia is the modern medical term for either male or female pattern baldness. Androgenetic Alopecia represents close to 95% of all hair loss. This type of hair loss can be defined in two parts. First, andro- means to consist of androgens which are various hormones that control the appearance and development of masculine characteristics such as testosterone. Second is genetics, or the inheritance of genes from either the mother or father. Age added to genetics creates a time clock that signals the hair follicle to produce an enzyme named 5-alpha reductase. When testosterone is present in the follicle and it combines with the enzyme 5-alpha reductase, it produces DHT. DHT attacks the hair follicle, causing it to shrink, finally causing the hair to fall out and not grow back.
Anagen effluvium is the condition where hair loss is caused by internally taking certain medicines that can poison the hair follicle, keeping it from growing. One of the most common medicines that cause this type of hair loss is chemotherapy agents.