Most common causes and reasons of hair loss in women
The causes and reasons of hair loss in women are incredibly varied. And for those of us suffering with losing our locks, it can be very distressing to sift through all the scary information online to find out exactly what’s going on on top. We’re here to help, with our list of the most common reasons for hair loss in women.
Whether you’re just starting to notice thinning, you have been suffering for a while, or you want to prevent losing your hair to start with, read through Nanogen’s list of the most common causes of hair loss in women and get clued up on the facts.
Causes of hair loss in women: Medical
Anaemia is a deficiency of either iron or Vitamin B12 and develops when your blood lacks enough red blood cells and often results in fatigue, shortness of breath and can cause hair loss in women. The condition essentially sends your body into ‘survival mode’ and channels all the oxygen to support vital organs, limiting the oxygen going to the functions that maintain healthy hair.
Treatment: Most anaemia hair loss is temporary, but the best way to treat it is to tackle the anemia itself. Many anaemics take iron supplements which helps to regulate the oxygen levels and improve hair growth.
Hypothyroidism and Hyperthyroidism can be causes of hair loss in women, due to the misregulation of energy in the body. While Hypo- leads to not enough of the thyroid hormone being produced, Hyper- causes too much. Both cases are causes of hair loss in women.
Treatment: Thankfully, hair loss related to these conditions is easily sorted out with the treatment of the condition itself, which includes regular medication or in some cases, surgery.
Too much vitamin A
A lot of hair and nail supplements contain vitamin A, and its essential for hair growth. However, too much of it can have negative effects on our hair as the follicles ramp up production and cause the hair to reach the end of the anagen phase too quickly and fall out. The body is often unable to make new hair quickly enough to keep up, which is one of the big causes of hair loss in women.
Treatment: Drastically reduce your vitamin A intake (usually ‘too much’ is twice your daily recommended amount). Once your nutrients have leveled out, your hair should grow back properly.
Lack of protein
Protein is so important for hair growth, as our hair is made of it! A lack of it can be one of the reasons of hair loss in women, and can also cause hair to become dry and brittle and generally unhealthy.
Treatment: Up your protein intake! Foods like salmon, eggs and chicken are super high in protein and will help your hair recover fairly quickly.
Chemotherapy is one of the well known causes of hair loss and can be devastating for cancer sufferers. It’s a common misconception that cancer causes hair loss, but in reality it’s the treatment that’s to blame. Chemo drugs are incredibly powerful for attacking cancer cells, but they also harm other growing cells in your body, including your hair follicles.
Treatment: Thankfully, most hair loss caused by chemotherapy is temporary and hair usually grows back three to six months after treatment ends.
Polycystic ovary syndrome
PCOS has a number of symptoms including excess facial hair, weight gain and fatigue, but it can also cause hair loss in women with a genetic predisposition. The condition produces excess male hormones (androgens), which can result in decreased hair growth on your scalp for those with genetically sensitive hair follicles.
Treatment: Although treating PCOS can be complicated, for most sufferers experiencing hair loss a simple anti-androgen drug should solve the issue, along with topical anti-androgen medication.
Trichotillomania is a mental disorder that is characterised by irresistible urges to pull out hair. It's not hard to imagine that it’s a major cause of hair loss in women, as the person often cannot help themselves even if they try to stop.
Treatment: Treatment for Trichotillomania involves various forms of therapy, including habit reversal training and cognitive therapy.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease which can damage any part of the body, and one of the most common symptoms of it is hair loss. Losing your hair unexpectedly may be an early sign of the disease and it can also cause ‘lupus hair’ where the hairline breaks off and creates a ragged appearance.
TreatmentWhile most cases of lupus-related hair loss grows back after treatment of the disease, some is permanent as scarring is left in patches on the scalp. In these cases, concealments like hair fibres will be the best option
Dandruff and scalp psoriasis
Skin conditions on the scalp can commonly cause hair loss in women, including dandruff and scalp psoriasis. Both cause itchy, inflamed skin on the scalp that can lead to intense and prolonged scratching. This scratching can damage the hair follicle and cause breakage to the strands, resulting in increased fall out.
Treatment: Treating and soothing the scalp conditions with medicated shampoos and topical treatments is the best bet for eliminating the itch and reducing fall out.
This rare, inflammatory condition results in patchy, permanent hair loss on the scalp and can affect men and women of all ages. Although the exact cause of lichen planopilaris is still unknown, it is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women that leaves scarring on the scalp.
Treatment: Since the condition is progressive, early treatment only serves to slow down the progress and alleviate the symptoms. Anti-inflammatories are prescribed to prevent further hair loss and minimise discomfort of the scalp.
Although there are other STDs that are causes of hair loss in women, Syphilis is by far the most common. Hair loss occurs in the later stages of the disease, and manifests in either patchy hair loss or diffuse thinning across the head. As the condition progresses, it causes rashes on the skin and scalp, damaging hair follicles and causing hair loss. Treatment: Once the STD is treated, the damaged follicles should recover as normal.
Yet another autoimmune disease that causes hair loss in women! Scleroderma results in the hardening and thickening of connective tissue and creates excess collagen in the skin, which strangles the hair follicle and causes hair loss.
Treatment: Although treating scleroderma can be incredibly complex, once treated the hair follicles should recover.
Ringworm is instantly recognisable by ring-shaped rashes on the body. The fungal infection can be a reason of hair loss in women, although it can often be misdiagnosed as dandruff or impetigo.
Treatment: A trip to the doctor will be the best way to treat the infection, usually through anti-fungal medication. Hair will start to regrow once the ringworm is gone.
Medications that are causes of hair loss in women:
- Anticoagulants (or blood thinners)
- Gout medications
- Beta blockers
- Anti inflammatories
- Birth control
- Cholesterol lowering drugs
- High blood pressure medications
- Parkinson’s disease treatments
- Weight loss drugs
How to fight causes of hair loss in women
The treatment and prevention of hair loss largely depends on the cause of the condition. There are, however, certain instances of hair loss that can easily be prevented such as traction alopecia, rapid weight loss and overstyling.