The Most Common Causes of Hair Loss for Women

woman hair loss

Hair loss is devastating for anyone, but can be especially difficult for women as long, thick hair is a coveted feature in today’s society. For the average person, losing 1-200 strands of hair per day is completely normal. Unfortunately, by the time a women notices abnormal hair loss, she’s likely already lost about 50% of her hair. So who does it effect and how does it happen?

One common form of hair loss for women is telogen effluvium, which is typically caused by high fever, childbirth, certain medications such as antidepressants or blood pressure medicines, blood thinners, hormones, iron deficiency, and crash diets. What happens is an increased amount of hair follicles go into a rest phase, instead of a growth phase that is considered normal.

Stress can also be a major contributor with hair loss typically occurring a few months after some sort of trauma or stressful event. This can even happen following a big surgical procedure your body is trying to recover from. Luckily, this form of hair loss typically stops and full density is achieved after the hair has time to grow and even out.

Hair breakage is different in that the full strand is not lost at the base but may break from excessive blow-drying, brushing, or frequently wearing tight braids. Certain hair products or more time in between rough hair treatments can reduce breakage drastically.

Alopecia Areota effects about 2% of the population and is an autoimmune disorder where patches of scalp become completely bald. This can even happen to body hair. There is no treatment that works in all cases but steroid injections or oral medications can help. Other treatment options include Rogaine, Anthralin cream or ointment, wigs, or topical immunotherapy.

The most common cause for hair loss in genetic, most commonly referred to as female pattern hair loss. The medical term is androgenic alopecia and is the result of exposure to certain male sex hormones or androgens (testosterone being one of them). It is the same cause for men with male pattern baldness, which is also hereditary.

Treatments for female pattern hair loss include topical Rogaine, prescription medication, or hair transplant surgery. Some women experiencing female pattern hair loss may be able to cover thinning areas with creative hair styles or clip-ins.

It’s important to seek the advice of a hair restoration specialist if you are experiencing excess hair loss to determine the best course of action. Dr. Scott Thompson offers complimentary consultations in both Layton and Draper, Utah by calling (801)776-2220.

A Closer Look at The Common Causes of Hair Loss in Women

Hereditary Factors

Genetics plays a significant role in determining whether individuals may experience hair loss at some point in their lives. Women with relatives who’ve had hair loss are more likely to develop it themselves, especially if other environmental factors converge.

Androgenetic alopecia or FPHL results from interactions between hormones and genetics. Inherited sensitivity to male hormones (androgens) like DHT leads to miniaturization of scalp hair follicles over time – think of it as watering flowers less so slowly they no longer bloom.

Notably, FPHL does not always manifest with typical bald spots seen in men. Instead, it leads to diffuse hair thinning with hair appearing sparser on the crown and temples. For instance, Reena’s mother has visible thinning on the crown of her head, and as she approached menopause, started noticing the same.

In addition to genetics, factors like stress, certain medications – antidepressants, birth control pills containing high androgen index hormones – and underlying medical conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) can all contribute to female pattern hair loss.

Hormonal Imbalances

Hormones play a critical role in maintaining healthy hair growth cycles, with any imbalances significantly impacting the normal hair growth phases. Female hormones like estrogen and progesterone help keep the hair follicles in their growth phase (anagen), while male hormones like androgens can cause miniaturization of hair follicles, leading to baldness. Therefore, hormonal imbalances can lead to hair loss, thinning, or even balding.

Common hormonal imbalances that cause hair loss include polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), thyroid disorders, menopause, and pregnancy. PCOS is an endocrine disorder that results in overproduction of male hormones (androgens) that can interfere with normal hair growth cycles. Thyroid disorders impact the body’s metabolism rate, but they also significantly affect hair growth rates due to hormonal imbalances. Women going through menopause may experience fluctuations in hormone levels resulting in changes to their hair volume and texture. Pregnancy, while achieving fuller luscious locks during pregnancy for some women, it leads to significant shedding after childbirth as the body regulates its hormonal balances.

If you are experiencing unusual hair loss or suspect a pattern of hormonal imbalance affecting your health, it’s crucial to consult your doctor for medical advice.

Lifestyle and Hair Loss

Lifestyle plays a significant role not only in overall health but also in maintaining optimal hair health and preventing hair loss. While genetics plays the most crucial role in determining your risk of developing pattern baldness or female pattern hair loss (FPHL), environmental factors can significantly contribute to unhealthy hair.

Some lifestyles habits that contribute to hair loss include smoking cigarettes, uncontrolled stress levels, poor nutrition – including crash dieting with severe nutrient deficiencies -, and excessive use of harsh chemical treatments on the scalp or styled hairstyles that place too much tension on the scalp.

While it can be challenging to control all environmental factors impacting your hair health, making small changes like quitting smoking, managing stress levels through meditation and yoga, and opting for more natural hair coloring products can help prevent further hair loss.

Remember: seeking professional medical advice is essential before starting any aggressive dietary or lifestyle changes.

For instance, healthy scalp massages can enhance blood circulation and promote hair growth. On the other hand, high-stress levels disrupt hormonal balances and reduce nutrient absorption in the body; this can lead to hair loss in severe cases. Poor nutrition from crash diets might also limit nutrients essential for healthy hair growth, leading to increased shedding. Moreover, excessive use of heated styling tools or chemical treatments like relaxing or straightening agents can damage hair follicles.

It’s important to understand that while lifestyle habits may not cause baldness per se, they may accelerate the progression of those already at risk. Additionally, many causes of hair loss are multifactorial; thus, addressing one trigger factor alone may not be effective without dealing with others.

To summarize, hormonal imbalances and several lifestyle factors can contribute significantly to female hair loss. While some causes may be beyond our control due to genetics, it’s essential to manage these environmental factors that impact our hair. By doing so, we not only lower the risk of developing noticeable hair loss patterns but also keep our scalps healthy.

Nutritional Impacts

Our overall health and well-being are significantly affected by our dietary choices. Nutrient deficiencies and insufficient intake of certain vitamins and minerals have been linked to hair loss in women. Iron, biotin, vitamin D, zinc, and protein are crucial components for healthy hair growth.

For instance, low iron levels result in decreased red blood cell formation, leading to insufficient oxygen supply to hair follicles. Biotin aids keratin production, which is a primary component of hair strands. Meanwhile, vitamin D helps with calcium absorption necessary for hair follicle development. Zinc plays a vital role in DNA synthesis and regulates hormone levels that affect hair growth.

Caloric restriction or extreme diet plans may also cause hair loss due to malnutrition or deficiency. Restricting calories leads to a lack of essential fats necessary for the body’s growth processes and hormone production, leading to reduced hair strength and luster.

To avoid these effects on hair health, ensure a balanced diet filled with nutrient-dense foods like fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats.

Effect of Medication

Some medications may lead to temporary or permanent hair loss as a side effect. The reasons often vary from medication-induced hormonal imbalances to the toxicity from prolonged exposure.

A commonly prescribed drug that causes noticeable hair loss is chemotherapy drugs. These drugs target fast-growing cancer cells but also interfere with other fast-growing cells in the body such as cells responsible for growing beautiful locks.

Contraceptive pills are another common medication that can lead to temporary hair thinning induced by their associated hormonal changes upon ingestion depending on the individual’s tolerance level.

The impact from medication-induced hair loss varies according to the patient’s sensitivity level; it could be likened to how we all react differently to different temperature levels in a room.

Other prescription medications that can contribute include blood pressure and cholesterol-lowering drugs, antidepressants, and acne medications.

It is essential to review the potential side effects of any medication prescribed and discuss concerns with your healthcare provider before taking them. In many cases, once the offending drug has been stopped, normal hair growth resumes.

Medical Conditions Affecting Hair Health

Hair loss can be a manifestation of underlying medical conditions that affect hair health. Medical conditions such as cancer, thyroid disease, and anemia can cause hair loss. Autoimmune diseases like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and alopecia areata can also cause hair loss by attacking the hair follicles. Hormonal imbalances, particularly in women, can lead to changes in hair growth patterns. Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), which causes ovaries to produce excessive amounts of male hormones, can cause female pattern baldness. Scalp infections or diseases affecting the scalp’s health can also cause hair loss.

  • Hair loss can be a symptom of various underlying medical conditions, including cancer, thyroid disease, anemia, autoimmune diseases, hormonal imbalances, and scalp infections. It is important to identify and address these underlying conditions in order to effectively treat and manage hair loss.

Autoimmune Diseases and Hair Loss

Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system attacks healthy cells in the body, including hair follicles. These diseases can cause various types of hair loss, including alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is a condition where the immune system attacks hair follicles resulting in patchy hair loss on the scalp or other areas of the body. Another autoimmune disease that affects hair health is lupus. Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes inflammation throughout the body and can result in widespread hair loss.

One woman shared her experience with lupus-related hair loss: “As if getting diagnosed with lupus at 23 wasn’t enough, once my symptoms started kicking in fully – I began losing clumps of my long, thick dark locks daily until eventually cutting it all off into a short bob in hopes it would stop falling out so quickly.”

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is another autoimmune disease that affects the lining of joints but could also lead to hair loss due to medication side effects and stress from living with RA.

If you suspect you’re experiencing autoimmune-related hair loss, consult with your dermatologist for a definitive diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.

Think of autoimmune diseases as an overactive immune system that mistakenly attacks the body’s healthy cells, including hair follicles. It’s like friendly fire in a battlefield – where soldiers from the same team end up harming their allies instead of enemies.

Related Resources


If you are someone who is experiencing hair thinning or loss, UFP Hair Restoration offers non-surgical and surgical options for hair restoration.
Contact us to schedule a hair restoration consultation or call 801-776-2220.

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