FEMALE PATTERN HAIR LOSS
Hair loss in women isnt always as straightforward as it is in most men. In men about 90 percent of all cases are caused by hereditary Male Pattern Hair Loss. In women, however, hair loss can be triggered by a multitude of conditions and circumstances. As a result, not only might it take some time for her to pluck up the courage to discuss the issue with her doctor, but it may take even longer for her to get specialised medical advice and accurate diagnosis.
Alopecia is the medical term for excessive or abnormal hair loss but there are different kinds of alopecia. The cause may be as simple as having a gene that makes women susceptible or it may be due to one of the dermatological causes of hair loss such as Alopecia Area-ta. However it may be more complex as there are a whole host of diseases and nutritional reasons why hair starts to fall out or stops growing. Hair loss may also be a symptom of a short-term event such as stress, pregnancy, and the taking of certain medications. In these situations, hair will often (though not always) grow back when the event has passed. Substances, including hormones, medications, and diseases can cause a change in hair growth, shedding phases and in their durations. When this happens, synchronous growth and shedding occur. Once the cause is dealt with, many times hairs will go back to their pattern of growth and shedding, and the hair loss problem stops. Unfortunately, for some women, hair loss becomes a life long struggle.
Here are most common causes of Female hair loss:
The hormonal process of testosterone converting to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women. Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone that men have, but even a lower level can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women. And certainly if the levels of testosterone rise, DHT can be even more of a problem. Those levels can rise and still be within what doctors consider normal on a blood test, even though they are high enough to cause a problem. Furthermore, the levels may not rise at all but still be a problem if the body chemistry is overly sensitive to even its regular levels of chemicals, including hormones.
Since hormones operate in the healthiest manner when they are in a delicate balance, the androgens, as male hormones are called, do not need to be raised to trigger a problem. Their counterpart female hormones, when lowered, give an edge to these androgens, such as DHT. Such an imbalance can also cause problems, including hair loss.
The majority of women with Androgenic Alopecia have diffuse thinning on all areas of the scalp. Androgenic Alopecia in women is due to the action of androgens, male hormones that are typically present in only small amounts. Androgenic alopecia can be caused by a variety of factors related to the actions of hormones, including, ovarian cysts, the taking of high androgen index birth control pills, pregnancy, and menopause. Heredity plays a major factor in the disease.
When the body goes through something traumatic like child birth, malnutrition, a severe infection, major surgery, or extreme stress, many of the 90 percent or so of the hair in the Anagen (growing) phase or Catagen (resting) phase can shift all at once into the Telogen (shedding) phase. About 6 weeks to three month after the stressful event is usually when the phenomenon called Telogen Effluvium can begin. It is possible to lose handful of hair at time when in full-blown Telogen Effluvium. For most who suffer with this condition, complete remission is probable as long as severely stressful events can be avoided. For some women however, Telogen Effluvium is a mysterious chronic disorder and can persist for months or even years without any true understanding of any triggering factors or stressors.
Anagen Effluvium occurs after any insult to the hair follicle that impairs its mitotic or metabolic activity. This hair loss is commonly associated with chemotherapy. Since chemotherapy targets bodys rapidly dividing cancer cells, bodys other rapidly dividing cells such as hair follicles in the Anagen (growing) 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.
The characteristic finding in Anagen Effluvium is the tapered fracture of the hair shafts. The hair shaft narrows as a result of damage to the matrix. Eventually, the shaft fractures at the site of narrowing and causes the loss of hair.
This condition is caused by localized trauma to the hair follicles from tight hairstyles that pull at hair over time. If the condition is detected early enough, the hair will re-grow. Braiding, cornrows, tight ponytails, and extensions are the most common styling causes.
Millions of women are prescribed the pill each year, but very few are aware that oral contraceptives are a common trigger of hair loss for many who use them. The pill suppresses ovulation by the combined actions of the hormones oestrogen and progestin or in some cases progestin alone. Women who are predisposed to hormonal related hair loss or who are hypersensitive to the hormonal changes taking place in their bodies can experience hair loss to varying degrees while on the pill or more commonly, several weeks or months after stopping the pill.
There is often some investigation needed to first isolate the true cause before working on a treatment.
The first person you should turn to is your GP, who will need to take a detailed medical, drug and family history. Most likely you will need some blood tests: full blood count, glucose, serum ferritin (iron stores), thyroid hormones and, where relevant gestational hormone levels. Alternatively you may need to be referred to a dermatologist (skin specialist doctor) or a trichologist (hair & scalp specialist).
The treatment you require then depends on the cause found for the hair loss.