Male pattern baldness is not uncommon and can leave men feeling unattractive. But when women experience hair loss, the emotional impact can be devastating.
Hair is our crown and glory. It exudes attractiveness and is also attributed to health. A healthy, shining mane can also identify youth and beauty. However, just as skin changes during the passage of time, so does hair. The luster, color, texture, and diameter will transition and progressively deplete. Consequently, women will flock to salons and beauty product retailers for the quick cure. But when there seems no cure for the women whose hair continues to fall out, where can she turn for answers? Understanding what causes hair loss is the first step to finding a solution.
How Hair Grows
Everyone is born with hair follicles in place. These follicles produce hair. Healthy hair grows on the average of about 1/2 inch per month. The hair cycle, divided in three stages – anagen, catagen and telogen – affect the follicles.
In the first stage, also referred to as the growing phase (anagen), the follicle produces healthy hair. Hair can remain growing up to 6 years – depending on hair type, heredity, nutrition, gender, and age.
The second stage of the hair cycle is called the transition stage (catagen). During this stage the follicle stops growing hair and starts to deplete and is destroyed. This phase will last one to two weeks.
The third stage is the “resting” stage (telogen) and lasts about two to six months, depending on the factors mentioned above. When this phase ends the anagen stage starts again; a new hair shaft begins to form and grow alongside the old hair – forcing it to fall out. Fortunately, telogen only occurs on 10% to 15% of the human scalp at any one time. This explains daily hair shedding of about 100 strands a day while the entire head continues to have a full head of hair.
Hair Loss Defined
Hair loss occurs when the scalp starts to become visible, looks patchy, or the diameter of the hair looks thinner. Patchy bald spots are called alopecia. A good way to check to for hair loss is to observe the number the strands left in your sink after grooming your tresses. If the strands have increased significantly, or show more than about 100 strands with the hair bulb intact, there may be cause for alarm. Also, part the hair in several areas of the scalp to check for wider parts. The earlier this is detected the better the chances for corrective treatment.
Causes of Hair loss
There are many factors that affect hair loss in women. Trichologists believe that 1/3 of woman experience balding due to a heredity condition called androgenetic alopecia.
Androgenetic Alopecia is usually referred to as male/female pattern baldness. In men total balding from the front to the crown area may occur; in women the hairline usually stays intact and balding occurs on the side or crown area of the head. At any rate, the effects may be frustrating.
The excessive use of certain hair products such as permanent hair dyes, perms, as well as other types of hair products has been found to also cause damage to the hair. These products will gradually cause damage to the delicate hair follicles, leading to thinning hair. The timing is also important. If the hair was recently permed, do not use hair color immediately.
By the same token, certain hairstyles such as ponytails, cornrows, and pig tails can also cause hair breakage and even scar the scalp, especially when done on a daily basis. Other factors that cause hair loss in women are as follows :
- Scarring of the Follicles. Inflammation can damage and scar the follicles. This condition is medically referred to as cicatricial alopecia. When the follicles become damaged it cannot produce hair and hair loss is permanent. Patrons with lupus often have signs of follicle inflammation – albeit trichologists continue to research what causes the inflammation.
- Alopecia Areata. This condition causes a sudden loss of hair in patches on healthy individuals. Stress is the only culprit proven to cause alopecia areata. This condition is temporary and hair usually grows back in a few months.
- Trichotillomania (hair-pulling). Individuals with this disorder habitually or compulsively pull out their hair. The cause is attributed to psychological factors but the reason is unknown.
- Hormonal Changes. When hormonal levels in the body change, temporary hair loss may occur. For instance, after giving birth, most women will notice a significant amount of hair falling out. Aging women also experience a shift in their hormones and experience hair loss. Partnering with their doctors can help them incorporate the right supplements in their diets to treat the problem.
Treatments for Hair loss
There are many reasons why women lose their hair; hence there are many options for treating hair loss. The cosmetologist can suggest cosmetic options, such as wigs, weaves, and extensions. There are also products that fill in the balding area with keratin fibers– a hairlike substance that also acts as treatment for the hair area.
Topical treatments such as Minoxidil may be prescribed by physicians. More than half percent of women reported satisfactory results after using this treatment.
Finally, surgical options are available when all else fails. Hair transplants, hair plugs, and even scalp reduction surgeries are among them – ranging from $5000 to $20000.
Hair loss in women can be disappointing and frustrating. For this reason individuals will go to great lengths to reverse this condition. Fortunately, there are many opportunities available for beautifying the tresses again. Many women who experience hair loss are finding great solutions that work for them – and that can be very comforting to know.