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Causes of Hair Loss in Women
Losing your hair can be a traumatic experience for anyone. But for women, hair loss can have a particularly negative affect on your sense of self and emotional well-being.
A full head of hair is often associated with beauty and a positive self-image, so there’s a psychological toll that can come from hair loss. To make matters worse, female hair loss is rarely discussed in the media or the medical community, making it harder for women to talk openly about their condition and how to address it.
Despite what you might think, hair loss in women is actually quite common. In fact, nearly 40% of people with at least some visible hair loss by age 40 are women. While there are close to 30 different conditions that can cause hair loss in women, just a few are responsible for the majority of cases. Fortunately, most can be resolved with proper treatment.
Female Pattern Hair Loss (Androgenetic Alopecia)
By far the most common type of hair loss in women is female pattern hair loss. Known as androgenetic alopecia (the same term used to describe male pattern hair loss), this hereditary condition can be passed down from either or both sides of your family.
Women’s hairlines rarely recede like men’s. Instead, it usually begins with hair loss radiating from the top of your head. This diffuse thinning slowly spreads across your scalp.
Prompt treatment is recommended when you experience noticeable thinning. For the best treatment results, don’t wait for it to get worse. A Bosley specialist can help you
Traction Hair Loss (Traction Alopecia)
Hairstyles that pull your hair tight, such as braids and cornrows, can cause stress to the scalp and eventual hair loss. Known as traction alopecia, this type of hair loss happens slowly over time. It can be caused by a number of other factors such as wearing wigs, hairbands, braids or excessively tight headgear. It can sometimes even be caused by pulling your hair with your hands, an emotional condition known as trichotillomania.
Other Causes of Hair Loss in Women
Less commonly, other lifestyle factors or medical conditions can lead to hair thinning or hair loss in women. These include:
- Scars from burns or major surgery
- Crash dieting or poor nutrition
- Birth control pills
- Extreme stress
- Iron deficiency
- Hormonal imbalances like pregnancy and menopause
- Endocrine conditions that affect thyroid function
- Systemic diseases like lupus
If you’re unsure of the cause of your hair loss or if it can be treated, it’s always best to first visit your healthcare provider so he or she can confirm or rule out any possible medical causes of your hair loss.
Hair Loss Classification: The Ludwig Scale
Female pattern hair loss is traditionally classified using the Ludwig Scale, which divides the stages of genetic hair loss into three types.
- Type 1 is the earliest stage of female hair loss, with hair loss beginning on the front and top of the scalp. While you may not even notice your hair loss at this level, parting your hair down the center of your scalp will usually make your hair loss more visible. Treatment options may include low level laser treatment, minoxidil or platelet rich plasma, in addition to hair restoration procedures.
- Type 2 hair loss is more significant, with areas of the scalp showing through thinning hair. By this time, you might notice thinning, shedding and decreased hair volume. Women with moderate hair loss are usually good candidates for a hair transplant procedure.
- Type 3 is the most severe level of hair loss. You may have complete hair loss on the crown of your head. Extensive hair loss represents a significant challenge in creating enough grafts to treat the affected area. Often, however, significant improvement of your appearance can be achieved with proper treatment.
Whatever your stage of hair loss, don’t give up! A Bosley counselor can help assess your condition and identify the solutions that are available to you. Schedule a complimentary, no-obligation, private consultation at any of our 70 Bosley offices throughout the U.S.