Why Is My Hair Falling Out? 5 Triggers of Women Hair Loss
August 20, 2019Are you a female dealing with hair loss? You may have had trouble learning where it started – the causes for hair loss can be elusive and difficult to tackle, but your hair loss treatment for women depends on correctly figuring them out. So, let's learn without more delay about the 5 most common triggers of hair loss in women.
1. HeredityThis is the first and most common cause of hair loss in women. At least 50% of women will experience some degree of hereditary hair loss at some point in their lives (it can start as early as age 12 but it usually has its onset around the age of 40). The reason why hair loss in women usually becomes more noticeable around the age of 40 is menopause, which involves a decrease in the levels of female hormones, resulting in higher levels of circulating androgens and as you may know, it is a hereditary oversensitivity to androgens that causes pattern hair loss.
Female pattern hair loss consists of hair thinning that starts at the crown. One of the first signs is a wider parting and diffuse hair loss all over the scalp. The frontal hairline is usually untouched in female alopecia, contrary to male pattern baldness, where the frontal hairline is the first area to thin out.
Research has established that the mechanism of female pattern hair loss is different from that of male pattern baldness: it's aromatase (an estrone and estradiol-related enzyme) that has a relevant role in the type of pattern since it's concentrated in the frontal hairline, which avoids hair fall in that area. However, the process of miniaturization (the hair follicle shrinking until it no longer produces hair) happens in both female and male pattern hair loss.
2. Telogen effluviumHair loss can be temporary. This is the case of telogen effluvium, a disorder where many follicles go into telogen (shedding) phase at once, causing acute hair loss. The telogen phase is when the hair disconnects from the dermal papilla and stops being nourished because it is ready to be released. This phase is the shortest one of the hair growth cycle, lasting from three to five months, but it can lengthen when a trigger has an influence.
The causes of telogen effluvium are never genetic but external, so this condition is bound to eventually subside, even though it can take form several weeks to several months for the hair growth cycles to resume normally and hair to look full again. The most common causes of telogen effluvium are chronic illness, extreme physical or emotional stress, extreme weight loss or gain, malnutrition, some types of medication like antidepressants, and temporary hormonal imbalances like the one that happens after childbirth.
Speaking of telogen effluvium after childbirth is important because many women go through it. It happens because estrogen levels during pregnancy are high, which helps hair stay in anagen (growth) phase for longer. This is the same reason that makes hair thicker, fuller, and overall more beautiful during pregnancy. However, when estrogen levels dip after giving birth, the telogen hairs that were ready to shed but were "frozen" in anagen start falling out at once, making the hair loss look excessive.
Another common cause for telogen effluvium that we must mention is stress. There is a delicate interplay among between different hormones, and it can be disrupted with high levels of stress. First, the body releases too much adrenaline, which converts into cholesterol and, in turn, raises testosterone levels. This increase in androgens can trigger hair loss in individuals who are already sensitive to high androgenic levels (people who are predisposed to pattern alopecia).
Telogen effluvium can manifest as rapid hair loss all over the scalp, thin growth only on the top of the head or a shortened hair cycles which produces very short and thin hairs. The important thing about telogen effluvium is that it won't stay forever, but it can be difficult to pinpoint its origin to tackle it. It's necessary to evaluate all possible factors carefully and then avoid exposure to the triggers.
3. Hormonal imbalancesHormones control a wide range of body processes, including hair growth. Even hormones that seem to be unrelated to hair loss can throw the hair growth cycle out of balance. Several hormonal disorders (namely thyroid imbalances, estrogen imbalances, and PCOS) can have an adverse effect on hair growth cycles.
Thyroid hormones T3 and T4 have a direct influence on hair follicles, so they can come to affect the hair growth cycles and even hair pigmentation. Thyroid-related hair loss usually happens after the issue hasn't been addressed in a long time and should subside once hormone therapy is undertaken.
Estrogen hair loss can ensue after periods where estrogen levels plunge, like after childbirth, before, and during menopause. When menopause sets in, less estrogen means that the circulating androgens (testosterone) have a bigger influence in the hormonal balance, causing either temporary hair loss in sensitive individuals (females with androgenetic alopecia) or unwanted growth in places like the face and chest.
PCOS is a condition where multiple cysts in the ovaries disrupt the production of hormones and, in general, its functions. It is most common to find that PCOS causes hirsutism (excessive hair growth in unusual places for women), but it can also cause hair thinning on the scalp. Treatment for the condition is also bound to relieve hair loss and growth problems.
You can delve deeper on this subject in our blog post "Hormonal Hair Loss: Everything You Need to Know."
4. Mechanical damageTraction alopecia is the type of hair loss that results from rough handling of the hair, and it's a common cause of hair loss in women. It can happen with several styles and accessories that put lots of strain on the hair roots:
- Braids (including cornrows and other ethnic styles)
- Tight ponytails (especially if worn in the same way every day and for long hours)
- High buns (like ballerina buns where the hair is pulled back tightly)
- Wearing wigs and extensions frequently (their clips can snag and pull at the hair roots)
- Some headwear with pieces that can snag hair (like helmets)
- Some accessories, especially those with metal parts or tight fittings (when worn the same way every day)
- Very long hair can be heavy and pull on the hair roots
- Inadequate brushing and detangling techniques can also be to blame.
Traction alopecia does not have to lead to permanent hair loss in women, only if the rough handling is stopped. Otherwise, the hair follicle will likely be permanently damaged to the point that hair cannot regrow.
5. Chemical damageChemical treatments can cause damage on the scalp and hamper the hair's ability to grow normally or affect the hair shaft and generate extreme breakage. Frequent dyeing, bleaching, relaxing or perming are the most common chemical processes that lead to hair loss or breakage. To avoid this, never combine chemical treatments; wait at least a couple of weeks and longer if possible to have another chemical treatment done. The best measure to keep healthy hair is to avoid chemical processing.
Hope you were able to identify the trigger for your hair loss among these 5 options. Whichever the cause is, recovery from hair loss calls for special treatment. Call The Cosmetic Republic USA at TOLL FREE 1-888-513-8815 to learn about the best solutions for hair loss in women. You can also fill out the contact form below to reach us. Subscribe to our newsletter to get our latest news right in your inbox.
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