While this might not be that a scary a statement to a normal person, for the woman, sending out the plea for help it would be nothing short of a crisis. Loss of hair affects men and women in slightly different manners – as in, men might not consider it too “big a deal”, for women, it would be quite a torture. For most women, their confidence and persona is tied to their looks and hair plays an important role in the same.
In order to understand, why a woman is losing hair, especially in numbers that is more than normal, it is essential that we look at the underlying cause first. Here are some of the most prominent factors that lead to hair loss in women:
Hormones: While in men, pattern hair loss is caused due to an increased level of DHT or Dihydrotestosterone, in women, an imbalance in oestrogen can lead to hair loss. The hormonal imbalance is often caused due to menopause, pregnancy, childbirth, start or discontinuation of contraceptives.
Medical issues: There are numerous medical conditions that can lead to hair fall in a much greater number than is considered normal. For instance, the improper functioning of the thyroid gland or skin infections such as lupus or lichen planus can cause hair loss. Yet another medical condition that is one of the major causes for hair loss in women is alopecia areata, where the immune system of the body, turns against the hair follicles.
Medicines: Hair loss can also be cause due to drugs that are being used to treat conditions such as cancer, depression, heart related problems and arthritis.
Other causes: Then there are also other causes that are known to cause hair loss and these include extensive use of chemicals and heat related treatments as well as tight hair styles. Trauma is known to cause hair loss and these could include accidents or death of a loved one. Even crash diets have been known to increase hair loss as have high fevers.
And then there is female pattern baldness, which is actually much more common than most people would believe. Female pattern hair loss or FPHL can be caused because of several reasons including age, change in hormone levels and most importantly, genetics.
FPHL can be recognised by thinning on the top part of the scalp, which normally spreads away from the centre parting. Even though the front hair line remains reasonably normal and the receding happens in the same way as with men, there could also be complete balding. A skin biopsy or a look at other medical conditions could allow a doctor to come to a conclusion about FPHL.
The condition can be treated using medicines such as Minoxidil, cimetidine, ketoconazole or spironolactone. But all of these should be taken only after a proper consultation with a doctor. If the hair loss is truly severe, then there would be other options that will have to looked into, such as transplant or picking out a hair piece or wig.
If you are wondering how you can detect that you are having severe hair loss, there are certain symptoms:
In most women, there will be a gradual thinning on the top of the head. The frontal parts are normally the last to be affected, and the hair loss starts with a broadening from the centre parting. For some people, there might be bald patches that arise on various parts of the head. Such hair loss could also become visible on the eyebrows. There are also cases, where the hair starts falling out in clumps, while washing or combing.
There are certain women, who are a greater risk of falling prey to hair loss. For instance, women who undergo regular chemical treatments for their hair or use excessive heat will notice greater hair fall. In addition, tying hair really tightly is also known to lead to hair fall. For women with a history of hair loss in their family, there is always the possibility that they might be next in line. It is also important to note that a poor diet or crash dieting can lead to such situations. Your diet has to be rich in iron, protein and vitamins in order to ensure that you have thick, lustrous hair.
Now, let’s take a look at how such hair loss can be handled:
Medications: Minoxidil shown positive results in several cases. But it has also been proven that the results of the medication last only as long as the medicines are being taken. A lot of new treatment modalities have come up like Low Level Laser Therapy, Platelet Rich Plasma, which can control the ongoing hair loss and grow hair in existing hair loss area to some extent.
Over the counter solutions: There are plenty of hair sprays, which will provide the illusion of thick growth. Similarly, hair volume enhancers can be used in cases where the thinning has only started.
Wigs and hair systems: If you are worried about needles and surgical procedures, then there is always the option of having wigs created for yourself. You could also choose to invest a hair system, such as extensions or weaves, which will look quite natural.
Surgical options: Finally, the most permanent treatment for hair loss, especially when the loss is severe, would be a transplant process. You could choose between follicular unit extraction (FUE) or follicular unit transplantation (FUT), a decision that a good doctor would assist you in taking.
The future for women who have lost hair is actually looking quite bright these days. Studies are being conducted into Bimatoprost, a synthetic prostaglandin and hair cloning, and the results may come out as rewarding in future.