Tuesday, August 16th
How Hair Loss Affects Women
Forty percent of all adults suffering from hair loss are women.
Once thought to be an affliction suffered only by men, hair loss can be both devastating and frustrating for women who experience it.
While a bald man walking down the street may not get so much as a second glance, the same cannot be said for a woman suffering from hair loss. And until recently, many women suffering from hair loss were not offered real solutions to the problem, but rather were told by doctors to just accept it and move on.
What causes women to lose their hair in the first place?
There are several kinds of hair loss which can be suffered by women. They include:
- Androgenetic Alopecia: This is the most common type of hair loss, often referred to as "male pattern baldness." While it mainly affects men, women also can suffer from this kind of hair loss. It is caused by a combination of genetics and hormones.
- Telogen Effluvium: This type of hair loss is characterized by hair shedding in several areas that does not follow a specific pattern. It also tends to start suddenly and without any prior warning. This kind of hair loss often is the result of a metabolic dysfunction, hormonal stress or from using certain medications.
- Anagen Effluvium: This kind of hair loss is very similar to telogen effluvium, except that it generally results in the loss of all hair, not just patches here or there. Anagen effluvium is most commonly suffered by those who are receiving relief for various forms of cancer, including chemotherapy and certain kinds of drug cocktails designed to kill cancer cells.
- Alopecia Areata: It is believed that alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which a person's own immune system attacks hair follicles, causing existing hair to fall out and no new hair to grow.
- Scarring Alopecia: A person suffering from this kind of hair loss has his own hair follicles destroyed and replaced by scar tissue, which prevents the growth of new hair.
- Congenital Hypotrichosis: This type of hair loss generally affects a person at birth and usually stays with them for the length of their lives. The majority of cases of this kind of hair loss are caused by genetic defects.
- Infection: Sometimes hair loss can be caused by an infection, such as ringworm. It also can be caused by various fungi and viruses, which often are easily handled. Once the infectious source is identified and addressed, hair regrows.
- Defective Hair Shafts: A final cause of hair loss can be a defect with a person's hair shaft. This damage can be caused by genetics, something in the environment, or inappropriate hair care. For women, overuse of certain hair products - including hair dyes - can do lasting and irreversible damage to your hair. This kind of hair loss can't always be reversed.
- Oral Contraceptives: Women who use "the pill" can often find themselves losing hair. If a woman is predisposed to hormonal hair loss, using - or more commonly stopping - oral contraceptives can result in hair loss. Using lower-dose (low androgen) contraceptives can help prevent hair loss.
Women who suffer from hair loss now have a number of options. The first thing to do is to consult a doctor or specifically a dermatologist, who will be able to properly diagnose the kind of hair loss you are experiencing. Once the type is determined, the best products for that kind can be discussed.