Men might see their hair loss as a badge of honor, cracking wise about their steadily-growing foreheads and bald spots, but hair loss in women can be a downright unpleasant experience. If you are suffering from hair loss or fear that you are at risk for it, you’re not alone: more women than you might realize experience such problems in their lifetimes. Fortunately, it’s possible to fight both the underlying causes and the immediate symptoms of female hair loss.
Think of telogen effluvium as a cry for help from your body. This type of hair loss typically occurs after a stressful life event, like pregnancy, major surgery, or a death in the family. It has also been linked to certain types of medication. Telogen effluvium is usually temporary, running its course once the stress in your life has dissipated, although you may have to ask your doctor about changing your prescription if you suspect medication is the cause. If general stress and not a specific stressful event is the culprit, consider lifestyle changes that might chill you out.
Millions of women have under-active thyroid glands. The resulting hormone imbalance can cause all sorts of problems, from weight gain and depression to unexplained hair loss. The issue here is that low levels of thyroid hormone can stunt the growth of keratin-rich cells, which include nail and hair follicles, making them brittle and subject to breakage or loss. A course of routine hormone therapy should get your body back on track and stem your hair loss.
Affecting middle-aged women almost exclusively, lupus is a frustrating disease. It’s an autoimmune illness, which means that it’s caused by your body’s immune system incorrectly recognizing your own cells as invaders and trying to fight them off. The disease’s signature symptoms are intense joint pain, fatigue, and hair loss. You won’t lose all of your hair at once, but you will notice it coming out in patches in the shower or pool. Lupus-related hair loss can be treated with oral steroids like prednisone, while the associated scalp rash can be fixed with a simple prescription cream.
Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
Known as PCOS, this is a complex illness that often begins with the onset of puberty and can seriously affect adult reproductive health, ultimately rendering its sufferers infertile if left untreated. Milder symptoms include unusually thick facial hair growth and a related loss of scalp hair. Since the over-production of testosterone is the underlying cause of PCOS, birth-control pills that block its uptake can typically neutralize these associated effects.
According to WebMD, a typical woman loses 50 to 100 strands of hair per day, with perhaps 250 coming out in the course of a vigorous hair-washing. If you think you are losing more than this relatively small amount, look for standard clues like excessive hair on your pillow, clumps in the shower drain, and a tangled mess of a hair brush. Once you have confirmed that your hair is thinning, don’t panic: most of the underlying causes of female hair loss are treated easily.