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Why Does Female Hair Loss Occur?

Aug 17, 2007
Female hair loss usually presents in two types - temporary and permanent. Temporary hair loss in women is also known as telogen, transient or non-genetic, while permanent hair loss is the same as genetic hair loss or androgenetic alopecia. To better understand alopecia in women, it is necessary to first know about the hair growth cycle.

Men and women lose an average of 40 to 100 strands of hair daily. The growth stage can range from two to six months with the hair growing at an average of one-half inch per month. The hair transition phase takes place after the growth stage and happens for about one to two weeks after which the resting phase occurs when the hair is then shed at a rate of 40 to 100 strands on any given day. Hair growth cycle is a significant part of the process that can lead to female hair loss.

The failure to grow new hair is attributed to genetic predisposition, aging, hormonal imbalance and the levels of endocrine hormones, particularly androgens. During the time that hormonal changes caused by menopause are occurring, the levels of androgens rise and many women find that their hair has thinned. Family history is also an indicator of whether or not a woman will suffer some degree of genetic alopecia. If the mother or aunt has thinning hair, daughters may expect to undergo the same experience when they reach the same age as their mother or aunt when the hair loss occurred.

When women suffer from hair loss, their hair follicle is normal but the growth cycle is abnormal. There are also disorders where the hair follicle is damaged. Androgenetic alopecia is the most common cause of hair loss in women. This is caused by various hormonal imbalances triggered by conditions such as pregnancy and menopause. Another type of hair loss is alopecia areata, which may affect both men and women. This is also known as patch baldness and at its worse can cause all the hair in the head to fall. Telogen effluvium, cicatricial alopecia and traumatic alopecia are the other forms of baldness in women caused by factors such as stress and hair styling practices.

For all types of hair loss in women, the diagnosis is based on a thorough family background check and a targeted medical screening. Some laboratory tests may also be performed such as a punch biopsy. Androgenetic alopecia is usually treated with minoxidil, while corticosteriods and other agents are used to treat alopecia areata. Telogen effluvium usually does not require treatment as the condition goes away when the underlying cause is treated.

Female hair loss can be very depressing. A woman's hair is considered her crowning glory and losing it will likely take its toll, not just on her appearance, but also on her frame of mind. Management of this condition should include a psychological assessment and emotional support should be provided by the people who have a close relationship with the individual involved.
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