Women’s Hair Loss
Hair loss in women is quite common. It is often the result of genetics but other causes include autoimmune diseases, hair and scalp trauma, some medications, pregnancy, and stress, among other factors. Many hair loss treatments have been developed, manufactured, produced and marketed to address thinning hair in women. One treatment and one phototherapy device are licensed and approved by government medical authorities in the United Kingdom and the Unites States for the treatment of female hair loss.
Types and Causes
Female pattern hair loss affects up to 40% of women and often causes diffuse thinning across the whole top of the head. It is triggered by the sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is created from testosterone by the enzyme 5-alpha reductase. In those with a genetic predisposition to hair loss, DHT initiates a process of follicular miniaturisation. As the hair follicle deteriorates, the hair growth phase (anagen) is shortened, and the hair shaft is prevented from growing and maturing into the deeply rooted and pigmented hair. Typically the frontal hairline is preserved but the density of hair is decreased on all areas of the scalp.
Diffuse hair loss, like telogen effluvium, causes an increased rate of hair fall and subsequent thinning from all over the scalp. The triggers can vary from inadequate nutrition, to stress, and thyroid, haemoglobin and hormonal problems.
Telogen effluvium is a reactive condition that causes an increase in hair shedding and an appearance of overall thinning as a result of sudden or severe emotional or physiological stress. Drugs, eating disorders, anaemia, thyroid disorders, shock, chronic illness, major surgery, mental illness, and childbirth are all possible triggers of telogen effluvium. Chronic telogen effluvium is a similar albeit prolonged form of the condition.
Traction alopecia appears as a receding hairline or bald patches on the scalp and is a side effect of excessive hair tension rather than a cause of hair loss. When the hair shaft is pulled tight for a long period of time, it can damage the follicle to the point where the growth cycle slows and eventually stops. The result is smooth bald patches at the site of tension. Traction alopecia can result from wearing tight braids or ponytails and hair extensions.
Alopecia areata is thought by many to be an autoimmune disorder that causes bald spots on the scalp. It affects around 2-3% of the population and is triggered by white blood cells that cluster around select hair follicles and cause inflammation. The hair tends to fall out over a short period of time, with the loss commonly occurring more on one side of the scalp than the other. Factors that can influence alopecia areata include genetics, long-term chronic stress, allergies, infections, chemicals, and physical trauma.
Normal hair fall is approximately 100-125 hairs per day. These hairs are replaced during the growth cycle. True hair loss occurs when lost hairs are not regrown or when the daily hair shed exceeds 125 hairs.
In almost all cases of hair loss, it is recommended to seek medical advice to determine whether genetics or a health-related issue is the cause of the condition.
Of all the hair loss products in the market, only one treatment and one phototherapy device are licensed and approved by government medical authorities in the United Kingdom and the Unites States for the treatment of female hair loss. They are Minoxidil and the HairMax LaserComb.
Many of the other products intended to address female hair loss contain ingredients that may support healthy hair growth, but these treatments themselves are not proven to singularly stop thinning or stimulate hair growth. These include a range of nutritional supplements, shampoos and scalp treatments, laser therapy and other devices.