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Female Hair Loss
Female Hair Loss: Your Questions Answered
If you or a loved one is experiencing hair loss, you'll know that it can be a distressing experience. There are lots of reasons for hair loss, and it's more common than you might think. Leading trichologist Anabel Kingsley from London's Philip Kingsley Clinic states that 1 in 3 women will experience some form of hair loss in their lifetime.
If this is affecting you, it's important that you see a medical professional who can recommend a treatment that could help you manage the symptoms. Not all underlying conditions have a cure, but there are often treatments that can mitigate the effects.
You're likely to have many questions about women's hair loss, so we're here to address those for you.
What causes hair loss in women?
There are many reasons why women may notice hair loss that is beyond what they are used to. It's important to note that a certain amount of hair loss is normal, with the average person shedding between 50-100 single hairs each day. Usually, these are replenished.
If you're losing more hair than usual, it's worth consulting a GP to pinpoint your root cause and explore avenues of treatment.
There are several types of alopecia that can occur in women. The most common is androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness). In women, the hair often starts to recede at the parting and becomes thinner across the whole head.
It can be caused by genetics or by an excess of the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone, a hormone derived from testosterone).
Another form of alopecia that may present itself in women is alopecia areata. This variety is an autoimmune condition. The first sign is usually when round or oval patches of hair start to fall out on the scalp, or when hair falls out of other parts of the body, such as the eyebrows.
Hormones play a major role in helping women maintain hair growth. Oestrogens (hormones that are typically higher in females) help to keep hairs in their growth stage for an optimal length of time. Androgens (hormones which are higher in males), if found in excess, can shorten the cycle of hair growth.
Women with PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) may experience hair loss due to an excess of androgens produced. It is also possible for the hormonal changes induced by pregnancy or menopause to cause hair loss in women.
Hair can be more breakable during, or shortly after, pregnancy. It is suspected that the hormone progesterone may contribute to this. It's also possible that an iron deficiency (common during pregnancy) could cause hair loss. Thirdly, if you came off the contraceptive pill shortly before pregnancy, your body may be reacting to sudden hormonal changes resulting from no longer having artificially high oestrogen levels.
Sometimes menopause also causes hair to thin. The body produces less oestrogen, while for some, DHT (an androgen) may also be increasing.
The thyroid gland contributes to the stability of your hair growth cycle. A thyroid issue such as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid) or hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) can affect the hair.
If there is an excess of thyroid hormone, it's possible for hair to become fine and to thin all over the scalp. If there isn't enough thyroid hormone, hair loss may occur across the scalp and the rest of the body.
Deficiencies in certain nutrients can affect hair growth. The main deficiencies to look out for that can cause hair loss are iron, vitamins A, B, D & E, zinc, amino acids and omega acids (omega-3 fatty acids in particular).
Weight loss can sometimes cause hair loss, but this is usually temporary. It's still a good idea to be aware of the causes behind it and see a doctor if your hair loss becomes a cause for concern.
If you've lost a lot of weight in a short space of time, the reason you might find you lose more hair than usual is because sudden weight loss can disrupt the hair's normal growth cycle. The body responds to sudden weight loss by directing more energy toward your vital organs. This means that more hairs than usual are pushed into the resting ('telogen') phase. So, hair continues to fall out as usual, but isn't replenished at an equal rate.
If you're on a restrictive diet, another factor could be that you aren't getting the nutrients you need. It could be helpful to re-assess your diet and make sure you still find ways to incorporate foods with the nutrients that contribute to hair growth.
If you lost weight suddenly without trying to or if you think that you might have an eating disorder, it's a very good idea to see a doctor about it as soon as possible.
It is also possible for high stress levels to cause women's hair loss. This is typically brought about by a specific event, such as a bereavement, divorce, or break-up.
It's common to only notice hair loss about three months after the triggering event. Hair follicles prematurely enter the telogen (resting) phase at the time you first feel stressed and then take three months to complete the cycle that ends with hair being shed.
The type of hair loss caused by stress is known as 'telogen effluvium'. This doesn't cause complete hair loss. Hair typically thins out evenly across the head. It is usually temporary but in rare cases, it may last for more than six months.
If you're going through chemotherapy, you may find that hair falls out following treatment. It's normal for this to begin two to four weeks after the treatment has begun. This could take the form of thinning or total hair loss on your scalp, and other parts of the body may also shed hair.
This is normally only temporary. Three to six months after treatment ends, you're likely to see hair regrowing. Speak to your doctor if you would like to discuss treatments to lower the chance of losing hair or ways to speed up hair regrowth after chemotherapy.
Is it possible to stop or prevent hair loss in women?
The answer to this question depends on the root cause of the hair loss. For example, if the cause has a genetic component, as may be the case with androgenetic alopecia (female pattern baldness), there's no cure for this. There are various treatments you may be able to try to mitigate it, however.
Depending on your situation, it may be possible to reduce the extent of your hair loss by increasing your intake of certain nutrients and by trying a course of treatment recommended by your doctor.
Can women's hair loss be reversed?
Many causes of women's hair loss are temporary. With the right medical support, you're likely to be able to regrow hair that you have lost due to hormonal issues, weight loss, and chemotherapy.
If hair loss is affecting your mental wellbeing, don't forget to seek support for your mental health too. Talking to people you trust and attending a support group or therapy sessions are all options you could consider.
Can creatine cause hair loss in women?
The jury is still out regarding the question of whether creatine supplementation can lead to female hair loss. This idea spread following a study in 2009 that found creatine supplements increased levels of the hormone DHT in men (an excess of which can cause hair loss). More research needs to be done to see if this is applicable to women and if it leads to any increased l
Do DHT blockers work for women's hair loss?
If your hair loss has a hormonal cause, you might be wondering whether a DHT blocker can help restore your hair.
The DHT-blocking medication spironolactone is sometimes taken by women experiencing hair loss due to excessive androgen levels. It can help reduce hair shedding and is sometimes combined with minoxidil, a treatment that encourages hair growth.
If you are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure you consult your doctor before taking spironolactone.
Does Finasteride work for women's hair loss?
Although finasteride (also known as propecia) is sometimes used to treat male pattern baldness, it isn't encouraged as a treatment for women's hair loss due to various potential risks, such as its effects on unborn babies.
Research also suggests that the dosage of finasteride typically given to men is unlikely to be effective when taken by menopausal women. A higher dosage would increase the risk of side effects, so this medication is not usually prescribed to women of any age.
Does Minoxidil work for women's hair loss?
Depending on the reason for your hair loss, minoxidil (also sold under the name Regaine) can be an effective way to slow down hair loss and encourage the growth of new hair.
It is often recommended for female pattern baldness, which is one of the most common causes of female hair loss.
As with many hair loss treatments, taking minoxidil requires patience. You can expect a wait of several months before you start to see your hair loss slowing down.
What's the best female hair loss treatment?
It's hard to pinpoint any medication as being the best, as the treatment that is most appropriate for you depends on several factors. Always consult your GP before beginning a course of hair loss medication.
Why get your female hair loss treatment from Rightdose?
At Rightdose, we are committed to bringing the treatment you need conveniently to your doorstep. We know that various factors can make visiting a pharmacy impractical or undesirable. We want to make it simpler for you to get the treatment you need.
We have a great range of hair loss treatments available. If you're after a prescription for female hair loss treatment, we have a friendly team of specialists on hand to help you.
Because we understand that people may be too busy to come into a pharmacy or may feel embarrassed about their treatment, we offer a free, discrete delivery service on all orders above £25.
If you're experiencing sudden hair loss, please consult a GP. And if you'd like to talk to one of our qualified pharmacists, you can either visit us in-store or get a private prescription from our helpful online doctor service