When you think of hair loss it’s natural to assume that it’s a condition that predominantly affects men. Some experts however suggest that as many as one in four women will experience hair loss at some time in their lives. So why don’t we see and hear more about it? Perhaps the answer has something to do with one or more of the following:
- Women are better at disguising hair loss.
- Women’s hair loss is generally less extensive in terms of severity.
- Women’s hair loss tends to be spread evenly over the head rather than concentrated in one or two spots.
So why do women lose hair – are the causes very different to those that result in male baldness? There are probably three common reasons for hair loss in women:
1. Female pattern baldness – believe it or not, most women affected by hair loss lose it for the same reasons as men. They suffer from androgenetic alopecia which is a reaction to male hormones in the body, specifically the conversion of testosterone into the hair-unfriendly DHT. In the case of women, pattern baldness may start later and the effects may be less extreme due to the influence of female hormones, but the condition is nonetheless the same as that found in male pattern baldness.
2. Telogen effluvium – this is regarded as the second most common cause of women’s hair loss and this is unsurprising given the nature of the condition. Telogen effluvium is characterized by a general thinning of the hair and is usually brought about as a result of some traumatic event causing sufficient stress to interfere with the normal hair growth cycle. Given that pregnancy is a prime example of the type of event that can shock the hair growth cycle then perhaps the high incidence of telogen effluvium amongst women is only to be expected.
3. Alopecia areata – this is the third most common hair loss condition to affect women. It is characterized by patchy areas of hair loss on the head or it can be more widespread over the body. It is thought to be caused by deficiencies in the immune system but much is still not known about the condition. In many cases the hair regrows spontaneously after a variable period of time, but in a minority of cases the problem may be more severe and longstanding.
If you experience any form of hair loss arrange to visit your physician to discuss the treatments that may be suitable for your particular condition.