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Dealing With Hair Loss in Women
The Typical Cycle of Hair Growth (and Loss)
Female Pattern Hair Loss
Other Causes of Hair Loss
- Telogen effluvium (temporary shedding of hair)—This can occur a few months after a woman delivers a baby, and usually lasts about 1-6 months before completely resolving.
- Breaking of hair —This may be caused by styling treatments, such as dyes, tints, bleaches, and straighteners, as well has twisting and pulling of hair.
- Alopecia areata—This is an autoimmune disorder in which affected hair follicles are mistakenly attacked by a person's own immune system, causing patchy areas of total hair loss.
- Thyroid disease—Both an overactive and underactive thyroid can cause hair loss. It can be reversed with proper treatment.
- Illness—Being very ill can lead to hair loss.
- Major surgery—A major operation may temporarily increase hair shedding.
- Chemotherapy—Causes hair cells to stop dividing, become thin, and break off. Hair regrows after treatment ends.
- Tinea capitis—This is a treatable fungus infection on the scalp that can cause patchy hair loss.
- Medications—Taking certain medications can lead to hair loss, such as blood thinners, antidepressants, or blood pressure medications.
- Inadequate protein in diet—Although rare in the US, growing hairs will shift into the resting phase when you don’t get enough protein from your diet. The condition can be reversed and prevented by eating adequate amounts of protein.
- Low iron levels—Iron deficiency occasionally produces hair loss; it can be corrected by taking iron pills.
Is It Possible to Prevent Female Pattern Hair Loss?
Treatment for Female Pattern Hair Loss
- Medication—Minoxidil is a medication that is available in the United States without a prescription. It is used topically on the scalp. The medication is usually applied to the scalp twice a day. It may take more than four months of use before you will see your hair regrow. Hair loss recurs if treatment is stopped.
- Hair replacement surgery—Hair transplants involve taking plugs of donor follicles from another person's scalp and using these to fill the hairline. The procedure usually requires multiple transplantation sessions. It can also cause minor scarring in the donor areas and carries a risk for skin infection. Results, however, are often very good and permanent.
- Nonsurgical hair additions—A nonsurgical hair addition is an external hair device, such as a weave, extension, or hair piece that is added to existing hair or the scalp to give the appearance of a fuller head of hair. They are safe. Many women may opt for partial transplantation and a partial hair addition.
Alopecia Areata Foundation http://www.naaf.org
American Hair Loss Association http://www.americanhairloss.org
Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca
Androgenetic alopecia. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated March 8, 2013. Accessed January 30, 2014.
Hair loss. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/dermatology-a-to-z/diseases-and-treatments/e---h/hair-loss. Accessed January 30, 2014.
Hair loss. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/hair-loss.html. Updated December 2010. Accessed January 30, 2014.
Minoxidil (topical). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 18, 2013. Accessed January 30, 2014.
Price VH. Treatment of hair loss. N Engl J Med. 1999; 341:964-973.
Trost LB, Bergfeld WF, Calogeras E. The diagnosis and treatment of iron deficiency and its potential relationship to hair loss. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2006; 54:824.
Women's hair loss. American American Hair Loss Council website. Available at: http://www.americanhairloss.org/women%5Fhair%5Floss. Accessed January 30, 2014.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 01/2014
- Update Date: 00/13/2014