10 Common Causes of Hair Loss in Women (And What You Can Do About It!)
Are you dismayed by how much hair you see in the hairbrush and shower each day? Hair loss can be extremely devastating for women. It is not uncommon for women to be in tears in the office because of emotional distress from their hair loss. While women don’t typically lose all their hair, once shedding is underway baldness feels like a real possibility!
Here are 10 common causes of hair loss.
1. Thyroid problems
Thyroid problems are a common cause of hair loss, especially in women. Other symptoms associated with low thyroid function include: fatigue, weight gain, constipation, feeling cold, depressed mood, anxiety, poor memory, loss of sex drive, dry skin, and dry/dull hair. Standard thyroid blood tests may miss subtle thyroid problems, but even mild problems can cause distressing hair loss. Many women who are being treated with standard thyroid hormone replacement continue to have symptoms despite treatment. Fortunately, we can optimize thyroid function and achieve healthier, thicker hair.
An over-functioning thyroid gland can also cause hair loss, so good thyroid balance is important!
Cortisol is your main stress hormone. It is produced in your adrenal glands to help you cope with stress. If cortisol levels are abnormal, hair loss can result. If you can reduce stress, your hair loss may diminish, but you made need some help. It is possible to measure your cortisol level and while there are no prescription medicines to correct this problem, lifestyle changes and nutritional supplements can help.
Menopausal hormone changes can cause thinning hair (and thinning skin, and thinning bones….). Restoring hormone levels with bio-identical hormone replacement can help improve the health of your hair (and skin, and bones!).
4. Prescription medications
Many drugs can contribute to hair loss in women, including the use of birth control pills. The American Hair Loss Assocation (AHLA) recommends that women use a low-androgen index birth control pills to if they are genetically predisposed to hair loss. Talking to your doctor about changing pills or choosing a non-hormonal birth control option may help to correct the problem. .
Diabetes, or even pre-diabetes may be associated with hair loss. A holistic approach to managing blood sugar includes lifestyle changes, nutritional supplements, and weight loss. This may help hair loss, as well as reduce the risks for some very serious longterm health issues.
6. Nutritional deficiencies
While Americans are not typically malnourished, we tend to be nutritionally deficient due to poor quality food choices. The food available at your grocery store may not have optimal vitamin and mineral content because of modern farming practices. If you have symptoms such as gas, bloating, indigestion, heartburn, constipation or diarrhea, your ability to digest and absorb the nutrients in your food may be impaired. Certain medications, such as antacids, can also impair your ability to digest nutrients. Nutritional testing is available to determine whether this may be a problem for you. One of the common nutrient deficiencies we see associated with hair loss is an iron deficiency.
7. Chronic disease
If you have any chronic disease, hair growth may be slowed to help redirect your body’s resources to other areas to help promote healing. In this case, hair loss is a symptom of another problem going on in your body, such as an auto-immune disorder or chronic inflammation. Addressing the underlying problem should help your hair.
8. Androgenic Alopecia
This is the medical name for genetic hair loss (female pattern baldness) This is hereditary and happens slowly over many years. Typically there is family history of baldness in male relatives and thinning hair in female relatives. Women do not typically become completely bald. The hair loss occurs even with normal levels of hormones so treatment for hair loss, such as a PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatment, is frequently required to restore hair growth.
9. Alopecia Areata
This is a medical condition where the immune system attacks the hair follicles, causing patches of hair loss. This is much less common, but more difficult to manage. The hair may not grow back on its own and may require treatment to restore hair growth. PRP has been effective in helping with this type of hair loss.
If you have any kind of physical trauma, such as a severe illness, a serious injury or surgery, this can trigger increased hair shedding. The stressful event “shocks” the hair cycle temporarily, so less hair is shed around the time of the incident (you don’t notice this!). When the hair cycle starts up again, more hair is lost all at once (so you notice the shedding!). This typically happens 3-6 months later (which can be quite confusing!). The good news is that this problem (called “telogen effluvium”) will resolve without treatment.
Tips to restore healthy hair growth!
Reduce stress. Simplify your life if possible, and know that it is not always the AMOUNT of stress you are under that is the biggest factor, but how you ALLOW the stress to affect you that matters.
Ensure hormonal balance – Take steps to restore hormone levels to optimal ranges. Measuring your hormone levels and restoring normal hormone balance with natural, bio-identical hormone therapy can be life changing for women and has far more benefits than simply improving the health of your hair.
Improve nutrition and optimize digestive health to allow better absorption of nutrients. Eat whole foods including fruits and vegetables, avoid processed food and especially sugar. Ensure that you are not iron deficient, and consider being tested for a full panel of nutrients.
Get regular moderate exercise – exercise increases blood flow to the scalp and improves your overall health. Since your hair is a reflection of your overall health, your nutrition and fitness level are important to hair health.
Take biotin, which is a B vitamin that can be helpful for hair and nails. Our patients have found excellent results with RegeneMax Plus, which is a form of biotin with added silica (another nutrient important for hair). This has worked better than standard biotin, and has quickly become one of our top selling supplements (people come back for more because they can see a difference!)
Consider PRP (platelet rich plasma) treatments. PRP is appropriate for most woman concerned about hair thinning. By the time the hair thinning is visible, approximately 50% of the hairs have been lost. Most women are well aware far sooner – their pony tail is thinner, their part becomes wider and they can see the hair shedding. PRP treatments will have the best effects on hair follicles that still have some function. This innovative procedure has been featured on ABC news .
For best results, it is important to address your hair loss BEFORE it is in the advanced stages So starting sooner rather than later is recommended.
If you would like more information or need help to correct your hair loss issues, please contact the office at 704-752-9346 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information is available here.
Yours in Health!
Dr. Deb Matthew, MD