Hair Loss in women is a silent epidemic of tremendous proportions. More than forty percent of hair loss sufferers in the U.S are women and a large percentage of these women are between the ages 18 to 35. Androgenetic alopecia, inherited pattern hair loss, is the most common cause of permanent hair loss in women as it is in men.
Patterns in hair loss differ significantly in women and every case of hair loss in women should be considered for individual diagnosis. Female pattern androgenetic alopecia usually occurs as diffuse thinning of hair rather than the frank baldness often seen in men.
Hair loss in women is often difficult to diagnose and can be caused by many factors, including dietary protein and amino acid deficiency, menopause, intestinal parasites, and damage from hair treatments. Hair loss in women can sometimes have an underlying hormonal or dermatologic cause, or be associated with severe emotional or physical stress. When such an underlying cause is suspected, it would be best to consult a medical specialist for further examination and diagnosis. Hair loss can be a first sign or symptom of an underlying medical condition.
Other common causes of hair loss in women include:
• Alopecia areata- patchy loss of hair from the scalp and sometimes eyebrows or other hair-bearing areas of the body; thought to be due to an autoimmune disorder. Hair loss can be recurrent and episodic.
• Telogen effluvium- unusually accelerated hair loss that may have nutritional, drug-associated, hormonal or stress-associated causes.
• Trichotillomania- habitual hair plucking, sometimes associated with emotional stress or a psychological disorder.
• Loose-anagen syndrome- a condition in which scalp hair is easily pulled out by normal combing or brushing; more common in fair-haired individuals.
• Traction alopecia- hair loss associated with consistent traction pressure on hair follicles, as may occur with corn-rowing of hair or tight braiding.
• Scarring alopecia- caused when physical trauma or burns damage scalp hair follicles. Traction alopecia can lead to scarring alopecia.
• Triangular alopecia- hair is lost from areas around the temples due to an unknown cause.
Remember that most female hair loss can be treated medically or surgically, but successful treatment requires correct diagnosis by a hair restoration specialist.
Appropriate treatment of an underlying medical condition may resolve the problem of hair loss, and no treatment for hair loss will be indicated. Some causes of temporary hair loss such as hormonal changes during pregnancy will resolve spontaneously. When a prolonged period of temporary hair loss seems likely such as when a woman undergoes prolonged treatment for a medical condition like cancer, the patient may consult a hair restoration specialist regarding full or partial temporary hair prosthesis.
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