What Can Cause Hair Loss in Women?

It’s perfectly normal to see 50 to 100 hairs shed per day.  Because new hair is growing in at the same time, this degree of hair loss isn’t noticeable.  The challenge is when this cycle of shedding and hair growth is disturbed, or the hair follicle is destroyed and replaced with scar tissue, clogging the scalp and therefore new hair growth.  If you're losing more strands than usual or you notice your hair's thinner than it used to be, here's the most common causes for hair loss in women:

Most Common Causes of Hair Loss

#1 “Thanks Mom and Dad!”

Yes, a hereditary condition called female-pattern baldness is the most common cause of hair loss. It usually occurs gradually in the form of thinning hair called “genetic androgenic alopecia” which means that your hair follicles are more sensitive to DHT, a male hormone found in both men and women.  The hair strand thins and can fall out when DHT shrinks these sensitive follicles.  

 

#2 “And Baby Makes…Me Lose Hair?”

Hair loss post pregnancy is known as “telogen effluvium” which is a fancy term for the excessive shedding of hair that occurs around the third or fourth month after giving birth.  

An elevated estrogen level prolongs the growing stage during pregnancy.  Many women have luxurious, thick hair while pregnant because there are fewer hairs in the resting stage and fewer falling out each day.  After giving birth, estrogen levels plummet and a lot more hair follicles enter the resting stage, thus more hair falling out.  It’s temporary and ends 3-4 months after first signs.  

 

#3 Other Hormonal Changes

In addition to hormone changes due to pregnancy or menopause, other fluctuations can cause telogen effluvium hair loss:

  • Thyroid problems may cause hair loss.

  • Going off the Pill or changing to a different type of hormonal contraception can also cause hormone-induced shedding.

 

#4. Medical Conditions

  • Patchy hair loss or “alopecia areata” is a type of nonscarring hair loss and occurs when the body's immune system attacks hair follicles — causing sudden hair loss that leaves smooth, roundish bald patches on the skin.

  • Infections, such as ringworm, can invade the hair and skin of your scalp, leading to scaly patches and hair loss. Once infections are treated, hair generally grows back.

  • Diseases that cause “scarring alopecia” may result in permanent loss at the scarred areas. These conditions include lichen planus, some types of lupus and sarcoidosis.

  • A hair-pulling disorder called “trichotillomania” causes people to have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair, whether it's from the scalp, the eyebrows or other areas of the body.

  • An autoimmune hair loss condition can stem from rheumatoid arthritis and certain types of anemia such as sickle-cell anemia. Lupus can cause some scarring of the hair follicle, resulting in permanent hair loss.

  • Even a fever can cause hair loss in some women that will eventually grow back.

 

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#5 Dandruff

When the skin on the scalp is inflamed and itchy, your hair may start to shed more than usual. Dandruff is the most easily treated cause of hair loss because you can treat it with a specially designed shampoo for dry, itchy scalp such as THIQUE Dry, Itchy Scalp Shampoo. This shampoo features celery seed extracts (Apium Graveolens) that visibly reduces dandruff, soothes itchy scalp, moisturizes the scalp and decreases sebum production.  The key is consistently using the product over time to treat the dandruff.  

 

 

#6 Diet Changes

Eating protein is essential for our bodies to make new hair cells. If you're not eating enough, your body won't have enough new hairs to replace the old ones when they shed.  Sudden or excessive weight loss can cause hair loss.

 

#7 Medications

Hair loss can be caused by drugs used for cancer, arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure. Intake of too much vitamin A may cause hair loss as well.

 

#8 Stress

Many people experience a general thinning of hair several months after a physical or emotional shock or triggering event.  When you're experiencing something stressful or traumatic—not your average day-to-day stress, but something big and life-altering you may experience a temporary halt in hair growth as your body puts its resources toward getting you through said big event. This type of hair loss is temporary. Examples of trigger events include:

  • Surgery

  • Death in the family

  • Divorce

  • Significant job change

  • Big move

 

#9 Hair Styling

Excessive hairstyling or hairstyles that pull your hair tight, such as pigtails or cornrows, can cause “traction alopecia” and thinning of the hairline. Hot oil hair treatments and permanents can cause inflammation of hair follicles that leads to hair loss. If scarring occurs, hair loss could be permanent.

Hair extensions, whether weaved in or clipped in, can pull the hair causing the same traction alopecia as tight pony tails.  Many salons recommend washing and treating hair and scalp with hair thinning products while wearing the extensions to help keep natural hair strong.

“Trichorrhexis nodosa” is a condition where damaged, weak points in the hair shaft cause hair to break off easily. The cause? Thermal damage to the hair from heat styling tools can cause this form of hair loss located not from the root but from somewhere along the shaft.

Getting frequent bleaching, dying, perms, chemical straightening or relaxing procedures—basically anything that uses harsh chemicals on your scalp and hair—can damage the hair follicle and cause permanent hair loss. 

Regardless of any and all of the above, if you are suddenly noticing thinning of your hair or hair loss, visit your physician as soon as possible to assess your medical condition.