Hair Loss in Women

Hair loss is not only the domain of men. Hair loss in women affects millions of women worldwide and tends to come in two distinct forms. Female pattern hair loss (which accounts for about 95% of women’s hair loss), and chronic hair loss. The former relates to the natural thinning process that many women experience as they grow older whereby the hair gets noticeably thinner around the crown and forehead areas. This is a common occurrence in women once the onset of menopause starts and there is a marked increase in the percentage of women who suffer from this affliction once they reach the age of 40. The reason this form of hair loss occurs in women is that the levels of Estrogen decline as a woman ages. This Estrogen, in its various forms, helps to counter-act the effects of the (male) hormone testosterone that all women have in their bodies to some degree. This in turn has a minimizing effect on the levels of the testosterone variant, DHT, that is produced and it is this DHT that is primarily responsible for hair loss. Once a woman reaches menopause, the levels of estrogen decrease markedly and the effects of testosterone and DHT become more evident. This in turn leads to the thinning of hair around the crown and forehead areas. The life cycle of the hair follicles in these areas becomes shorter, and shedding of hair becomes more frequent.

Another relatively common cause of women’s hair loss (as well as with men) is from a condition called Alopecia Areata. This is an auto-immune disease that can affect approximately 2-3% of women. This condition is caused by the hair follicles coming under attack from white blood cells which leaves the follicles damaged (but not dead). This in turn causes the hair to have a reduced growth cycle and results in hair loss. While the follicle is still live, there is little that can be done to stimulate hair growth again. Alopecia Areata starts with a small, round bald spots normally originating on the scalp, but can spread to other parts of the body. In rare and chronic cases, total body hair loss can result.