• Stress is a common cause of hair loss in women
• 40% of women lose some hair after childbirth
• Dieting and poor diets can cause hair loss
• By 50 years of age, 25% of women have thinner hair
• Hair loss caused by mineral deficiency is more common in women than men
• Excessive use of hair extensions can lead to hair loss and thinning
Why do women lose hair?
There are many reasons why women lose hair. Often it follows childbirth and, occasionally, an illness. Stress is a common cause of hair loss, and dieting, or a poor diet, sometimes causes the hair to become thin as can an unhealthy scalp.
Hair extensions can cause hair loss as they are attached to small sections of hair near the scalp or sewn in and prolonged use can cause loss and thinning due to the extra strain this places on the hair strands.
The simplest solution is to stop wearing the extensions and in many cases, the hair will recover, unless extreme damage has been caused to the follicles.
Post-natal (Post-partum) hair loss
Pregnancy can have a wonderful effect on a woman’s hair. From about the fourth month of pregnancy her hair is usually at its absolute best. It is shinier, more abundant, more manageable and less greasy. Also, there is less dandruff and other scalp problems.
This improvement in the hair is because of the increase in female sex hormones (mainly oestrogen) at this time. But after the baby is born, there is often a great loss of hair due to these hormones falling back to the normal level.
The hair, which is lost after childbirth, is the hair that would normally have fallen out during the nine months of pregnancy but didn’t, and will now fall out from the second to the seventh month after the baby’s birth. Halle Berry and Louise Rednapp both experienced hair loss after pregnancy.
Post-natal hair loss affects approximately 40% of all women with children and can be a very frightening and upsetting experience, often because the woman does not know what exactly is causing the problem and when it will stop, and even in some cases, if it will stop. This excessive hair loss usually lasts for between 3 to 6 months and stops as suddenly as it started, and in time all the hair will be replaced.
Stress and hair loss
Stress related hair loss in women is an increasingly common problem. A growing number of women in stressful jobs suffer from thinning hair. Modern life and high stress levels associated with a fast moving lifestyle can have a truly dramatic effect upon our hair. Considerable stress can also be placed on a mother by the often formidable demands of her family.
Many parts of the body can suffer the effects of stress, but it shows very quickly in the hair because the life cycle of the hair is interrupted, causing it to fall out prematurely. In most cases, this type of hair loss is temporary and the hair which is lost will be replaced. The problem is, however, by the time one particular hair is replaced another two have fallen out, so the overall effect can be a significant thinning of the hair.
How to prevent stress related hair loss
The first rule, if you see excessive hair fall, is try not to panic (easy to say but often not easy to do), as this in itself can cause more stress which can cause more hair loss. Most people suffering from stress induced hair loss recover very well once the cause of the stress has been eliminated.
The following can help greatly to reduce stress related hair loss:
• Exercise is an excellent way of relieving stress. It keeps your body fit and well and it burns off the high levels of hormones which can cause problems.
• Relaxation and sleep are very important. Work hard when at work but if possible try to leave it behind when you go home. At lunch time take the phone off the hook while you eat a sandwich, even fifteen minutes of relaxation helps.
• Try to get the amount of sleep you think your body needs. Too little sleep leads to poor work, bad tempers
Common female hair loss
Although thinning of the hair is far more common in men, it can affect some women who have a genetic tendency towards this problem.
It is caused by the effects of androgens (male hormones which women also have, but at very low levels). These hormones restrict the growth of the hair which results in a characteristic thinning on the front and top of the scalp.
This form of hair loss affects 10% of all women between the ages of 18-40, 25% by the age of 50, and a staggeringly high 60% by 70 years of age. In many women it is only a minor problem affecting only a small proportion of their hair, but in others it can become distressing and may lead to a loss of self-confidence. and…worst of all, bad hair!
The hairs become finer and do not grow as long as they should, and the scalp eventually becomes a little more visible.
Treating common female hair loss
Good general health is always important as hair thinning is more likely to occur if a woman is ill or run down. Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) can sometimes have very good effects on hair growth but this would need to be discussed with the persons doctor. The high oestrogen HRT tablets tend to work best. Some women have seen good results from using Minoxidil (Equate).
Alopecia Arearta (Hair Loss in Patches)
This is another hair loss problem which is often associated with stress. The symptoms are a sudden increase in hair fall and the appearance of round or oval patches of baldness which are smooth to the touch. These patches may be singular or multiple in number with short broken hairs around the patches.
Although this problem can occur at any age, it is most common between ten and thirty-five years and affects women and men equally. Although this condition can be very distressing, an important point to remember is that the empty hair follicles are always only ever dormant, and not dead. So they remain capable of producing hair when the person’s health is improved or the right trigger is found.
Treatment for Alopecia Areata
It is best to have the problem diagnosed by a specialist in hair disorders. Names and addresses of qualified trichologists can be obtained from www.trichologists.org.uk
Dieting and hair loss
Dieting, particularly crash dieting, can be disastrous on the hair. To suddenly stop eating food can cause hair loss by the hand full; this type of dieting should never be undertaken unless it is required for medical reasons. A well prepared and sensible diet, accompanied by exercise is, however, a good way to loose weight and will not cause hair loss.
Low iron levels
Anaemia, or simply just low ‘normal’ iron levels, is another common cause of hair loss. In some cases leading to a marked thinning of the hair. Women are more susceptible to this problem than men because of the loss of iron in the blood during their menstrual periods.
It is, therefore, very important that this iron is replaced either by way of iron tablets or iron rich foods such as almonds, asparagus, bran, celery, egg yolk, kidney, lettuce, liver, oatmeal, soy beans and whole wheat, or by taking iron supplements.
The hair of the head is a product of the scalp and the hair and depends upon the scalp for its nourishment and well-being, similar to a rich fertile soil needed for plants to grow and flourish. So when the scalp becomes unhealthy it shows in the hair, often in the form of hair loss. But improving the health of the scalp leads to enormous improvements, not just to the scalp itself but also to the quality and condition of the hair and its ability to grow.