Female Hair Loss
MUA In Scrubs’ note: The following article is a guest post by Becky Mackay
A thick, glossy head of hair can be a woman’s pride and joy and it seems to be a generalisation that only men are susceptible to the hair loss process. However, hair thinning and loss also commonly affect many women, who may feel less equipped to deal with the change than male sufferers.
Female hair loss can occur for a number of different reasons and finding the cause of your condition could be the first step towards treatment or acceptance of your change.
- Telogen Effluvium:
This is a stress related condition or a reaction to certain medication, which promotes a hormonal reaction and the shedding of hair from the scalp. Connected to the growth cycle of the hair, telogen effluvium can occur suddenly, but usually gets better naturally over the course of six months.
- Alopecia Areata:
This hair loss is caused by an autoimmune disease, which causes the white blood cells of your body to attack the hair follicles, causing hair production to slow and the follicles to shrink. This can affect patches of hair or the entire scalp and although the hair stops growing the follicles themselves are dormant rather than dead, meaning hair growth can begin again. However, research is still inconclusive about how to artificially induce this returned hair growth, so at the moment the sufferer must wait for the hair to naturally begin its growth cycle again.
- Androgenetic Alopecia:
This is related to the hormone levels within the body and is generally an inherited condition, from either the father or the mother. The genetic information that causes this type of hair loss involves the production of an enzyme called DHT, which if over produced causes the hair follicles to create thinner and thinner hair strands, until they stop production completely. This can affect both men and women, with the hair loss in men affecting the crown and hairline, while in women the loss is noticed at the sides and top of the head. This condition cannot be stopped completely, but certain lotions, including minoxidil can slow the process of balding and thicken the remaining hair. Hair transplants can also be used to increase the thickness of the hair, but are generally considered a last resort and are often more effective in the treatment of male hair loss.
This anti-cancer drug is used to destroy cancer cells, but unfortunately it also attacks other cells within the body, including the hair follicles. Chemotherapy doesn’t always cause this reaction and you will know within two to three weeks after you begin your chemotherapy treatment whether you will suffer hair loss. You may also only lose patches of hair, or feel tenderness in your scalp, but losing all of your hair is also a possibility. However, you can prevent the loss of hair during chemotherapy with the use of a cool cap, to cool the scalp and reduce and in some instances prevent, hair loss. Cold caps can come in the form of a gel filled cap or a cap refrigeration machine, which must be worn some time before and after your chemotherapy begins. However, chemotherapy hair loss isn’t permanent and once you stop receiving the drugs your hair can start growing back again.
During pregnancy your body produces more oestrogen, which promotes hair loss and hair production. However, once you have given birth the levels of oestrogen drops and your hair goes into the shedding part of the cycle. This usually occurs 3 to 4 months after the birth of your child and 60% of your hair can be lost. However, 6 to 12 months after the initial hair loss your hair will return to normal. You can do certain things to prevent extensive hair loss after pregnancy, which includes using conditioners and shampoos which contain silica and biotin, avoid tight hairstyle such as ponytails and cornrows and add vitamin B, biotin, vitamin C and vitamin E to your diet, although always consult your doctor before making any dietary changes.
Hair loss can be a demoralising situation, but many conditions are only temporary and new solutions to hair loss are being found every day. However, finding support and understanding could be the very best thing you do after hair loss and many groups now exist to help you discover people who can empathise with you and help you come to terms with your situation.
Becky Mackay is an online writer, with a keen interest in health and lifestyle. For more information on hair loss and other health conditions visit her Twitter page @FreshHealth11
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