Women’s Hair Loss: Causes, Treatments, and Solutions

How Do You Measure Hair Loss?

Doctors characterize the severity of hair loss using something called the Savin density scale. This scale has 8 stages and describes hair loss around the midline part as well recession in the front of the hairline. Some women lose hair to various degrees around the midline and/or in the front of the hairline. Some women experience hair thinning all over the scalp. Hair loss may occur in episodes or continuously. The doctor parts the hair down the middle of the head and then determines the severity of hair loss. The most common pattern for female pattern baldness is thinning around the midline that occurs in the shape of a Christmas tree. The pattern and severity of female hair loss helps determine the appropriate course of treatment.

The Thyroid Disease Connection

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that rests in the front base of the neck. It secretes thyroid hormones that are used by every cell in the body. There’s a connection between hair loss in women and thyroid disease. Imbalances in thyroid hormone levels are a common reason for hair loss in women. Too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) and too little thyroid hormone (hypothyroidism) may both trigger hair loss. Other symptoms of hyperthyroidism include weight loss, rapid heart rate, inability to fall asleep or stay asleep, and anxiety. In addition to hair loss, hypothyroidism may be associated with weight gain, fatigue, feeling cold, slow heart rate, and constipation. Luckily, thyroid hormone imbalances are easily detectable with blood tests. Treatment helps alleviate symptoms, including hair loss.

PCOS Can Be a Trigger

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a condition in women in which the body manufactures more androgens, or male hormones, than it normally should. It is a potential cause of hormonal hair loss in women. Women who suffer from this condition may grow facial hair and extra body hair. One of the other symptoms of this condition is thinning of hair on the head. Women affected with PCOS may also experience weight gain, acne, menstrual irregularities, ovulation problems, depression, and infertility. Hair thinning may be the only outward sign that a woman is suffering from this condition.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is a condition that causes hair loss in round patches on the scalp and body. Alopecia is the medical term for baldness. With alopecia areata, missing hair often grows back approximately 6 months to 1 year later. Less than 5% of people lose all the hair on their head and body. Complete baldness of the scalp is called alopecia totalis. This type of hair loss is not contagious. What causes alopecia areata? It is an autoimmune condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys hair follicles. Hair loss due to alopecia areata tends to come on suddenly.

The condition may be treated with steroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, or immunosuppressive medications. People with alopecia areata suffer from more allergies, asthma, and autoimmune conditions compared to those who do not have the condition. Minoxidil (Rogaine) for hair loss in women is one option for treatment.

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