Hair loss in women: Common causes and effective treatments

Serious hair loss affects an estimated eight million women in the UK and many more experience a degree of hair thinning. There are a number of factors that can cause hair loss in women but in most situations there are things you can do and proven, reliable treatment options that can help restore your hair.

This article on hair loss in women is written by Kate Moody of the Belgravia Centre, London.

Female pattern hair loss

Female pattern hair loss, a hereditary condition also known as androgenetic alopecia, usually affects women after menopause but is also relatively common among younger women. It is marked by the gradual thinning of hair on top of the scalp and is largely the result of a genetic predisposition, but a combination of the effects of hormones, heredity and simply getting older can also contribute.

Female pattern hair loss is caused by a product produced by the body called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which attaches itself to the hair follicles and causes them to shrink. As the hair follicle becomes smaller, the period of time the hair has to grow is also reduced, causing each strand of hair to become finer and shorter with every hair growth cycle. The follicles may continue to produce hair, albeit finer, but they could eventually become dormant and stop growing hair altogether.

This condition only affects hair on the top of the scalp, so if hair loss around the sides and back of the scalp is a concern, there is probably another reason other than genetics.

Traction alopecia

Female hair loss isn’t always linked to genetics or hormones. Traction alopecia looks like a receding hair line or patches of baldness but is caused by constant tension on the hair follicles rather than genetics, hormonal imbalances or infection. Certain hair styles such as hair extensions, braids, buns and tight ponytails can pull the hair from its roots and after prolonged strain, can damage the hair follicle beyond repair.

Provided the damaging styling habits are curbed, most of the time hair growth will resume. It may be difficult initially and hair loss treatments may be required to restore the health of the follicle and stimulate renewed hair growth. In any case, women experiencing traction alopecia should consult a hair loss specialist because if the follicles eventually shrivel and the area goes smooth, it’s unlikely the condition can be reversed. 

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a common female hair loss problem but is generally only temporary. Emotional stress such as a family loss or relationship troubles, childbirth, medications and poor nutrition can all come as a shock to the biological system. This can lead to a number of hairs passing from the growing stage to the resting stage which results in excessive shedding and diffuse-spread hair loss. But because the hair’s resting phase can last up to three months, excess hair fall is likely to be experienced three months after the event.

Treatment of telogen effluvium centres on addressing the cause and once this is dealt with, normal hair growth usually resumes. However, telogen effluvium can induce female pattern hair loss in those who have the genetic predisposition. In these cases, hair loss treatments may be required.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that affects one person in every 100 and can occur slowly, rapidly or irregularly. Women with alopecia areata may be otherwise healthy but the chronic inflammatory disease leaves them with coin-sized bald patches on the scalp when their immune system mistakenly attacks their hair follicles. The condition can develop at any age but is most common in young people aged between 15 and 29.

It’s not known for certain what causes alopecia areata but it has been associated with other autoimmune diseases, viral and bacterial infections, allergies, chemical exposure and stress. There is also a genetic link in one out of five cases.

Most effective treatments for women

There is only one treatment licensed for women’s hair loss in the UK. There are many hair loss products that claim to prevent or reverse female hair loss but minoxidil is the only one that is scientifically proven to do so. Many women with various conditions of hair loss have seen marked improvement with the use of minoxidil which not only stops hair loss in most cases but also helps hair grow back. However, minoxidil is a dosage-dependent medication and women’s hair loss is a multi-factorial condition that needs to be addressed from every angle.

Successful treatment

The Belgravia Centre bases its treatment courses for women’s hair loss around different formulations of minoxidil with added products that might help to block DHT from reaching the follicles in the aim of adding to its hair loss prevention properties. And so that each woman can have the opportunity to achieve the best results possible, the treatment courses are fine-tuned for every individual by incorporating appropriate hair growth boosters to complement the proven treatment. You can see the kind of results these women achieve by visiting and browsing through hundreds of photo scans and hair loss success stories.

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Hair loss in women: Common causes and effective treatments

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