Hair loss is a frustrating and distressing issue that might affect a woman’s mental and physical health on a long term. Knowing the causes of this process, could be a good start for better dealing with it and finding solutions. There are multiple causes of hair loss in women such as hormonal imbalance, stress, cancer therapy, genetic factors, hair products, and various scalp conditions.
Medical investigations showed that high levels of stress lead to three different types of hair loss: trichotillomania, the telogen phase, and alopecia areata. Trichotillomania represents the compulsive need to pull out your head from the scalp in order to face negative feelings, anxiety, loneliness, and uncomfortable life situations.
Sometimes large amounts of stress (drastic diets, intense training, or the loved one’s death) step in the hair growth cycle by pushing the hair into the telogen stage (the resting phase) so that the hair stops growing and falls out easily during washing or combing. Alopecia areata is another disorder related to stress and hair loss, when by mistake the immune system causes damages to hair follicles. In most of the alopecia areata cases, women recover their hair in a few months although sometimes the new hair might be thinner and whiter.
Androgenetic alopecia affects one of five women with ages ranging from puberty to post-menopausal period. This condition may appear due to genetic inheritance as well as to environmental factors. Recent studies revealed that variations of the AR gene determine an increased level of the hormones called androgens in hair follicles, which shortens the hair growth process leading to thin and easy breakable strands of hair. Differently from men, where androgenetic alopecia is limited to hair thinning on several areas of the head such as crown, sides, and front, many women deal with thin hair all over the scalp.
Ringworm is a contagious fungal infection that causes bald patches with a reddish ring around the edges and normal skin tone in the middle. The fungus enters into the hair, consumes its keratin and weakens the hair fiber, which becomes brittle and breakable.
Scalp folliculitis is associated with the inflammation and infection of hair follicles. In general, this disorder occurs when the hair follicles are irritated due to friction from clothes, shaving, tight braids made close to the scalp, and insect bites.
A common cause of hair loss in women is the hormonal imbalance induced by pregnancy, child’s birth, menopause, or stress. The low levels of estrogen, insulin, and thyroid lead to thinning hair, risk of androgenetic alopecia occurrence, and sudden hair loss.
Hair products and styling
Frequent bleaching, coloring, and usage of heat styling tools as well as hairstyles like tight ponytails, braids, and buns put additional stress on the hair roots and disturb the normal hair growth process. You can solve this problem by simply changing your hair styling habits and slowing down the use of harsh hair products.
Chemotherapy kills the cancer cells but affects the hair follicles too. Although most patients experience a total hair loss, new hair starts to grow 3-4 months later after the treatment stops.
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