Hair loss can as easily happen to women as to men. If you are suffering from hair loss, it is important to understand the reasons this may be happening, because they are not all the same. As a Philadelphia-area hair replacement and hair transplant expert, I might be able to help you understand your condition and the options for addressing it.
Hair loss in women might be divided into three categories: temporary hair loss, semi-permanent hair loss, and Cicatricial Alopecia.
1. Temporary Hair loss is usually hormonal or related to diet. The most common cause is having inadequate iron storage levels. Storage is enabled by a protein called ferritin, and heavy periods can deplete ferritin levels, as can a vegetarian diet. Temporary hair loss can also be caused by specific medicines (some anticoagulant and antimalarial drugs), as well as cancer treatments.
Some women may also experience hair loss after giving birth. When a woman conceives, she experiences a surge of estrogen. This tends to lead to physical improvements during pregnancy in skin and hair. After delivery, estrogen levels come down to normal. Hair may respond to this decrease in estrogen by falling out. Some of that hair would have fallen out anyway, due to natural hair loss, but pregnancy and elevated estrogen levels kept it in. That is why many women feel their hair to be thicker and lusher during pregnancy, and why they experience a sudden change after they give birth.
Temporary hair loss is totally reversible because hair follicles are still healthy.
2. Semi-permanent hair loss is fairly common and usually genetic. For women suffering from semi-permanent hair loss, a group of hormones interfere with the hair growth cycle, and that group is especially sensitive to contact with testosterone. When that contact happens, the outcome is a retardation of the hair cycle, resulting in hair loss and slowing hair growth.
With this pattern of hair loss, regimens of oral drugs and scalp treatments can be taken to reverse it. There will likely be some improvement, but to what extent depends on various factors.
Women who are taking oral contraceptives should make sure that they are hair-friendly. Oral contraceptives can contain progestin, a synthetic version of the hormone progesterone. The more progestin in the pill, the less hair friendly it is.
3. The third kind of hair loss is Cicatricial Alopecia. Alopecia is a general term for hair loss, and cicatricial alopecia is a term for scarring hair loss. With this condition, scarring destroys the hair follicles. Sometimes a scar develops inside the head, but you can also get cicatricial alopecia from a knock on the head, accident, burns, or localized radiation therapy.
Another type of cicatricial alopecia is called frontal fibrosing alopecia. In such cases, hair at the front of the head falls out and often the eyebrows do as well. This condition was only recently identified, and it is not clear what causes it. But the vast majority of women who suffer from it are post-menopausal.
With a proper diagnosis for your hair loss condition, the right treatment options can also be identified.