You may not immediately know that you are losing more hair than normal when it first starts. It is only when parts of your scalp become visible, when you repeatedly find clumps of hair clogging the shower drain or when your pillow is covered with too many strands of hair, that you may realize that you are facing a problem with hair loss. However, there may be no need to panic just yet – hair loss may not necessarily be permanent and could even reverse without you doing anything.
Some Hair Loss Is Normal
Before you self-diagnose yourself with alopecia, there are some instances where hair loss is considered normal. Firstly, most of us think that female hair loss is always abnormal while some degree of hair loss in men is normal. This is not so. Both males and females lose some hair on a daily basis – it is around 100 strands. This is related to the different stages of hair growth, where some strands are growing, others are stagnant and a few are shed to make way for new hair growth.
Normal hair loss occurs on a strand-by-strand basis. You will notice strands of hair on a pillow when you awaken in the morning. You will find strands of hair on a brush or comb after grooming your hair. And you will also find some hair in the bath or shower drain after bathing. A few strands of hair in this manner is considered normal and most of us are accustomed to it. However, when these strands of hair seem to be excessive, occur in clumps or handfuls of hair fall off when you run your hand through your hair then it is a problem.
Why does hair loss occur in women?
Most of us define this excessive hair loss as being a problem when parts of the scalp that were previously covered by hair now show through. It may also be defined as thinning hair, where the thick bulk of hair that is normally present now seems to be thinner even if portions of the scalp are not showing. It should be differentiated from hair loss which occurs with scalp diseases, like tinea capitis (ringworm of the scalp), where there is a also a rash on the affected area, itching and sometimes even an oozing discharge.
There are number of reasons why hair loss occur in women. Most people know that hair loss occurs with certain skin (scalp) diseases such as fungal infections like tinea capitis, with the use of very strong hair dyes and other hair care products, has been linked to genetic factors and stress, occurs with pregnancy and may arise with cancer treatments. However, there are many other causes as well such as:
- Autoimmune diseases
- Thyroid disorders
- Certain hormone medication, including some oral contraceptives
- Medication for preventing blood clots, treating epilepsy and for thyroid problems
- Nutritional deficiencies
- Physiological stress, like a severe illness or after major surgery
Androgenetic areata is a condition where hormonal changes leads to hair loss in women. It is also known as female pattern baldness. The loss of hair is a result of a rise in the male hormone levels which may be associated with age and family history. It is the most common type of hair loss in women.