Whether long, short, bouncy, or sleek, for many women, hair is far more than just a pile of loose fibers. In addition to serving as an expression of her personality and style, studies have that a woman’s hair is closely linked to her own self-image. If suffering from the occasional bad hair day can make a woman feel poorly about herself, hair loss become a devastating sight for women to deal with on a daily basis.
The notion that only men need deal with thinning or losing their hair is simple incorrect, as women account for 40 percent of those who experience temporary or permanent hair loss. While some women see their hair thin all over, others see an increasingly widening center hair part. Even more disconcerting, some women even experience noticeable baldness in the crown region of the head. However, unlike men, women rarely ever develop a receding hairline.
The scalp of the average adult contains approximately 100,000 hairs. Your follicles each produce one hair that grows at roughly the rate of half an inch a month. Usually a strand of hair will continue to grow anywhere between two to six years before resting and eventually falling out. Shortly after this occurs, the follicle will start to grow a new hair and the process will once again repeat itself. At any one time, approximately 85 percent of your hair grows while the remaining 15 percent rests.
Since resting hair eventually falls out, the average person will lose around 50 to 100 hairs a day. This is why finding the occasional hair on your clothes or hairbrush is no cause for alarm. However, when abnormal hair loss occurs it can happen in a variety of ways. You may begin to notice sizable clumps fall out as you style or shampoo your hair, or your hair may simply start to thin out over time.
If you become concerned about your hair loss, talk with your doctor. Using what’s referred to as the Savin Scale, your doctor can measure your hair loss to determine the severity of the problem.
Hair loss affects approximately 30 million American women a year.
Causes of Hair Loss
Women can begin to experience hair loss due to over 30 medical conditions and a variety of different lifestyle factors. As a starting point to determine the reason behind a woman’s hair loss, a doctor may test for a thyroid problem and any signs of a potential hormone imbalance. In many cases where hair loss is due to an underlying medical condition, a woman’s hair will grow back once the condition has been treated.
Some of the most common causes of hair loss in women include:
- Thyroid problems. A butterfly shaped gland located at the front of the neck, the thyroid produces hormones that regulate a variety of processes throughout the body. If a woman’ thyroid produces too little or too much hormone, this could affect the normal hair growth cycle.
- Alopecia areata. A condition that causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles, alopecia areata can cause dramatic hair loss in women. Fortunately, the hair loss is rarely permanent, and a woman’s hair will usually grow back within six to 12 months.
- Childbirth. Due to the excess of hormones produced by the body during pregnancy, a woman may notice her hair looks fuller. This is due to high hormones levels prevents resting hair from falling out as it would normally. However, once the baby is born and hormone levels return to normal, resting hair will begin to fall out quickly, and can mean a woman experiences a lot of hair loss during a short period of time.
- The pill. Women who take the pill as a form of birth control may experience some hair loss, especially if they have a family history of thinning hair. The hormones the pill suppresses that prevents ovulation can also cause a disruption in how effectively a woman’s hair grows.
- Hairstyle. While you might of thought this an urban legend, women who wear their hair too tightly pulled back in ponytails or in cornrows may experience hair loss due to scalp irritation. However, by letting your hair down, it should grow back in time.
Timothy Lemke is a freelance health and science writer. To read more of his work, visit the website of Dr. Nathan Austria, a dentist in Bethany, OR.