"Androgenic alopecia, also known as pattern baldness, is more common than you might think among females, affecting 30 of the population at some point in their lives. "
Dr Bashar Bizrah
THESE are the most common causes of hair loss in women - and what you can do to try and remedy it.
Dr Bashar Bizrah is founder of the Beyond Med Centre in Kensington, London, which specialises in hair restoration and cosmetic surgery.
He says: "Androgenic alopecia, also known as pattern baldness, is more common than you might think among females, affecting 30% of the population at some point in their lives. And a growing number of women are seeking either hair transplants or are undergoing new treatments designed to combat hair loss."
Here Dr Bizrah describes some of the ways you might go bald if you’re female.
"If you’ve been through a traumatic event, such as a particularly gruelling childbirth or periods of extreme stress, it can have a real impact on your hair. In normal situations, around 10 per cent of the hairs on your scalp are in the telogen, i.e. the ‘shedding’, phase. In extreme stress shocks the system, triggering many more hairs to go into this shedding phase all at once - as much as 70 per cent of the hairs on your head. This is called ‘telogen effluvium’ and it might take three months to become apparent. You might notice hair in your plug hole, or even on your pillow. The good news is that, in most cases, telogen effluvium clears up of its own accord, though it may take a number of months to rectify itself."
"Healthy hair is all about hormones as they help to regulate the hair growth cycle. So iIf you have a hormone imbalance you could suffer hair loss. Female oestrogen helps to keep hairs in their growth phase for the proper length of time but testosterone is converted in the body into a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, also known as DHT. This DHT can stop a hair receiving the nutrients it needs and causes the follicle to shrink and die. A woman may end up with a surplus of male hormones in their body if they have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or thyroid disorders. Treatment can be complicated, but in many cases, you can apply a solution to the scalp - an anti-androgen (such as Minoxidil) with precaution in the first instance."
Your choice of hairstyle
"If you put hair under excessive tension over a prolonged period of time, it can cause inflammation to the area and damage to the follicles. This triggers the ‘telogen’ shedding phase of the hair, and it’ll fall out, in what’s known as traction alopecia. Hairstyles that might be problematic include tight ponytails, hair extensions, dreadlocks, braiding, and cornrows. While hair will regrow if you catch the condition early enough, it often requires hair transplant to rectify. It’s something we’ve seen when a profession, such as being a ballet dancer, calls for the hair to be styled in this way."
"This is one of the little-known causes of hair loss, but it’s also quite common. Iron deficiency (Anaemia) leads to low production of haemoglobin in the blood. Haemoglobin repairs cells in the body and carries oxygen to the follicles. A lack of Haemoglobin means your hair is starved and will begin to thin and shed. To combat this type of hair loss, you need to eat lots of iron-rich foods, including spinach, mushrooms, pumpkin seeds, cashews, pine nuts and almonds."
Vitamin B12 Deficiency
"Similar to an iron deficiency, a lack of vitamin B12 can also cause hair loss as well as feelings of extreme lethargy. The body needs vitamin B-12 to keep metabolism consistent and to produce red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the scalp. It’s common for vegans to struggle to get enough B12, largely because it’s predominantly found in animal products. You can get vitamin B12 from specially fortified foods such as milk products, vegan spreads, nutritional yeast flakes, yeast extracts and breakfast cereals."
Genetics can also play a role
"Female pattern hair loss, also known as androgenic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss in women. It’s largely hereditary and as in men it gets worse with age. Less than half of women will make it past their 65th birthday with a full head of hair. You are more at risk if there’s a history of female hair loss in your family. Some sufferers will opt to undergo hair transplantation, where healthy hair follicles are taken from the back and sides of the scalp and transplanted onto the balding areas."
"This is a subject that’s been in the news lately, and it’s really common. Pregnancy and breastfeeding cause a surge in oestragen, which keeps your hair in the growing phase, making it look lustrous and thick. Three to four months down the line, however, the hormone levels return to normal, sending lots of hairs into the shedding phase. This is another form of telogen effluvium, and you might even notice a receding hairline as well as a general thinning. I’d recommend trying to eat lots of iron-rich foods and again consider relaxation, balance diet, regular combing of hair and refrain from colouring of hair."
"This is all about nutrients. If you’re on a crash diet and you go through sudden weight loss, nutrients earmarked for your hair are suddenly diverted to other parts of the body as part of the survival mechanism and this can result in hair shedding and thinning. When people stop losing weight, the hair loss usually resolves itself. It’s vital you maintain adequate levels of nutrients even if you’re restricting calories."
Your choice of sport
"While you might have enjoyed watching the England women’s national football team at this summer’s World Cup there has been controversial claims that repeatedly heading a football might spark hair loss. It’s again down to inflammation of the scalp, over a long period of time in training and in matches, leading to a form of alopecia. There’s currently no evidence to prove this is a real Phenomenon but it warrants further investigation."