If you thought hair loss was purely a male domain then think again! Today, as many as 40% of American women suffer from hair loss symptoms. While men can get away with acute baldness women cannot pass through this stage without society looking down upon them. Since women are primarily judged by their appearance hair loss can be extremely debilitating on a woman’s self esteem and confidence.
Taking it lightly
Most of the time the medical fraternity does not do much to help when it comes to hair loss issues in women. Since it does not constitute a threat to a woman’s life and is not fatal most of the time hair loss in women is taken lightly. Women are usually advised to learn to accept it and end up having to camouflage their hair loss with wigs or other means.
The psychological impact
Hair loss in women is no laughing matter and should not be taken on a light note. The extent to which hair loss can affect the psychological well being of a woman is devastating. In fact, the psychological impact can be compared to other serious illnesses like breast cancer where the physical appearance of a woman can be compromised. More often than not, hair loss in a woman results in a serious lack of self confidence and an inability to carry on with life’s most basic functions.
Kinds of hair loss
Hair loss in women can surface both on a temporary basis or on a more permanent note. In cases where the hair loss is of a temporary nature it can be treated and cured successfully. However, in many situations these temporary hair loss problems are not diagnosed properly which in turn results in a long ter, hair loss situation and that can be very frustrating. In some cases short term kinds of hair loss can occur on account of high stress levels, pregnancy or as a reaction to certain medications.
Hair loss treatments available
Today women need not go through hair loss in agony as they once used to. There have been many advancements in the medical community on account of which various hair loss treatments have surfaced. One of the most promising drugs is called Minoxidil and is marketed under brand names Regaine inside European countries and Rogaine inside the US. This is an FDA approved drug which has been tested on people of various ages and most people who have used Rogaine have found long lasting results. Minoxidil has been found to be an effective hair loss cure by controlling and stopping hair loss altogether and also helping new healthy hair to form. The other drug which has been known to be successful at hair loss cure is called Finasteride. This curtails the presence of DHT which tends to shrink hair follicles and cause hair loss. Finasteride is also marketed as Propecia and you can obtain it through prescription. Minoxidil can be availed over the counter and you don’t need a prescription for it.
Why do women suffer from Hair loss?
There are many reasons why hair loss facilitates itself in a woman’s body. While stress and lifestyle choices certainly play a part at many other times the reasons could be due to certain medication, the usage of contraceptives, incorrect diagnosis of hair loss in the initial stages etc. Here are some of the common reasons why hair loss occurs in women.
The complications of diagnosis
Often hair loss symptoms can go unnoticed entirely in women. There are many reasons for this. Firstly, the main reason hair loss happens is on account of DHT. DHT is a converted form of testosterone hormone which tends to shrink hair follicles. The more the DHT the more is the risk of hair loss. However, while women have only a trace amount of testosterone even a small amount of DHT can be sufficient to trigger shrinkage of follicles and hence hair loss. In most cases, even a rise of DHT may not be detected on blood tests making it impossible to diagnosehair loss symptoms. At other times, a woman’s body maybe sensitive to even normal levels of hormones and chemicals which too can trigger DHT to cause hair loss.
Four common causes of hair loss
Hair loss in women is primarily caused by these following four conditions:
- Andogenetic Alopecia: This occurs in women characterized by thin hair on all regions of their scalp. While some women may have overall hair loss and thinning of hair other women may have patches of baldness as common in men. This condition is caused by androgens which are male hormones and are present in minute amounts in a woman’s body. Birth control pills which contain high levels of androgen or having ovarian cysts can all cause Andogenetic Alopecia.
- Telogen Effluvium: This happens in cases where a woman has undergone some sort of traumatic event. It could be some surgery, infection, child birth, stress or any other incident. Usually in such cases this type of hair loss happens within 6 weeks to around 3 months after such an event. In severe cases of such hair loss a woman can experience shedding of hair in handfuls which can be extremely stressful.
- Angen Effluvium: In such cases hair loss happens only due to some severe damage to the hair follicles. In cases like chemotherapy where radiation levels are very high it could deaden the hair follicles leading to severe hair loss. As much as 90% of a woman’s hair can fall after chemotherapy treatments. Usually in this kind of hair loss the characteristic is a tapering fracture in the shaft of the hair. This shaft continues to narrow down until it fractures causing hair loss.
- Traction Alopecia: This happens when the hair is traumatized locally. For example, tying up the hair too tight or using hair extensions can cause trauma in the hair causing hair loss.
There are many hair loss treatments available and two of these are FDA approved and highly successful. These are called Finasteride and Minoxidil which is marketed as Rogaine in US and Regaine in European countries.