Explanation for Female Hair Loss

Feb 08, 2024
Explanation for Female Hair Loss
We start growing hair before we’re even born and develop it in different areas of our bodies as we go through puberty. Losing hair can happen anywhere on your body for a variety of reasons. What causes it to happen in women?

A single human hair may look simple, but it’s a complicated structure composed of the subdermal (beneath your skin) follicle and the visible shaft of hair everyone sees. 

At the bottom of the follicle, a piece of tissue called the papilla contains capillaries and specialized cells that can grow new hairs when one is gone, and the hair itself is coated by oil from your sebaceous gland. 

You start growing hair as early as week 22 of pregnancy, and babies already have all the openings in their skin where hair will grow over time.

Many parts of your body will grow hair for many years, but you may stop growing hair in some areas for a number of reasons. For women, this can mean androgenic alopecia (female pattern baldness), which leads to thinning and hair loss. 

If you’re a woman in the Chicago, Illinois, area, and you’re coping with hair loss, our team of specialists at Michigan Avenue Primary Care can help.

To find out more about why hair loss happens in women and what can be done to manage it, let’s examine what this form of hair loss is, why women struggle with it, and what treatment options are available.

Understanding alopecia

Much like skin, hair is something we shed frequently, up to about 100 hairs daily as part of the normal function of the glands and follicles that create it. Alopecia refers to hair loss that isn’t part of how your body naturally works, and there are three types:

  • Anagen effluvium: commonly caused by medications that damage growing hair follicles, such as in the drugs used in chemotherapy
  • Telogen effluvium: an increase in the number of hairs falling out during the resting phase of hair growth
  • Androgenic alopecia: the most common form where hair thins at the top and on the sides and falls out

Reasons for hair loss in women

While more commonly seen in men, hair loss affects millions of women who may experience gradual thinning, bald spots, losing handfuls of hair, or full loss of hair. This can happen for many reasons, like medical treatments (chemotherapy), genetics, various hair treatments (dyeing, bleaching, perming), stress, hormonal imbalances, or hormonal changes during menopause.

Chronic health problems, including vitiligo, psoriasis, thyroid disease, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), celiac disease, Addison’s disease, scleroderma, and ringworm of the scalp can also lead to hair loss.

Methods of treatment

Managing your hair loss varies with the cause, but treatment options include medications, supplements, transplants, and laser treatments. Drugs like minoxidil (Rogaine®) are available by prescription or over the counter (in up to 5% solutions) and are used topically to restore your hair. 

Spironolactone is a medication that stops androgens from affecting your hair growth. Iron and biotin are supplements that can help with dietary deficiencies related to hair loss.

Transplanting hair from one part of your scalp is another option that can help with thinning hair, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved some laser therapies to help with thinning hair and hair loss.

A lot more women struggle with hair loss than most people think, and if you’re trying to cope with it, we can help. Make an appointment with our team at Michigan Avenue Primary Care today to get the treatment you need. Call our office or schedule your visit online anytime.