Why is my hair falling out? –
Hair Loss In Women, Causes and Solutions for Female Hair Loss Treatment
The most common form of hair loss in younger women: Chronic Telogen Effluvium (long term diffuse hair loss), is an increase in hair loss and decrease in hair thickness over a long period of time. You may have always seen excessive hair in the brush or shower and considered it normal.
It’s only when your scalp becomes visible or your ponytail thickness reduces you may ask ‘why is my hair falling out’ and start investigating – which is probably why you’re reading this now!
Approximately 30% of pre-menopausal women are affected by Female hair loss in the UK, so if you think your hair is thinning, you’re not alone! Stopping Female hair loss and regaining hair thickness, depends on establishing the true cause and dealing with it as quickly as possible.
Often combinations of problems contribute to female hair loss. Women are increasingly under greater stress: high-pressure jobs, juggling work and family life thus leaving less time to consider their own health and wellbeing. Stress ‘burns off’ vital nutrients such as B vitamins which are vital for good hair quality and growth. Thyroid problems, endocrine imbalances, yo-yo dieting, crash weight loss, vegetarian and low protein diets can all contribute to hair loss in women. Other nutrients including iron, zinc, copper, selenium, vitamin A and essential fatty acids are vital for hair health. There are countless hair supplements on the market today, however, we don’t recommend you attempt to design your own female hair loss nutritional program without the help of a qualified professional. You may waste time and money or cause further problems by using the wrong supplements.
One of the most common causes of hair loss in women, without doubt,
is low Iron stores. A large majority of the women who consult a Trichologist have below optimum Iron stores for good hair growth. A study conducted on 1000 women revealed 33% suffered female hair loss, 90% caused by low Iron stores and 10% caused by Genetic (female pattern baldness) or other factors.
GP’s are often unaware of exactly which blood tests to carry out for female hair loss, most opting for the Full Blood Count and Haemoglobin tests for anaemia. However, the most important blood test for a woman suffering female hair loss is the Serum Ferritin, a test for iron stores. Research has not established a link between low Haemoglobin and hair loss as they have with low Serum Ferritin. Once the Serum Ferritin level increases and reaches a certain trigger point – around 70ug/l, hair loss should decrease and hair growth improve. You may have already been prescribed iron tablets and not found an improvement in your hair but are you using them correctly or taking enough of the best form?
Low B12 – another cause of hair loss in women which is frequently missed by GP’s. It’s not a routine blood test and even when a person is tested for B12, if the result is borderline they will rarely be treated. The minimum level for B12 is around 180 ng/l however most healthy people have a level of around 500ng/l. Symptoms of low B12 often occur when blood level drops below 300 ng/l and include hair loss, breathlessness, lack of energy palpitations, bleeding gums, mouth ulcers, tingling in the hands and feet.
There are two types of B12 deficiency:
- Lack of dietary B12 – usually vegetarians and vegans. B12 is mostly found in animal produce rather than plants. Solution – increase dietary B12 or/and take a B12 supplement.
- Autoimmune – Antibodies to intrinsic factor prevent absorption of dietary B12. A blood test for intrinsic factor can be carried out to determine if your problem is dietary or autoimmune. If your problem is auto immune your GP will do further investigation to try to determine why it has developed. Treatment – lifelong B12 injections.
An experienced Trichologist can help you to get to the root of your problem and recommend the best course of action. Hair loss in Women is one of the most common problems seen at The Cotswold Trichology Centre.
Female Pattern Baldness
Androgenetic alopecia or female pattern baldness is the most frequent and often incorrect diagnosis made by Dermatologists, Doctors and often some Trichologists! I see women of all ages who have been misdiagnosed with female pattern baldness, (some as young as 20 )with none of the associated female pattern baldness symptoms. Most types of female hair thinning including female pattern baldness primarily affect the vertices (top of the scalp), which is why the diagnosis can be the subject of confusion. If your hair has thinned all over your scalp, including the sides and back, it is unlikely that your problem is Androgenic Alopecia or you may also be suffering from a secondary condition.
Women, like men can inherit baldness from their parents, this determines the distribution of the hair follicles affected. If you’re thinking “My mother and grandmother had thin hair – I am doomed!” You must also consider if your mother and grandmother had health issues or took medications which may have caused their hair thinning, rather than residing yourself to female pattern baldness.
Androgenetic Alopecia in women is due to an increase in androgens (male hormones), following a decrease in female hormones during or following the menopause, in combination with a predisposed sensitivity of the hair follicle to androgens. Some women suffer androgenic alopecia before the menopause due to polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Androgenetic alopecia in women does not normally result in extensive baldness as with men, but the hair density can become quite poor.
The associated symptoms of androgenic / androgenetic alopecia in women can help determine the diagnosis. In younger women supposedly diagnosed with female pattern baldness one would expect to see some of the symptoms below:
- Excess facial hair growth.
- Excess body hair growth.
- Oily skin / hair.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
If you have none of the above it’s unlikely you have this condition. Tests for PCOS and high testosterone levels can be carried out by your GP to aid the differential diagnosis. It is also possible to have female pattern baldness and Chronic Telogen Effluvium at the same time.
An experienced Trichologist can help you to get to the root of your problem and recommend the best course of action.
Call us today on 01386 421703 for an appointment.