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Female Hair Loss Causes

by Dean Anderson

Hair fall is a normal part of everyday life. Whether it’s a few strands on the pillow, a knot in your brush, or a thick swirl lurking near the drain, women lose their locks in all imaginable places all of the time. Hair loss experts estimate healthy female scalps shed 50-150 follicles a day, and sometimes more in natural “molting” periods such as autumn. This can make it hard to discern exactly how much hair fall is normal and when it’s a sign of something more serious. That’s why we at have composed a brief guide to the most common sources of female hair loss, their symptoms, and basic treatment options.


While it’s common—and often comical—to discuss men going chrome-domed in their later years, less attention is paid to the similar processes in women. Experts have found that females experience androgenetic alopecia, or “pattern baldness,” at the same rates as men; however, for women it manifests as extensive thinning rather than a full blown fallout. Although less severe in scope, progressive hair loss can be a devastating blow to a woman’s self-esteem. Early detection is key to minimizing follicle loss, but even later stages of androgenetic alopecia can be treated with advanced hair transplant techniques.

Symptoms & Treatment:

Hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia is diffuse and may not pull back the hairline as it does in men. Diagnosis sometimes involves parting hair down the middle and seeing if extra scalp is showing near the crown. Women can begin losing hair in their twenties, but the majority of females experience their hair loss after child birth or menopause, when the shifting hormones raise levels of the follicle-shriveling dihydrotestosterone within the body. Doctors usually prescribe a 2% solution of topical minoxidil (Women’s Rogaine) to stop the loss or hair transplant surgery for more advanced thinning.

Telogen Effluvium

Hair follicles follow a natural cycle of strand growth and followed by few months of rest and repair called the “telogen” phase. Because of this, it’s estimated that 10% of follicles aren’t actively growing hair at any given time. In cases of extreme physical or emotional distress—such as pregnancy, surgery, rapid weight loss, or divorce—the body sends up to 70% of follicles into the restive telogen mode early. The result is the sudden loss of whole clumps of hair, leaving the scalp patchy and exposed.

Symptoms & Treatment:

Hair loss caused by telogen effluvium usually occurs three to six months after a traumatic trigger event, and strands shed through the condition have tell-tale “club-shaped” bulbs at their root. The good news is that TE is temporary, usually dissipating in three months or less. The bad news is that there isn’t a whole lot to do in the meantime aside from shopping for cute head wraps and hats. Even if you suspect that telogen effluvium is to blame for your hair loss, pay your doctor a visit. He or she can confirm the diagnosis and see if any prescription medications such as antidepressants, anti-inflammatory drugs, or beta-blockers may be contributing to the loss.

Iron Deficiency

A variety of vitamins and minerals contribute to hair growth, but iron is particularly important for production of red blood cells, which bring oxygen to cells throughout your body. Lighter diets and menstruation put women at a higher risk for anemia than men, and one of the effects of extended iron deficiency is sparse hair loss.

Symptoms & Treatment:

Symptoms of iron deficiency include a pale complexion, headaches, difficulty concentrating, cold extremities, and extreme fatigue. Doctors can diagnose iron deficiency with by measuring your body’s ability to store iron in protein and red-blood cell count. Physicians recommend all women get close to 20 mg of iron a day from healthy foods such as red meat, beans, fortified cereal, seafood, and leafy greens. Once the body gets the iron it needs, your hair will bounce back.


The thyroid gland is located around the throat and plays a vital role in regulating your heart rate, metabolism, mood, and the growth of hair and nails. As much as five-percent of the US population have underactive thyroid glands or “hypothyroidism.” Unfortunately, the vast majority of sufferers are women—particularly those over 50—and many experience a range of symptoms including hair loss that spreads from the center of the scalp.

Symptoms & Treatment:

Those with hair loss related to hypothyroidism also suffer from low energy levels, depression, constipation, and unexplained or sudden weight gain. Doctors can perform a simple blood test determine whether your hair loss could be related to thyroid function. Those diagnosed can effectively manage the disorder and related hair loss through prescription medication, vitamin supplements, and dietary adjustments.

Dyes & Heated Styling

Ironically, many cases of female hair loss are stem from our obsession to keep our hair looking perfect every single day. Scorching hair into shape with flat irons and opting for drastic dye jobs both break down keratin proteins that give hair its strength. Basically, the more abuse your tresses take, the more likely it is to start thinning out.

Symptoms & Treatment:

Unlike other forms of hair loss, damage from styling usually results in strands without that club-like root, meaning hair is breaking down instead of falling out from the follicle. If you’re seeing hair loss of this type, it’s time to pump the brakes on your beauty regimen. Experts advise women to stay within three shades of their natural hair color when dying and set hair-primping gadgets at an effective yet follicle-friendly 350 degrees Fahrenheit for minimal damage. Most cases of chemical or heat-related hair loss will recover after a few months of gentler treatment, but long-term abuse can have permanent effects.

While the above guide may help you identify your hair loss culprit, it’s important that you get a diagnosis from a medical professional before taking action. If you’re interested in learning more about hair loss causes and diagnosis, contact us today. In a matter of minutes our friendly customer liaisons can schedule a private consultation with a hair loss specialist in a city near you!

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