An estimated 1 in 4 females will suffer with hair loss by the age of 35. For many, the cause is linked to sudden hormonal changes that follow puberty or precede menopause. For others, hair loss may occur as a result of high stress situations like divorce, pregnancy, or chronic illness. No matter what the cause, most women have trouble admitting that they are experiencing hair loss (i).
Two leading causes of female hair loss include Female Pattern Hair Loss (known by the medical name androgenetic alopecia) and Telogen Effluvium. Androgenetic alopecia causes hair loss at the top and sides of the head and may be seen at a variety of ages. Telogen Effluvium typically occurs during the latter years of life and, as the name suggests, happens when hair follicles enter into the telogen (resting) phase prematurely. This disrupts the natural hair growth cycle, causing visible signs of thinning, shedding, or balding.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
- Medical Name: Androgenetic Alopecia
- Typically occurs at an early age, for example during the late teenage years or early 20’s.
- Female Pattern Hair Loss may also manifest itself following a period of hormonal change (i.e. post-menopause).
- Affected Areas: Frontal and parietal (sides) of the scalp. Hair density is usually preserved in the occipital scalp, or the lateral area that extends from ear-to-ear in the rear of the head. Thickness is also preserved in the frontal hairline.
- What to Look for: When styling the hair, the central “part” becomes wider over time, making more and more scalp visible when the hair is parted.
- Medical Name: Telogen Effluvium
- Predominantly seen in women who are in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.
- Telogen Effluvium may manifest itself as excessive thinning, shedding, or balding that may happen abruptly.
- Recent studies have linked sudden trauma, namely stress, with the onset of Telogen Effluvium (ii).
- What to Look for: Many women notice a decrease in ponytail volume when the hair is pulled back / tied.
What Causes Telogen Effluvium?
The most commonly documented causes of Telogen Effluvium include:
Stress. “There does indeed seem to be a link between stress, a change in hair follicle biochemistry, and more hair follicles entering a telogen resting state,” reports the American Hair Loss Association (iii). Several studies support this idea, demonstrating that high levels of stress may cause individual hair strands to prematurely enter the “telogen resting state” before eventually falling out. Examples of such stressors include ongoing chronic illness, divorce, or other significant life events in which the outcome is uncertain or feared.
Physical Trauma. Similarly to stress, abrupt episodes of physical trauma may also send hair follicles into a telogen resting phase. Examples include car accidents and other events that induce a forceful shock to the body.
Prescription Medications. Hair loss may be the side effect of certain medications like antidepressants (and other mood altering drugs), acne medications, and a variety of other prescription drugs. For a more comprehensive list, please reference this article on prescription drugs that cause hair loss.
Nutritional Deficiency. Hair needs certain vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in order to grow naturally. For example, deficiencies in vitamin A, iron, or protein may inhibit the normal and healthy development of hair. Learn more about the foods for healthy hair, and proactively prevent hair loss due to nutritional deficiencies.
Seek an Evaluation with a Team You Can Trust
If you suspect you are suffering with Female Pattern Hair Loss or Telogen Effluvium, you are not alone. Nearly 25% of all females experience signs of hair loss by age 35, and most cases are treatable. To learn more about the option that is best for you, schedule an appointment with the Hair Transplant Institute. Our team is comprised of South Florida’s finest hair transplant surgeons, nurses, microscopists, and technicians, each of whom understand the challenges hair loss presents to personal, social, and professional life.
Visit the following page to learn more about advanced hair loss evaluations at the Hair Transplant Institute. Readers are also invited to call our front desk directly at 305-925-0222.
Sources for this article include:
(i) Perez, Sylvia. “Healthbeat Report: Strands of Stress.” 28 September 2012. Abclocal.go.com.
(ii) American Hair Loss Association. “Effluviums.” Americanhairloss.org.
(iii) See above.