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What are the reasons for hair loss in women?

Monday, 10 May 2004
Answered by: Dr. Rishi Parashar
Consultant Dermatologist,
Sir Ganga Ram Hospital,
New Delhi
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Q. I am a 23 years old woman. I am suffering from acute hair loss. My hair is not damaged or broken, but my roots have become very weak. I have tried all sorts of oils and shampoos, but the problem still persists, in fact it worsens if I use oil. My scalp is sensitive to touch. When I run the comb through my hair, the sensation is not pleasant. I get pain if someone touches my head.

A.  The most common type of hair loss seen in women is androgenic alopecia or female pattern baldness. It affects approximately one-third of all susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after menopause, although it may begin as early as puberty. Normal hair fall is approximately 100-125 hairs per day. Fortunately, these hairs are replaced. True hair loss occurs when lost hair is not regrown or when the daily hair shedding exceeds 125 hairs. Genetically, hair loss can come from either parent's side of the family. There are two different types of hair loss, medically known as anagen effluvium and telogen effluvium. Anagen effluvium is generally due to internally administered medications, such as chemotherapy agents, that poison the growing hair follicle. Telogen effluvium is due to an increased number of hair follicles entering the resting stage. The most common causes of telogen effluvium are:
  • Physical stress: surgery, illness, anaemia, rapid weight change.
  • Emotional stress: mental illness, death of a family member.
  • Thyroid abnormalities.
  • Medications: High doses of Vitamin A, blood pressure medications, Gout medications.
  • Hormonal causes: pregnancy, birth control pills, menopause.
  • Hair loss may also occur due to dieting. As you seem agonised by your hair loss, I am also including in my answer what I tell my patients over and over again. Lets go through the myths troubling women with hair loss:
  • Frequent shampooing contributes to hair loss.
  • Hats cause hair loss.
  • 100 strokes of the hairbrush daily will create healthier hair.
  • Permanent hair loss is caused by perms, colours and other cosmetic treatments.
  • Shaving ones head will cause the hair to grow back thicker.
  • Standing on ones head will cause increased circulation and thereby stimulate hair growth!
  • Dandruff causes permanent hair loss.
  • There are cosmetic products that will cause the hair to grow thicker and faster.
  • Stress causes permanent hair loss.
  • Hair loss does not occur in the late teens or early twenties.
  • Hair loss affects only intellectuals.
  • Hair grow better by regular application of hair oil. So, I hope you will figure out what causes your hair loss, and consult a dermatologist to find the cause in your case.
  • A.  The most common type of hair loss seen in women is androgenic alopecia or female pattern baldness. It affects approximately one-third of all susceptible women, but is most commonly seen after menopause, although it may begin as early as puberty. Normal hair fall is approximately 100-125 hairs per day. Fortunately, these hairs are replaced. True hair loss occurs when lost hair is not regrown or when the daily hair shedding exceeds 125 hairs. Genetically, hair loss can come from either parent's side of the family. There are two different types of hair loss, medically known as anagen effluvium and telogen effluvium. Anagen effluvium is generally due to internally administered medications, such as chemotherapy agents, that poison the growing hair follicle. Telogen effluvium is due to an increased number of hair follicles entering the resting stage. The most common causes of telogen effluvium are:
  • Physical stress: surgery, illness, anaemia, rapid weight change.
  • Emotional stress: mental illness, death of a family member.
  • Thyroid abnormalities.
  • Medications: High doses of Vitamin A, blood pressure medications, Gout medications.
  • Hormonal causes: pregnancy, birth control pills, menopause.
  • Hair loss may also occur due to dieting. As you seem agonised by your hair loss, I am also including in my answer what I tell my patients over and over again. Lets go through the myths troubling women with hair loss:
  • Frequent shampooing contributes to hair loss.
  • Hats cause hair loss.
  • 100 strokes of the hairbrush daily will create healthier hair.
  • Permanent hair loss is caused by perms, colours and other cosmetic treatments.
  • Shaving ones head will cause the hair to grow back thicker.
  • Standing on ones head will cause increased circulation and thereby stimulate hair growth!
  • Dandruff causes permanent hair loss.
  • There are cosmetic products that will cause the hair to grow thicker and faster.
  • Stress causes permanent hair loss.
  • Hair loss does not occur in the late teens or early twenties.
  • Hair loss affects only intellectuals.
  • Hair grow better by regular application of hair oil. So, I hope you will figure out what causes your hair loss, and consult a dermatologist to find the cause in your case.
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