It isn’t widely talked about, but hair loss in women is more common than we may think, with anecdotal evidence suggesting that hair loss in Australian women is on the increase.
There are two types of hair loss: long-term and short-term.
Long-term hair loss is caused by:
- mineral deficiencies, especially iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium or chromium
- medical conditions, such as thyroid disorders
- high amounts of copper or Vitamin A in the body
- poor protein intake
For some women, hair loss is a genetic problem. Hair thinning usually begins around the time of menopause or after a hysterectomy. At this time, a reduction in female sex hormones makes male sex hormones (androgens) more prominent, bringing about hair loss. Sometimes, genetic hair loss can be triggered by oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Short-term hair loss is usually temporary and can be a result of:
- stress on the body, such an operation, a fever, physical or a psychological trauma
- skin conditions, such as psoriasis, dermatitis.
What are your options in preventing hair loss?
The Australasian College of Dermatologists says the treatment for hair loss depends on the cause. Identifying and treating reversible conditions such as anaemia or mineral definciencies can often mean a complete recovery.
In some cases, HRT and other measures to prevent hormonal effects on hair follicles can be useful. If you have alopecia (a condition in which hair loss occurs in patches), aereata, an autoimmune disease, cortisone injections or topical creams may be prescribed. Antifungal treatments and antibiotics are also employed for hair loss as a result of certain infections such as tinea capitis or eczema.
Minoxidil 5 per cent (for example, Regaine) is the only topical product available to combat hair loss and is available over the counter.
Other treatments include hair transplant surgery or laser therapy for severe and irreversible hair loss.
Women who are worried about hair loss will be comforted to know that the damage can often be undone. Tony Pearce, a trichologist and registered nurse who specialises in female hair loss, says hair loss is usually reversible and can be complete within three months.
Pearce suggests the first thing to do when a woman experiences hair loss is to find a registered trichologist, who will identify the cause and treat it quickly and appropriately.
Find out more about hair loss in women at WebMD.