Female hair shedding can have a lot of causes including genetics, lifestyle and hair styling.
The main factors related to female hair shedding are described below.
Diet can contribute to hair shedding due to:
- Protein deficiency: keratin is a protein that is the main component of hair. Protein deficiency can cause fragile and brittle hair.
- Vitamin: vitamins A, D, E, biotin and other B complex vitamins are necessary for maintenance of hair health.
- Minerals: iron, zinc, selenium
Iron deficiency is a common cause of female hair shedding.
Women are more prone to develop iron deficiency because of menstrual periods and deficient dietetic iron replacement.
Some medicines can lead to hair shedding:
- Oral isotretinoin: used in acne treatment
- Anorexigens: amplify nutritional deficiencies caused by strict weight loss diets.
- Antidepressants, epilepsy drugs, contraceptives.
The imbalance caused by introduction, change or cessation of contraceptives can lead to female hair shedding.
The hair shedding occurs regardless of the contraceptive presentation: oral, injectable, implant, ring, patch or intrauterine device (IUD) with progestogen.
The sudden hormonal changes after delivery often cause hair shedding.
There is a well-balanced hair rate in different phases of the hair cycle, including the growth and shedding phases.
During the pregnancy, there is a rise of the female hormones that causes hair to remain longer in the growth phase.
As long as the hair keeps growing in this phase, there is less hair that advances to the shedding phase, which means less hair shedding during the time of pregnancy.
On the other hand, when this effect caused by female hormones is interrupted after delivery it causes intense postpartum hair shedding.
Besides estrogen and progesterone, there are other hormones which can cause female hair shedding.
- Thyroid: both hyper and hypothyroidism are common causes of hair shedding.
- Androgens: male hormones such as testosterone, its precursors and metabolites induce hair shedding. They can also aggravate female pattern hair loss.
- Cortisol: hormone associated with stress. It can cause hair shedding directly or indirectly.
General health conditions
Hair usually reflects the general health condition.
Some chronic diseases can cause female hair shedding:
- Severe acute conditions such as zika, dengue or diseases which need hospitalization.
- Chronic illness: Lupus, hepatitis, syphilis, among others.
- Complex surgeries with general anesthesia and hospitalization.
There are some habits which can contribute to excessive hair shedding:
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Hair styling
Incorrect use of hair dyes, blow dryer, hair extensions, relaxing or straightening hair methods can damage the hair shaft, causing breakage and shedding.
There are habits which can cause scalp inflammatory conditions such as seborrheic dermatitis.
Some examples are:
- Not wash hair frequently
- Rinsing the hair with hot water
- Ponytails, buns or sleeping with wet hair
- Frequent use of gel or styling greasy products
Hair styling products and procedures can damage the hair shaft, which can make the hair fragile and prone to breakage.
Some agents involved in hair breakage are:
- Chemical products such as relaxers, bleaching agents and hair dyes.
- Frequent use of hair straighteners or hot hair dryers.
- Hair extensions
Female pattern hair loss
Female pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a genetic condition in which hair becomes progressively thinner.
Female pattern hair loss is also characterized by diffuse hair shedding.
The mechanisms involved in female pattern hair loss are not completely understood yet, but there is evidence of participation of both male and female hormones.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder in which there is an attack of hair by the body´s own defense cells.
The hair shedding is usually intense, with a sudden onset and rapid progress to patchy hair loss areas.
Alopecia areata can affect any hairy area of the body, including eyebrows and eyelids.
Although the patchy presentation is the most common pattern of alopecia areata, there are also forms of diffused hair shedding.
Alopecia Universalis is the most extensive form, which is characterized by hair shedding on scalp and the whole body.
Cicatricial alopecia is a group of disorders characterized by hair shedding followed by scar formation.
Once the scar forms, the hair loss is definitive.
The main causes of female cicatricial alopecia are traction alopecia and scalp inflammatory diseases such as:
- Lichen planopilar or its variant Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia
- Chronic Cutaneous Lupus Erythematosus or Discoid Lupus Erythematosus
- Hot Comb Alopecia, Follicular Degeneration Syndrome or Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia
- Folliculitis Decalvans
- Dissecting Folliculitis or Perifolliculitis Capitis Abscedens et Suffodiens
- Acne Keloidalis (nuchae)
Female hair shedding: What should you do?
According scientific data, hair shedding can be noticed by 60% of women with FPHL.
Female hair shedding can be avoided and controlled as long as it is promptly noticed and evaluated by a specialist hair doctor.
Doppio Clinic is headed by a hair loss specialist physician who leads a team of professionals prepared to help with your hair problems.
Make an appointment today to get information and advice about you hair loss.