Health Topics

Healthy Living

November 2009
10 Reasons for Hair Loss in Women
Dr Rinky Kapoor
Hair, our crowning glory, has a great deal of social and cultural importance attached to it. All women desire beautiful hair - hair that would make them look and feel confident. But certain medical diseases, deficiency or improper hair care can result in unmanageable hair or excessive hair loss.

The range of hair salon services and beauty treatments for enhancing the appearance of the hair like highlighting, straightening, perming, colouring, ironing, extensions etc. is amazing and is in huge demand today, not to mention the wide array of Over The Counter hair care products. There is a lot of awareness and information available today about Trichology, the science of hair care, through the media and internet.

How Much of Daily Hair Loss is Normal
Scalp hair in women grows from the hair follicle at a more or less steady pace of half inch per month for two to six years. After this, there is a rest period during which it does not grow any more. Eventually it falls out. Usually within six months, a new hair grows in its place. On a woman's head at any point of time, about 85 percent of the hair is growing while 15 percent would be resting. The average scalp contains about one lakh hair follicles. This differs in women with different hair colours. On an average, a woman can lose 50 to 60 hairs a day and this is considered normal. Breathe easy now!

10 Reasons for Hair Loss
The condition when hair falls out of the follicles, but is not replaced by new hair is known as baldness. Baldness can range from thinning of hair over the entire head to hair loss at the crown or hairline, which again can be mild to moderate. The typical hair loss pattern in women is different from that of men.

Hereditary thinning
Most men experience this. However, lately it is being experienced by women too.

Hormonal imbalance
Hair loss is usually associated with genetic predisposition, ageing and levels of endocrine hormones, called androgens. Changes in the androgen levels have a direct relation with the production of hair. This is one of the reasons why pregnant women and women entering menopause find themselves with thinning scalp hair. Thyroid hormone fluctuations and menstrual irregularities are also important causes of hormone-related hair loss.

Normally when women deliver, many hairs enter the resting phase of the hair cycle. Within two to three months post delivery, the hair enters the hair fall phase again. The change in hormonal conditions during pregnancy has grave effects on the woman's hair and skin. The worse part is that even if your hair has not been affected during one pregnancy, it does not guarantee that you would not lose it during subsequent pregnancies. In fact, it is estimated that up to 50 percent of women are affected during later pregnancies and not the first one.

Improper hair care
Any chemical treatment to the hair, if done incorrectly without professional help, or treatments done repeatedly at frequent intervals can make the hair strands weak and cause breakage.

During infections like high fever, flu, typhoid, jaundice, malaria, kidney or urinary tract infections, the hair enters the resting phase. Excessive hair fall follows, but this shedding usually corrects itself. If there are scalp infections as well, hair fall will result.

Food habits
Many infections due to erratic food habits and eating out frequently result in hair fall, without any other symptoms.

Some prescription drugs can cause hair loss as a side effect in some people. Cancer treatments are notorious for causing hair fall since they stop hair cells from dividing, resulting in thinning and breakage of hair. This is however reversible after stopping the drugs. A few women experience hair loss on usage of birth control pills, but this is again temporary.

Sudden or extreme stress can cause hair loss.

Hair pulling
Some people develop habits like pulling their hair out (!), when nervous.

Low blood iron levels
This also affects the hair loss rate. Higher rate of hair fall is seen with lower blood iron levels.

Tips to Reduce Hair Fall
  1. Regularise your food intake.
  2. Increase your intake of proteins eg. skimmed milk, egg white, lean meat, dals, yoghurt etc.
  3. If your hair fall increases to a range of 50 – 150 hair per day, then increase your skimmed milk intake to 3 cups a day; also start taking vitamin supplements and follow a regular exercise routine.
  4. Increase the intake of green leafy vegetables and fruits.
  5. Use the right shampoo and conditioner for your hair.
  6. Avoid overdoing chemical treatments for the hair.
  7. If the hair fall is not controlled by the above measures, please seek the advice of an expert dermatologist before the damage becomes irreversible.
Hair and Lovely
A good trichology centre, should solve your hair problems and give exclusively designed hair treatments, like:
  • Analysis of the type and cause of hair loss is done by ultramodern imaging technology.
  • Skin biopsy of the scalp is performed by the dermatologist, if required.
  • Appropriate diet modification advice is given.
  • Medical treatment maybe prescribed in the form of oral tablets, special hair growth supplements and topical medication to be applied in the hair. Speciality consultations with endocrine (hormone specialist), psychologist, etc. would be advised, if required
  • Advice is given on appropriate hair care products to match the individual's hair requirements.
  • Advice on oil massage, deep conditioning treatments and anti dandruff treatments, is given if necessary.
  • Hair fall laser treatments: a series of medical salon hair treatments to stop active hair fall.
  • Hair regrowth treatments: a series of medical salon hair treatments to stimulate the weak hair roots to strengthen and regrow.
  • Anti dandruff treatments: for severe cases of dandruff.
  • Hair Mesotherapy: a series of injections of Hair Growth Factors in the scalp so that the medicine is directly delivered near the hair roots. The injections are very tiny and relatively painless. Dermatologists generally prescribe this therapy for severe hair loss cases and for faster recovery.
  • Hair transplant: non-surgical hair transplant is the latest state of the art method of natural hair transplant. It is much quicker, safer and much more effective than the older hair transplant techniques. Currently in India, this technique is available only at select clinics.
Dr. Rinky Kapoor is Consultant Dermatologist, Cosmetic Dermatologist and Dermato-surgeon, Institute for Aesthetic Surgery, at Apollo Health City, Hyderabad
  • The information on this site does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for medical care provided by a physician.
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