Dealing with Hair Loss as a Woman

We all get worried when staring at a clump of fallen hair, or noticing that our parting seems to be growing wider! Sometimes this could be typical, as some hair shedding is part of a natural balance. In fact, losing up to 100 hairs per day is completely normal! However, when the balance is disturbed, more hair falls out and less hair grows in. Dealing with hair loss can be a big concern, often causing stress and affecting self-esteem, especially for women.

For many years Laila* struggled with hair fall. She tried every hair oil and home remedy such as dahi (yoghurt) with honey, egg masks, amla (gooseberry) paste and onion juice. She even bought hair loss shampoos and other over-the-counter topical treatments. Sadly, despite her best efforts to deal with her hair loss nothing seemed to work. Finally, she went to a dermatologist who told her the hair fall was due to hormonal imbalance. She was given medicines to help with reducing androgens (male hormones), and in 5-6 months her hair fall reduced, and she could see baby hairs grow back! Laila realized that with the right diagnosis you can control hair fall.

Here are a few common causes of Hair Loss:

  1. Hormonal Imbalance
    Women experiencing hormonal imbalances may suffer hair loss. While estrogen is the main hormone that women produce, testosterone and other androgens are also produced by them. An excess of androgens (which could be caused by an endocrine disorder, such as Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) can cause hair loss.

  2. Thyroid issues
    If the thyroid gland, which is at the front of the neck, produces excessive or insufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone, then the hair growth cycle may change. Do note that  if you have a thyroid issue, you will notice other symptoms along with hair loss, such as weight gain or loss and sensitivity to cold or heat.

  3. Nutritional deficiencies
    Any nutritional insufficiency often first shows up in our hair. It could be possible that nutrients such as iron, zinc, magnesium and proteins may be low or missing from your diet. The deficiency of vitamin D and B12 often causes hair loss.

  4. Stress
    Both physical and physiological stress can cause sudden hair loss as androgen levels may get raised. Childbirth can result in hair loss for a short duration after delivery. The causes of physical stress are often temporary, and the hair loss subsides as the body heals. Stress may also trigger scalp problems such as dandruff and disrupt eating habits, both of which lead to scanty hair.

  5. Hairstyling products
    Over-treated hair can lead to hair loss due to the chemicals found in dyes and styling products. Many shampoos contain Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) which has been proven to corrode hair follicles and impede hair growth. It is advisable to stick to natural shampoos and dyes. Certain styling of hair can cause hair loss when your hair is arranged in ways that pull on your roots, like tight ponytails or braids. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia.

Hair Loss Treatments:

  • Eat the right nutrients: Hair requires nutrients such as iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin A and vitamin B12. Take supplements, and load up on foods that fight hair loss like lean meats, leafy greens, nuts, lentils, and fish. Iron deficiency especially could be a factor if you are vegetarian, have a history of anemia, or have heavy menstrual bleeding. If you do have iron deficiency, taking a supplement may stop or reduce your hair loss.
  • There are medications available. But you should take them only after getting a professional medical opinion.
  • Treatments for hair loss such as hair transplants and light therapy are also options, but can be expensive.

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