What Causes Women’s Hair Thinning?
While hair thinning is often associated with men, women are also experiencing this in high numbers. About 20% of women in the UK have said that their hair is getting thinner before the age of 50, and this number goes up to 65% after menopause. Here we will outline the differences between hair thinning and hair loss along with the reasons for it and the treatments that can be offered.
- Women’s Hair Thinning vs Hair Loss
- Reasons for Women’s Hair Thinning
- Treatment for Women’s Hair Thinning
Women’s Hair Thinning vs Hair Loss
Women’s hair loss and hair thinning are frequently used interchangeably when referring to the health of your hair. There is a distinct difference between loss and thinning, however. Hair loss in women, such as female pattern baldness, refers to the hair strands actually falling out from your scalp and detaching from their root. Hair thinning might visibly register as loss, but here the follicles are miniaturised instead of falling out.
The miniaturised follicles are thinner, shorter and lack pigment, but still remain in the growth phase. This means that the hair can appear almost invisible to the naked eye, however it is still present on the scalp. Over time, though, the follicle will stop growing and producing new hairs.
Hair Shedding Pattern
Compared to male thinning, the pattern is less distinct and can typically be more difficult to track. With female hair thinning, the hair will thin all over the scalp and can progress for decades more progressively.
This can appear as a widening of your hairline parting at the top of your scalp and spreading out in a Christmas tree pattern. If you try to tie your hair in a ponytail, it will feel less dense and require more twists to hold in place.
Similar to skin, as you age, your hair will lose its elasticity. This means that the hair will not be as strong and lack the ability to withstand harsh cosmetic treatments or hairstyles.
Reasons for Women’s Hair Thinning
Women’s hair can thin for a number of reasons. Some of the most common include:
- Genetics: Female pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) can result in the hair thinning as a result of your family history. The shrunken hair follicles can be observed with a biopsy to provide a diagnosis or with a general examination.
- Hormone levels: High and low hormone levels in the thyroid can result in the hair thinning. Blood tests with your GP should confirm if this is the cause. With menopause and PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome), the male hormones in the body increase, causing hair shedding to become more prominent.
- Autoimmune conditions: Diffuse thinning can be a symptom of a condition such as alopecia areata incognita, where the hair sheds suddenly and in an erratic pattern. This is because of the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking the hair follicles, causing them to weaken.
- Stress: If your body undergoes a stressful event, either because of a physical or emotional trauma, hair can shed as a reaction. Here, the body prioritises sending nutrients to your vital organs, over non-essential functions like hair growth. The hair is not supported to grow properly and can become weak.
Treatment for Women’s Hair Thinning
Scarring vs Non-Scarring
Before you’re able to receive treatment, it's important to classify if your hair thinning is scarring or non-scarring. Some hair thinning conditions, like wearing tight hairstyles for a long time, can cause scarring that destroys the follicles. Here the damage is irreversible and new hairs cannot grow naturally from the follicle again. Thankfully, many conditions that cause chronic hair loss do not result in scarring, meaning that the hair loss may be correctable.
Options for Treatment
Understanding the source of your hair shedding will provide you with the best care for your individual situation. That is why diagnosis and treatment go hand in hand when it comes to regrowing hair. Here are some of the most popular treatments for women’s hair shedding:
- Hair surgery: If you are experiencing long term hair shedding and are looking for a permanent solution, a hair transplant for women is the best option. By taking healthy hair follicles from the back of your head and putting them in places where your hair is shedding, hair grows stronger in these areas, offering more density and coverage. A hair transplant is also the only solution available for scarring forms of hair loss in order to restore hair in those areas.
- Topical medication: Treatments that are applied directly to the affected area, such as Minoxidil, have shown positive results in halting hair shedding. There are some risks are related with the solution though, including dryness, itching and unwanted hair growth on the face. Additionally, it cannot be used during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
- Prescription medication: While popular male oral medication Finasteride has not been okayed for treatment in women, Spironolactone can be prescribed. This diuretic has been shown to help with hair growth, but it can cause problems if you are already experiencing issues with your kidneys and adrenal glands.
- Supplements and diet: Hair shedding can also be the result of a poor diet or a nutrient deficiency. Your hair needs a variety of vitamins and minerals in order to grow healthily. Consulting your GP will let you know if you have a deficiency. Additionally, a balanced diet should help with maintaining a healthy hair care routine. In particular, Biotin & Keratin are well known to support the growth of your hair and thickens its structure, helping to combat hair shedding.
Women’s hair shedding presents differently to hair loss and needs its own treatment plan. It's important to diagnose the source of the shedding in order to correctly treat it. Whether it's because of genetics, stress or a medical condition, there may be different treatment options available to you.
Are you worried about persistent hair shedding? Then contact one of our experts today, and we’ll let you know if you are suited for a hair transplant. Benefit from a free hair analysis to learn more about how to get a full head of hair again.