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What Causes Thinning Hair In Women?

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 1 0

Hair Loss in Women

When people think of thinning hair or hair loss in general, they typically associate it with men and male pattern baldness. But the fact of the matter is that the same problem can affect women as well as men. The problem is that because women tend to place more emphasis on their appearance than men, it is usually incredibly frustrating. The first step to fixing the problem (because in most cases there is a solution) is to figure out the cause. Here are some of the most common thin hair causes for women.

What’s Normal?

Before we get into what can cause hair loss in women, it’s important to keep in mind that you will always shed some hair strands and this is completely normal. The average amount is between 50 to 100 strands each day but some people will lose more than others. If you are experiencing serious hair loss compared to this, you should probably talk to your doctor or take a look at some of the following causes to see if they are the source of the problem.

Tight Braids

Hairstyles

If you love wearing your hair in tight braids (or other tight hairdos), you may want to reconsider it and find a new look, at least a few times a week. When you pull the strands too tightly, the scalp becomes irritating, causing the hair to come out. The good news is that the solution is simple: just let your hair down or go for looser styles and it should quickly return to normal.

Damage

Some women tend to spend a lot of time styling their hair and making it look great. The problem with constant exposure to heat (such as the hair dryer, flat-iron or curling iron) or harsh chemicals (such as perms, relaxers, dyes, etc.) is that they can significantly damage your hair. This makes it much weaker and more susceptible to falling out. As with loss due to hairstyles, the good news is that if you change your habits (or simply bring them down a notch: always use a protector before using a hot styling tool), you should see your hair return to normal within a few months.

Stress

Women with Physical Trauma

Stress, both physical and emotional, are two more common reasons for hair loss in women. This can include anything minor such as a particular stressful lifestyle to something major such as the physical trauma from a car accident or surgery. This stress will cause your hair to go into shock, meaning more strands enter the shedding phase of the growth cycle. Like most other natural causes, your hair will grow back after your body goes back to normal so you shouldn’t be too concerned.

Alopecia Areata

This is one of the most common reasons that women will lose their locks in patches. With this problem, your body gets confused and attacks the healthy hair follicles, causing an area to fall out. Usually the hair will only fall out in areas and grow back quickly, between half a year and a year.

Genetics Plays a Role

Genetics

Just like in men, you will notice that hair loss in women is greatly linked to genetics. If your mom and grandma both experienced thinning hair or something similar, chances are good that you will too. Your best bet if it is in your genes is to take care and avoid causing damage to your scalp or strands so avoid over styling and tight hairstyles.

Childbirth

You may not want to hear it but one of the thin hair causes for women is giving birth. During pregnancy, your levels of hormones that keep your hair from falling out increase which means your locks get full. But after you give birth, the levels will go back to normal and you will lose that hair, maybe along with some extra. The good news is it will grow back, but it can take two years in some cases.

Childbirth Can Cause Hair Loss

Thyroid Health

Problems with your thyroid is sometimes one of the thin hair causes for women but if this is the reason, it is usually not the only symptom. When the thyroid isn’t functioning properly, it will affect the growth cycle of your hair and this can lead to the hair loss. But chances are that if you have no other symptoms (such as changes in weight and heart rate or sensitivity to cold), this isn’t the reason. You can always check with your doctor to confirm.

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) is another health-related cause for your locks to thin. This illness causes a hormonal imbalance which causes your hair to thin. While this might be the only symptom, PCOS can also cause acne, weight gain and ovulation problems.

Medications

Another possible culprit is medications. The most common one to cause this problem is the birth control pill and this is especially true if you have a family history of hair loss in women. Other medications that can lead to the same problem include those used to treat depression, arthritis, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Birth Control Pills

Cancer Treatments

It probably doesn’t need to be said because it is one of the most well-known causes of hair loss in women (and men), but cancer treatments are an important thing to keep in mind. If you are undergoing radiation or chemotherapy, the odds are good that you will lose at least some hair as the drugs attack healthy cells as well as harmful ones. The good news is that the hair will usually grow back afterwards.

Vitamin A

Most people don’t usually realize that you can take too many vitamins but all doctors will tell you that is the case. If you have too much vitamin A in your system, for example, you may notice your hair starts to thin. Keep in mind that the recommended daily value is 5,000 IU a day and supplements will contain anywhere from half of this amount to double it. Be careful when choosing your supplements or multivitamins and talk to your doctor about your levels.

Protein

Lack Of Protein

Another possible reason for your thinning locks is if you don’t have enough protein in your diet which is a big problem for vegetarians. This is because hair needs protein to work and when your body starts to ration out the protein, the hair tends to stop growing to conserve the protein for other uses. Simply increase your protein intake to get back your old locks. 

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