Hair loss can be distressing – particularly for women. After all, the hair is often referred to as the ‘crowning glory,’ and anything that renders it les glorious is to be loathed and feared.
We naturally shed 50 – 100 hairs each day, but some women lose considerably more than this due to health issues. In many cases, significant hair loss is often the first indication of an underlying condition such as thyroid problems, diabetes or lupus, so continued hair loss should always be investigated. Here are just some of the causes of hair loss in women.
This is an autoimmune disease with no known cause, although it tends to run in families. Medical professionals believe the disease may occur due to the immune system suppressing the hair follicles. Hair is lost in round patches on the head and body, and, while the condition is often temporary, it can take some years for the lost hair to grow back properly. Alopecia aerata affects previously healthy people, and is often found in families where there is a history of asthma, eczema or diseases of the immune system.
Hair loss can be an indication that someone is suffering from lupus. Lupus affects the organs, and the skin is the biggest organ in your body. Rashes and inflammation in the scalp area can lead to hair loss, although it’s unlikely that you will lose all your hair, and it should grow back when the lupus is treated. However, because of the underlying disease, hair may not grow back as quickly as you’d like.
Hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism – that is overactive or underactive thyroid – can lead to hair loss. This is due to a defence mechanism in the body which shuts down activity in the hair cells to redirect the energy to other areas of the body where it’s needed most. Once you start treatment, the hair loss should slow down and eventually stop.
However, it should be noted that hair loss can be a side effect of some thyroid medication. Also, if you continue to suffer hair loss after diagnosis and treatment, it may be that your medication needs to be increased to balance your thyroid activity.
Diabetes is a hormonal condition that can result in hair loss. Diabetes affects the body’s normal metabolism, including the hair growth cycle. The hair may take longer to grow back than normal, or may never grow back at all. Diabetes also affects the circulation, and if the hair follicles don’t get all the nutrients they need for healthy growth, they’ll stop growing and may even die off.
While hair loss is distressing, when it’s caused by a disease, it can often be treated and cured, so don’t despair at the sight of your hair in the shower cubicle or on the pillow. Console yourself with the knowledge that it’s extremely rare for women to experience total hair loss due to disease. Usually, the hair loss is due to a hormonal problem, and once this has been rectified, the hair will grow back, even though it may take a while.