On any given day, 85 percent of our hair is in the "growth stage" which is one of 3 stages our hair goes through. The growth stage can last from 2 to 6 years with hair growing an average of one-half inch per month. At the end of this point, our hair will enter a "transition phase" for one to two weks and is then shed in the "resting phase" - which is where the 40 to 100 hairs lost per day come in.
Baldness occurs when hair falls out but new hair does not come in to take it's place.
So why does hair loss in women occur?
Genetic Hair Loss (androgenetic alopecia)
Nearly 1/3 of all women will experience some form of genetic hair loss.
Family history can be an indicator of whether or not a woman will suffer from some degree of genetic hair loss. Women with older mothers, aunts and grandmothers with thinning hair are more likely themselves to have female pattern hair loss.
Women do not lose hair the same way their male counterparts lose hair. In women, the frontal hair line will remain, but the hair loss will be observable as a general thinning of the hair on the top and front of the head. This hair loss begins at the crown and temples, and then slowly continues to lose more hair until both the frontal bald areas and crown bald areas almost meet each other.
The "male" family of hormones known as androgens have been established by researchers as the culprit for androgenetic alopecia in both men and women. Women have these "male hormones" - but in smaller amounts. When these amounts increase due to menopause, aging or other factors, it can cause what is known as genetic hair loss, female pattern hair loss or androgenetic alopecia. Besides an increase in androgens, many women might be more "sensitive" to the male hormone, even if it is in normal amounts.
Non-genetic (telogen effluvium) causes of hair loss in women:
When female hair loss can be answered by genetics, hormones and aging - the next step in treatment can be clear. However, when non-genetic causes are at the root of your hair problem, only a doctor can make an accurate diagnosis and prescribe the best course of treatment. Women, much more then men, seem to be susceptible to the non genetic causes of hair loss (external factors).
Other tests used to determine the cause of hair loss can include examing hair samples under a microscope to determine breakage or physical damage. A blood count, including hematocrit and hemoglobin can determine if you have a nutrional deficiency including iron levels.
Iron deficiency in women has been shown in several clinical studies to be a frequent cause of hair loss in non-menopausal women, 35 to 50.
Besides using harsh chemicals on the hair and scalp, more then 300 drugs have been identified as a possible cause of hair loss as a side-effect.
Other causes of non-genetic hair loss include, but are not limited to:
FIG. SOURCE: LYNN DRAKE, M.D.
Treatment options for women with hair loss
The good news is that hair loss caused by external, non genetic causes can be reversed in most cases. For example, hair loss due to iron deficiency (anemia) can be reversed when iron levels are raised. Never try to self-diagnose your hair loss by attributing it to non-genetic causes. Always seek the advice of a doctor with any hair loss problem you might face.
The anti androgen pill Propecia (finasteride) is not indicated for women. However, your doctor might prescribe other anti-androgen drugs that may include: spironolactone, cyproterone acetate, or flutamide.
Hair transplant surgery for women, in the case of genetic hair loss and traction alopecia, offers a permanent and hassle free solution. Women can also try minoxidil 2 percent formula as a topical solution. In clinical tests, minoxidil produced new hair growth in varying amounts in 6 out 10 women in the study.
And finally, wigs can offer an instant solution to thinning hair loss in women. Today's wigs are very advanced and are produced in a wide variety of shapes and colors constructed with both synthetic and natural hair fibers.