hair loss facts

There are many reasons women loose their hair, hormonal imbalances, postpartum and stress, chemotherapy, prescription drugs, and disorders such as trichotillomania, just to name a few. 

But the most common type of hair loss among women is female pattern thinning, or Androgenetic Alopecia, the same as for men, but female pattern thinning manifests differently than male pattern thinning. 

Regardless of whether it is male or female pattern thinning, we can blame a chemical called Dihydrotestosterone or DHT.  DHT builds up around the hair follicle and eventually kills both the hair follicle and the hair.  The hair follicle’s resistance to DHT is genetic, so if there are others in your family with thinning hair, there’s a pretty good chance at some point you might experience the same. 

For women, the onset of menopause causes a drop in the production of estrogen and without estrogen to produce testosterone-blocking enzymes, testosterone can freely be converted to DHT on the scalp.  The result is a shorter hair growth cycle, finer hair, and hair loss. 

  • Of the 100,000 hairs on your head, you need to lose about half before it’s noticeable.  And when that point is reached, most of the time you are not the only one who notices the hair loss.

 

  • Losing 50-100 hairs a day is normal.  It is when they don’t grow back that things get worthy of concern.
  • Hair loss in women is much more common than people think.  About half of all women are affected by hair loss of some kind by age 50.

 

What is Hair?

Hair has two separate parts:  the follicle and the hair shaft.  The follicle lies below the scalp and produces the hair strand that you see growing out of your head.  The follicle is alive.  The hair strand is not, it is simply made up of dead cells that have no regenerative properties.

How Hair Grows

Hair grows from the follicle at an average rate of a half an inch per month.  Each hair grows for about 3 to 4 years after which it enters a “resting phase” (and then falls out.)  A new hair begins growing in its place anywhere between three weeks to three months later.  At any given time, about 85 percent of hair is growing and 15 percent is resting.

What is Androgenic Alopecia?

Androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss in both men and women. In men, this condition is also known as male-pattern baldness. Hair is lost in a well-defined pattern, beginning above both temples. Over time, the hairline recedes to form a characteristic "M" shape. Hair also thins at the crown (near the top of the head), often progressing to partial or complete baldness.

The pattern of hair loss in women differs from male-pattern baldness. In women, female-pattern hair loss, the hair becomes thinner all over the head, and the hairline does not generally recede. Androgenetic alopecia in women rarely leads to total baldness.
 

What is Alopecia Areata?

Alopecia Areata is spotty hair loss resulting in completely smooth patches about the size of a quarter or larger.  In some cases, Alopecia Areata can cause the complete loss of scalp hair (alopecia totalis) and complete loss of all scalp and body hair (alopecia universalis).  The cause of Alopecia Areata is unknown. It can occur at any age and affects males and females equally. However, for some patients, alopecia areata can resolve itself within 18 months.

What is Trichotillomania?

Trichotillomania is an impulse disorder that causes people to pull out the hair from their scalp, eyelashes, eyebrows, or other parts of the body, resulting in noticeable bald patches. Trichotillomania is estimated to affect 1% to 2% of the population, or 4 to 11 million Americans, 90% of them women.