Causes of Hair Loss in Women

Tamera Jackson by Tamera Jackson | Licensed since 2007
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This article was updated on: 10/05/2018

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Baldness is often associated with men, but hair loss in women and even children can happen as well. If you’ve ever wondered what causes hair loss and what you can do, here’s an overview on hair loss in women. 

Hair loss in women

A certain amount of shedding and hair loss in women is normal. According to the Mayo Clinic, you lose between 50 to 100 hairs each day. This type of hair loss in women isn’t usually noticeable because our bodies are constantly re-growing hair to replace the hair we lose daily.

However, sometimes you may feel like you’re losing more hair than usual. The Mayo Clinic defines baldness as “excessive hair loss from your scalp,” and hair loss in women may occur for a variety of reasons.

Symptoms of hair loss in women

According to the Mayo Clinic, signs of hair loss in women may include:

  • Hair shedding at the top of the head (hair loss in women usually occurs at the line where they part their hair or the top center of the head)
  • Hair loss that comes out in handfuls after bathing or combing
  • Scaly patches on the scalp
  • Hair loss over the entire body
  • Patchy bald spots in the scalp or eyebrows

What causes hair loss in women?

Hair loss in women can have several causes, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Hereditary factors
  • Certain conditions, such as androgenetic alopecia or alopecia areata
  • Hormonal fluctuations due to thyroid issues, pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause
  • Infections (such as ringworm)
  • Certain medication (such as those for cancer, depression, birth control)
  • Reaction to a specific, stressful incident, such as surgery, extreme weight loss, or an emotionally traumatic event

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), androgenetic alopecia is a common cause of hair loss in women and men. Also known as female-pattern baldness, the hair loss in women usually results in overall thinning, instead of a receding hairline, which is common in men with this condition. Androgenetic alopecia has been linked to a higher risk for polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), a hormone imbalance that can cause weight gain, irregular menstrual cycles, and excessive hair growth.

Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, is another common cause of hair loss in women. According to the NIH, alopecia areata causes your immune system to attack its own hair follicles, resulting in patches of hair loss or overall body hair loss in women.

Is hair loss in women worse at certain times?

According to a Harvard Medical School newsletter, hair loss in women and men is cyclical, with periods of hair growth and loss occurring during predictable seasons. A study following hair loss in women found that hair growth was more prominent in the summer, while hair loss was worse in the fall. So if you’ve ever noticed that you seem to shed more hair in the fall, it might not be your imagination! 

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