Alopecia in Women: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

a woman is holding a comb filled with broken hair

Alopecia in Women

Alopecia is a common autoimmune disease that causes sporadic hair loss. In the majority of cases, hair falls out in little patches around the size of a quarter. Hair loss is normally limited to a few areas, but it can grow more severe in certain cases. It can sometimes result in total hair loss on the scalp or, in severe cases, the entire body.

Medical issues, hormone changes, and stress could all be at blame. Tracing the root cause isn't always simple, but here are some options and what you can do.

There are four different types of alopecia

Alopecia is a term that simply means "hair loss." It's not contagious and has nothing to do with nerves. There are several varieties, each caused by something different, such as genetics, hair care methods, or anything else that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles.

  • Female-pattern baldness or hair loss caused by genetics or family history is known as androgenetic alopecia. Women's hair loss shows as overall thinning rather than a receding hairline and distinct bald spots, whereas men's hair loss appears as a receding hairline and specific bald spots.
  • Alopecia areata is a hair loss condition that affects the head and body in patches. The appearance of one or more spherical bald patches, that might or might not overlay, occurs first.
  • Cicatricial alopecia refers to a group of illnesses that cause permanent hair loss as a result of scarring. Scar tissue restores the follicle as hair falls out.
  • Hair falls out as a side benefit of hairstyle methods in traumatic alopecias. After using hot combs, blow dryers, straighteners, or some chemicals to colour or straighten hair, the hair cuticle may break.

Hair loss symptoms

Hair loss can arise in a number of ways, depending on the condition. You may notice a sudden loss of hair or progressive hair shedding over time. Keeping a diary can help you note any changes you see or symptoms you encounter, as well as look for patterns.

  1. Overall thinning is one of the indications. The most frequent type of hair loss is gradual thinning on the top of the head. Both men and women are affected. While men perceive a receding hairline, women see a broadening of their portion.
  1. Bald spots - They can be round or spotty in appearance. They are frequently seen on the scalp and resemble coins in size. Prior to the hair falling out, your skin may become uncomfortable or irritated.
  1. Hair in clumps. Hair loss can happen suddenly, especially after emotional or physical trauma. Hair may fall out quickly when being washed or combed, resulting in overall thinning.
  1. The completeness of loss of hair - Hair loss can occur rapidly and all over your body in various medical settings, notably with medical treatments like chemotherapy.

Causes of hair loss

Hair loss is caused by a variety of medical illnesses, including hormonal imbalances like thyroid difficulties, scarring from skin infections like ringworm, and immune conditions like celiac disease, in which the immune system attacks itself.

Women's hair loss can be caused by a number of conditions, including

  • hypothyroidism
  • hyperthyroidism
  • Hodgkin's disease 
  • hypopituitarism
  • Hashimoto's disease
  • Lupus erythematosus 
  • Addison's disease 
  • celiac disease 
  • Ringworm lichen planus
  • scleroderma
  • trichorrhexis invaginata 

Treatments for hair loss

  • Stress-related hair loss or hair loss caused by hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause may not require therapy. Instead, the weight reduction will most likely come to a halt once the body has adjusted.
  • Unless the shortage is caused by an underlying health condition, nutrient deficiencies rarely require medical therapy beyond supplementation. Furthermore, any medical disorders that cause hair loss should be treated as a whole, rather than just the symptoms.
  • The most common type of alopecia areata treatment is corticosteroids, which are powerful anti-inflammatory drugs that can inhibit the immune system. The most common routes of delivery include local injections, topical ointment application, and oral administration.
  • Other medicines that can be advised to enhance hair growth or affect the immune system include minoxidil, anthralin. Although some of them may help with hair growth and restoration, they will not prevent the formation of new bald patches.
  • Some research back up the use of photochemotherapy as a viable option for patients who are unable or unwilling to undergo systemic or invasive medicines.
  • Surgery

Hair transplant surgery involves taking sections of the scalp with hair attached from one part of the scalp and transplanting them to areas of baldness. Hair transplants aren't commonly used to treat female pattern baldness because women's hair loss is typically distributed and low in volume, rather than concentrated bald areas.

Home remedies

Gently massage with onion or garlic juice, iced green tea, almond oil, rosemary oil, honey, or coconut milk.  Some people use alternative remedies like acupuncture and aromatherapy.

Take Away

If you notice you're losing more hair than you would otherwise, find out what's causing it and start treating it as soon as possible. While over-the-counter drugs like minoxidil may prevent hair loss, it's crucial to see a doctor because other health concerns can also cause hair loss.