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Link Between Genetics & Hair Loss in Women

a woman holding a comb filled with hair

There are several types and causes of hair loss (alopecia). Hereditary hair loss runs in families and is very common and normal.

Causes of hereditary hair loss

Like your skin and nails, your hair goes through a fine cycle of growth and rest. Hair loss can happen at any time in the cycle.

There are basically 3 phases in a hair cycle:

In the first stage, your scalp hair is growing continuously and is called the anagen phase. In this phase, your hair grows around 1–2cm every month. About 90% of your hair is in this stage at any point in time. It usually lasts between 2–5 years.

The second stage is known as the catagen phase, which is when hair growth stops. About 1–3% of your scalp hair is in this phase at any point in time. It usually lasts for 2–3 weeks.

The third stage is called the telogen phase. This is a resting phase and it lasts usually between 1–4 months. About 10% of your scalp hair is in this phase at any point in time.

At the end of its resting stage, your hair goes through a shedding phase, which normally leads to the growth of new hair. When hair is shed, it's replaced by a new hair from the same hair follicle which is located just beneath your skin surface.

Male or female hereditary hair loss is generally caused by genetic or hormonal influences. It is also called androgenic alopecia as it is affected by the hormones called androgens. These are present in both men and women, but in different amounts.

Your risk of having hereditary hair loss increases if you have someone in your family who has experienced hair loss. Your genetic blueprint for hair loss will impact things like:

  • Your age when hair loss begins
  • how fast you lose hair
  • the pattern of hair loss

Female hereditary hair loss

Female hereditary hair loss is called female pattern baldness. It can impact women of any age but happens more commonly after menopause. It usually begins around the age of 30, becomes noticeable around the age of 40, and is very much noticeable after menopause. By the age of 50, at least one-fourth of women experience some degree of hair thinning.

It is also considered that female hereditary hair loss is influenced by genetics and androgen hormones, but the link is not as strong as in male hereditary hair loss.

In female genetic hair loss, finer hairs with less colour are produced, and hairs in the telogen phase fall out very easily.

Other forms of hair loss

Hair loss that is not hereditary seems to be abnormal. It may be caused by:

  • pregnancy
  • hormonal or other medicines
  • severe nutritional deficiencies
  • chemotherapy
  • autoimmune disorders
  • an underactive or overactive thyroid gland
  • scalp trauma, including reactions to hair care products and hair grooming techniques 
  • stress
  • a condition called trichotillomania which involves hair pulling

Symptoms of hereditary hair loss

The hair loss pattern is different in male hereditary hair loss from that in female hereditary hair loss.

Male pattern hair loss

In males, baldness generally begins with progressive thinning at the receding hairline, followed by the appearance of a thinned or bald spot on the crown of your head.

Female pattern hair loss

Women with hereditary baldness rarely develop any bald patches. Instead, you can find a general thinning of the hair, especially over the top of your head or crown, while maintaining a frontal hairline.

Treatment for hereditary hair loss

Losing your hair slowly is a part of the ageing process for most men and some women. Treatment is not usually required for this. However, hair loss that happens rapidly or early in life can be distressing. If you wish to slow down or stop hair loss, there are few treatments available for this.

Hair loss treatments include:

  • medicines like finasteride and minoxidil, both local and oral
  • nutritional supplements 
  • wigs, hairpieces or hair transplantation.

Hair loss that is caused by a temporary situation like illness, medication, stress or insufficient iron will stop when the cause is resolved

How to prevent hereditary hair loss? 

Hereditary hair loss is part of your genetics. While there isn't anything you can do to change your genes, there are certain things you can do that may help keep your hair healthy and strong for a longer time.

Dietary protein is important

Hair is made up of a kind of protein (keratin), the one found in fingernails and toenails. There are also a number of other chemical substances like calcium, copper, zinc and iron as well as a small quantity of fat in hair.

Everyone, regardless of age, should consume enough protein to maintain normal hair production. Protein is found in chicken, meat, fish, eggs, some cheese, dried beans, tofu, grains and nuts.

Be gentle with your hair

  • Avoid any tight hairstyles, like braids, buns or ponytails.
  • Avoid twisting, rubbing or pulling your hair.
  • Avoid hair lotions that are perfumed heavily.
  • Avoid excessive heat treatments.
  • Avoid a long time in the sun.

Home Remedies for Hair loss in women

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is considered one of the best natural remedies for hair loss. Aloe vera works to soothe and calm a damaged scalp, making a healthy environment for hair cells to replenish and flourish. To effectively use this natural treatment, simply massage pure aloe vera gel directly on your scalp, and rinse off after some time.

Rosemary oil

Essential rosemary oil has strong antiseptic properties that help to treat the flaky scalp, dandruff and infections—all of which lead to hair loss. It is also a natural hair loss treatment that acts as a potent stimulant if applied directly. Rosemary oil has good antibacterial and antioxidant properties, both of which can cause noticeable hair regrowth.

Coconut milk

Coconut is very well known for its moisturising abilities. And, one of the leading causes of hair loss is having a damaged scalp due to dryness. To naturally reverse hair fall caused by dryness and bring your hair follicles back to their good health, massage coconut milk into your roots and let it sit for 10 minutes a day.

Apple cider vinegar (ACV)

Hair loss can also be caused due to clogged hair follicles. To prevent or fix the clogged follicles, try rinsing your scalp with a mixture of ACV and water. This natural treatment for hair loss may work wonders to unclog pores and promote hair regrowth.

Take Away

If you’re facing hair loss, consider consulting a doctor or dermatologist. They’ll be able to find out what kind of hair loss it is and what could be the cause behind it.

Also, they will recommend and prescribe the best form of treatment. The sooner you receive the treatment, the faster you’ll be able to stop the hair loss — and possibly even regrow some of your hair.