Causes of Hair Loss in Women

There are a number of women that will experience hair loss that is not related to genetic factors. This hair loss is not female genetic hair loss or androgenic hair loss. Hair loss can be attributed to a number of factors that include medical conditions, medications or prescriptions, medical treatments, hair styling, and aging.

Medical Reasons for Hair Loss in Women:

There are a number of medical reasons that must be ruled out when assessing a woman for diffuse pattern hair loss. Some reasons that women may experience widespread hair loss may include:

Obstetric and gynecologic conditions:

  • post-partum hormone changes
  • post-menopausal hormone changes
  • ovarian tumors

Iron deficiency (anemia)

Thyroid or hormone imbalance

Connective tissue disorders such as Lupus or scleroderma

Nutritional deficiencies:

  • Extremely low calorie diets
  • Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia nervosa
  • Insufficient protein intake
  • Deficiencies in essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6 or Zinc
  • Malabsorption Malabsorption syndromes
  • Excessive Vitamin A intake

Stress from surgical procedures or anesthesia

Severe emotional stress

Dermatologic conditions that affect the scalp such as Discoid Lupus or Lichen Planus

Autoimmune disease such as Alopecia Areata

Infections

Burns

Medications That Cause Hair Loss in Women

There are a large number of medications that may cause hair loss in women. These medications cause a condition known as “telogen effluvium.” In this condition, the hair is prematurely pushed into the “telogen” or resting phase of hair growth and then shed. If the cause of the hair loss is caused by medication, and the medication is stopped, the hair loss can be reversible. Unfortunately, medications can be overlooked as a cause of the hair loss and it can be attributed to androgenic related or female genetic hair loss and not treated. Some medications that may cause hair loss in women include:

Seizure medications

  • Dilantin

Anti-coagulation medications (blood thinners)

  • Coumadin/Warfarin
  • Heparin

Gout Medication

  • Colchicines
  • Alopurinol

Blood pressure medications

  • Beta-blockers (such as Inderal)
  • Some diuretics

Anti-inflammatory drugs

  • Prednisone

Medications that lower cholesterol and other lipids

Mood Altering Prescription Medications

  • Lithium
  • Tri-cyclic anti-depressants such as Elavil
  • Prozac

Thyroid or hormone replacement medications

Some oral contraceptives

Diet pills

Vitamin A

Medical Treatments That Cause Hair Loss in Women

Chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments can cause a type of hair loss called “anagen effluvium”. This occurs when hair that is in the growth phase of the cycle “anagen phase” is suddenly lost. In these cases, widespread hair loss occurs all over the head, rather than in a specific pattern. Hair can resume its normal growth when treatment is ended, however hair characteristics, including its thickness, may not be the same as prior to treatment. Treatments that can cause anagen effluvium in women include:

Chemotherapy

  • Intravenous Chemotherapy
  • Oral Chemotherapy

Radiotherapy/Radiation Therapy

  • Head and neck region

Hair Styling That Can Cause Hair Loss in Women

When the hair is continuously being pulled on, by either the frequent wearing of a hairstyle such as a tight bun, hair extensions, tight braiding or hair pieces, a condition known as traction alopecia can occur. If the strain on the hair follicles persists for an extended period of time, hair loss can be permanent. The first treatment option is to wear the hair loose and eliminate any hair accessories, styles, or extensions that cause continuous pulling on the hair. Hair restoration procedures may be performed in areas that have sustained prolonged damage, such as around the hairline.

Age and Hair Loss in Women

As we age, we notice that our hair may become finer, thinner, and that our total volume of hair diminishes. When hair loss occurs as a result of aging, this is known as senile alopecia. This is a natural phenomenon and may affect individuals differently, based on their genes and heredity.