Hereditary hair loss in women

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, almost 30 million women in the United States of America have a hereditary hair loss condition. Also, a large number of women have experienced thinning or hair volume loss (diffuse hair loss), due to stress or some other health problems. Diffuse hair loss happens when the normal hair growth cycle is interrupted due to physiological or emotional stresses, irregular nutrition or endocrine imbalance.

The hair grows in cycles and every hair follicle passes through 10 to 30 cycles in its lifetime. Normal hair cycle consists of four phases: anagen phase (active hair growth), catagen phase (involution), telogen phase (resting) and exogen phase (releasing the dead hair). When the hair grows normally, every hair folicule goes through all the four phases independently. This way the density of our hair is stable, while some hairs grow, others are inactive or ending their natural cycle.

The most common type of the diffuse hair loss is telogen effluvium, in which the anagen phase of the hair follicle goes to the telogen phase too early, which results in a noticeable loss of hair volume. Telogen effluvium can have many triggers. Most often, those are physiological or emotional stress, various medical issues, irregular nutrition or taking medication.

Physiological stress can include surgical trauma, child labor, high fever, chronic diseases and also bleeding. Telogen effluvium due to physical strain will happen 2 – 4 months after the stress. Medical conditions that can cause difuse hair loss in women are diseases of the thyroid gland, liver problems, inflammatory intestine or kidney disease.

Irregular nutrition or diets that lead to the disbalance in vitamin taking or lack of minerals in the organism can also result in hair volume loss.

If medication is the cause of hair loss, then the hair loss phase begins around 12 weeks after ingestion and lasts as long as the medication is prescribed. Medication that is known to sometimes cause hair loss with women include contraceptive pills, androgen therapies, retinoids, beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, anticonvulsive medication and antidepressants.

Telogen effluvium can also be acute (lasting up to 6 months) or chronic, repeating (more then 6 months). The duration most often determines whether the trigger is acute or short-lived or chronic and permanent.

Anagen hair loss happens due to premature cessation of hair growth in the anagen phase or after a difficult metabolic disorder. Most often it is caused by chemotherapy or radiation, but can also come from a base disease and from alopecia areata or heavy metal poisoning.

If you notice a sudden reduction in hair volume, seek medical advice.

Even when the disease trigger is identified and cured, hair loss can continue up to 6 months, and full recovery of the hair volume comes only after 12 to 18 months.

More about hair decline and hair loss read here.