What causes female hair loss and what to do about it

    What could be worse than female hair loss? You gaze at yourself in the mirror, appalled by how thin your hair looks now. Combing your hair with your fingers, you see several strands twist in between. As you look down, there are even more hair strands scattered on the floor. How many times have you been in this scenario?

    You've taken good care of your hair—what could be the problem? The American Academy of Dermatology estimates that around 40% of women experience obvious hair loss by age 40. Losing 50 to 100 hairs a day is normal, but not when you see significantly more. Female hair loss is a real concern, and it's a pressing issue for the majority of women.

    To better understand it, let's take a closer look at the common causes of female hair loss:

    1. Childbirth

    A lot of women swear they’ve had the best hair during pregnancy—only to find out that they will shed most of it after giving birth. The sudden rise in estrogen in the postpartum stage encourages new hair growth cycles, which sheds off the hair you grew during pregnancy. Just give it several months, and you will eventually recover from postpartum female hair loss.

    2. Protein deficiency

    Hair is made of keratin, a tough kind of protein. It makes sense that hair needs protein to grow and survive. You need to include enough protein in your diet to make sure your hair gets enough to look healthy and bouncy. Because you need new hairs to replace the ones that shed off, protein deficiency can lead to female hair loss.

    3. Medications

    The most notorious medications that cause female hair loss are chemotherapy drugs. But even simpler medications like anti-hypertensives, anticoagulants and lipid-lowering drugs cause some degree of hair loss. If you’re concerned about drug-induced hair loss, it is best to talk to your health care provider.

    4. Skin conditions

    Certain dermatologic conditions like dandruff or psoriasis cause scalp inflammation and itchiness. Scratching your head will only lead to hair loss. The good thing about dandruff is that it is easily treated—the trick is knowing what product works best for you, like a zinc shampoo. As for psoriasis, preventing flare-ups and restoring your scalp’s health is key to fighting hair loss. In both cases, you will need to work closely with a dermatologist to get your hair to grow back normally.

    5. Extreme stress

    Ah, this is perhaps the most common cause of female hair loss! And no—we’re not talking about a rough day at work or a bad night’s sleep. Stress from intense experiences like falling ill, getting a divorce, mourning the death of a loved one or a sudden move can make your body go haywire. Whether it’s physical, emotional or mental stress, your body releases the stress hormone called cortisol, which is attributed to hair loss.

    6. Overtreating your hair

    How many times have you straightened, permed or colored your hair in the past five years? These are chemical treatments that use heat to achieve a certain style or look, but they are extremely damaging to your hair. Over treating has its consequences. Chances are that you’re beginning to see its toll on your hair. Perhaps now is the time to let your hair rest and use natural, organic and light products that combat female hair loss.

    How disconcerting is it to see you hair shedding and falling off? Fortunately, female hair loss is usually treatable. The key is knowing what triggers it until you can pinpoint the exact cause—then you can work on treating it. Your hair should never be taken for granted—it’s called your crowning glory, after all.


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