Are There Any Risk Factors For Female Balding?
The majority of female hair loss cases (about 95%) are the result of Androgenetic Alopecia. As you can probably derive from its name, this type of hair loss is genetic. In addition to genetics, there are several other risk factors for developing Androgenetic Alopecia. There are also a number of other kinds of female hair loss, however, that don't necessarily have a genetic basis at all.
This form of female hair loss (also known as Female Pattern Baldness) is more likely to occur after menopause. This is because Androgenetic Alopecia results when too much testosterone in the scalp is turned into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). You may be wondering why women would have testosterone in their scalp in the first place. Women would normally have testosterone in many places throughout their bodies, except for the fact that the majority of it is converted into estrogens. After menopause, women create much less estrogen, leaving more of their testosterone unconverted and able to be transformed into DHT.
Female balding can occur when hair follicles are subject to radiation or the chemicals used in chemotherapy. Chemotherapy and radiation target rapidly dividing cells for destruction. Unfortunately, tumors and hair follicles are both composed of rapidly dividing cells, causing hair to fall out during cancer treatment. There is good news, however: hair follicles resume their normal cell division after cancer treatment is ceased. In fact, many cancer survivors often have a thicker head of hair, or even hair of a different color, as hair regrows.
Women can also lose hair as the result of acute stress. Events like child birth, surgery, severe emotional stress (such as death of a family member), or a lupus flare can all cause temporary thinning or balding. Severe stress can temporarily rob the body of much of its nutrients, causing protein stores to be shifted from activities like growing hair to the production of stress hormones. Other forms of bodily stress which cause Telogen Effluvium include poorly managed diabetes, Hyper- or Hypothyroidism, anemia (low iron in blood), taking certain drugs (like those that lower cholesterol or thin blood), or low-protein diets. In general, bodily stress causes nutrients used for growing hair to be sent to other places in the body.
Other Diseases or Infections that Cause Hair Loss
Scleroderma is a disease which causes skin to become tight and hard from excess collagen production. Hardened skin is less able to support hair follicles (hence why calluses don't grow hair). Women most commonly develop scleroderma between the ages of 40 and 60. Ringworm infection (which is actually caused by a fungus, not a worm) can also cause localized hair loss. This fungus essentially eats a protein called keratin within skin, causing skin to become scaly and reddened. As mentioned earlier, hardened skin is not good for growing hair. While most female hair loss cases are the result of Androgenetic Alopecia and therefore cannot be prevented. However, there are many natural treatments available for stimulating hair regrowth in addition to proper nutrition.
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