Monday, April 09, 2007

For Women: Help Doc! I am losing my hair

Hair loss (Alopecia) in women is often more devastating than men. While society can accept balding men, it does not offer the same courtesy to women. Hollywood may still have leading men like Sean Connery, but I can't remember ever seeing a bald lady superstar.

There are many reasons why women lose hair. The most important thing is to understand the reason for the underlying hair loss. Some hair loss is reversible while others are not.

Here are some interesting facts about hair
  • We produce around 1km of hair per month
  • There are on average 100,000 hairs on our heads
  • About 50-100 hairs are shed everyday
  • Hair that is shed takes 3-5 years to replace
  • At least 25% of hair must be shed before we notice the hair loss
  • Abnormal shedding is when the hair clogs up the shower drain or you see clumps of hair on the pillow
There are many different causes of hair loss in women

Androgenetic Alopecia (Inherited hair loss)

This is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women. By the age of 60, 50% of women would have noticeable hairloss. This is also caused by male hormones (Women do produce some male hormones). The pattern of hair loss is different from the men. Women do not lose their frontal hairline and the hair loss affects the crown of the head (the top). There are treatments available for this form of hair loss but it is controversial and it is best to discuss this with your doctor.

Alopecia Areata (Patchy hairloss)

In this type of hair loss, women (and men) may find that there is one patch of clean normal scalp surrounded by normal hair. It looks as if the barber accidentally shaved off the hair on that part of the scalp. This condition usually recovers spontaneously after 12 months, but there are some medications and treatments which may help to shorten the recovery process

Diffuse Alopecia (Universal hair loss)

Sometimes severe stress can cause hair loss. Classically this type of hair loss is seen in women after pregnancy. It usually occurs 2-4 months after the stressful event. Aside from giving birth, other events such as severe illness or surgery, accidents, severe dieting and weight loss etc can also cause this form of hair loss. The good news is that spontaneous recovery can be expected in 6 months. Medications such as minoxidil can be used to help accelerate the process.

Certain medications can also cause hair loss. The obvious ones are the drugs used to treat cancer. The less obvious ones are drugs used to treat gout, gastric pain, worms, arthritis etc. You should check with your doctor if you suspect that your hair loss is caused by a certain drug.

Other Conditions

There are also a number of medical conditions that can cause hair loss such as hypothyroidism, anaemia, polycystic ovarian syndrome etc. Your doctor would be able to confirm the diagnosis by doing blood tests and other investigatons.

The bottomline

It is important to get to the root (pun intended) of the problem. Understanding the cause of the hair loss is the most important first step in treatment. There are some medications available from your doctor that can treat hair loss. So it is important to seek expert medical opinion before seeking other treatment options for your hair.


Murtagh, John Patient Education 4th Ed 2005 McGraw Hill Australia


Carmen said...

My prob isn't hair's hair breakage. And no shampoos advertised to reduce breakage worked!! :(

Dr Leslie said...

You might need to do a blood test to check for certain conditions. Check with your GP

Carmen said...

oo...serious ah...? kk, thanks for the advice. :)

Joycelyn said...


I am 20 this year and seem to be losing quite alot of hair around the top area of my head. I have a few pictures which i can send to you.

It started happening recently about 4-5 months ago.

Am very worried about it. What can i do?



Dr Leslie said...

You can send your pics to and I will have a look at it

Unknown said...

I've been experiencing hair loss on my forehead. My dermatologist gave me diluted cortisone injections once a month for 5 months as well as a topical I used each evening. I am not doing either any more. Now my forehead has indented and I had tingling on the right side of my face which has disappeared. The derma says the indent should go away in time. What do you think? I am seeing a specialist later this month but researching as much as possible before that appt. Thank you for any input you can provide. Mary

Anonymous said...

In order to prevent hair loss it is necessary to treat the threat of hair loss is to take care of your hair while it is healthy. Make sure that you
# Have a balanced diet rich in iron and protein.
# Take raw vegetables, fresh fruits, salads, green leafy vegetables regularly.
# Wash hair twice weekly with a light shampoo.
# Reduce anxiety, stress and sleeplessness.
# Check for infections of scalp.

You can avoid hair loss with things like changing your diet, removing stressful points in your life, applying herbal remedies etc.

Anonymous said...

Female hair loss can be very depressing. A woman's hair is considered her crowning glory and losing it will likely take its toll, not just on her appearance, but also on her frame of mind. Management of this condition should include a psychological assessment and emotional support should be provided by the people who have a close relationship with the individual involved.

tarun said...

Many women are facing hair loss problems all over the world. The natural solution of hair loss is surgery.

Meihua said...

hi, been losing much-more-than-usual amount of hair since my 2nd child turned 3 months old. as mentioned in the your blog entry, I could be having universal hair loss. however the amount of hair dropping is worrying me especially when colleagues told me the patches seemed to be more visible. what should I do? should i wait till baby turn 6 mths (i.e. in July)? or seek GP advise?

Dr Leslie said...

Have it checked out by your doctor. Scalp problems or hormonal problems might be an issue. You may need a blood test to rule out certain conditions. A prescription of Minoxidil might also help.

Anonymous said...

High School is when my hair started shedding a bit but it never became that serious until recently and I can really notice my hair thinning out. I know that an iron deficiency can cause hair loss and I have been taking iron supplement pills but it doesn't seem to be working?

Dr Leslie said...

You can't assume it is due to iron deficiency. You should get a blood test done. There are also other conditions like thyroid problems that can cause hair loss and can be detected with a blood test

Anonymous said...

I'm like nearing 20 this year
and i realise there's a 20cent blad patch at the top area...
everyday i will find lots of hair
on the floor and on my pillows
and even if i comb thru my hair, lots of hair will fall out...
is there any solution for this???

Dr Leslie said...

You should get yourself checked out. Need to do some blood tests to see if you have iron deficiency and whether there are any hormonal problems. Also the Doctor will look at the scalp to see if there is any problems there.