In this issue:
Women lose 50 to 100 strands of hair a day! It's completely normal
But large chunks of hair loss could be the sign of a more serious medical condition
Six possible medical reasons your hair is falling out
Here's the truth: Everyone loses hair. It happens during your morning shower, while you're using a brush, or while you're blowing it dry—and that's completely normal.
In fact, according to Francesca Fusco, a New York City-based dermatologist who specialises in hair loss, women lose 50 to 100 hairs each day! She explains that that's just your hair going through its cycles and there will be a new one to replace it.
However, hair loss may be a sign of a more serious medical condition that needs a treatment, or in more serious matters an evaluation by a dermatologist.
Below are six major causes of hair loss in women, plus the symptoms of each.
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Six possible reasons why your hair is falling out
Millions of people, most of them women, suffer from thyroid disease. When your body produces too little thyroid hormone, the hormone responsible for metabolism, heart rate, and mood, you are said to have hypothyroidism, or an underactive thyroid. If your body makes too much of the hormone, you're said to have hyperthyroidism, or an overactive thyroid.
Thyroid hormone is responsible for everything from your basal metabolic rate—the rate at which your body uses oxygen and energy to function—to the growth of your hair, skin, and nails. But when you don't have the right amount, you may notice changes in bodily functions.
The symptoms: Hypothyroidism (too little hormone) may cause a host of symptoms, including unexplained weight gain, fatigue, constipation, depression, and difficulty concentrating. Hair, nails, and skin may become more brittle and break more easily. It's more common in women, especially over the age of 50.
Lupus is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body's own immune system attacks healthy tissues. The condition affects about 1.5 million people and tends to strike women during their childbearing years.
The symptoms: Lupus often causes extreme fatigue, headaches, oral ulcers, and painful, swollen joints. Many people develop a butterfly-shaped rash across the bridge of the nose and become more sensitive to the sun. Other symptoms include fever, swelling in the feet and hands and around the eyes, chest pain, and anaemia.
#3: Iron deficiency anaemia
Women who have heavy periods or don't eat enough iron-rich foods may be prone to iron deficiency, in which the blood doesn't have enough red blood cells. Red blood cells transport oxygen to cells throughout your body, giving you the energy you need.
The symptoms: Iron deficiency anaemia causes extreme fatigue, weakness, and pale skin. You may also notice headaches, difficulty concentrating, cold hands and feet, and hair loss. Any type of exertion may leave you short of breath.
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#4: Hereditary hair loss
Hair loss that is genetic is known as androgenetic alopecia and, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, is the most common cause of hair loss. The gene can be inherited from either your mother's or father's side of the family, though you're more likely to have it if both of your parents had hair loss.
The symptoms: Women with this trait tend to develop thinning at the hairline behind the bangs. The condition develops slowly and may start as early as your 20s. You may be vulnerable if your mother also has this pattern of thinning. In some cases, the hair loss may be diffuse, meaning it's spread across the entire scalp.
#5: Skin conditions of the scalp
An unhealthy scalp can cause inflammation that makes it difficult for hair to grow. Skin conditions that lead to hair loss include seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff), psoriasis, and fungal infections such as ringworm.
The symptoms: Seborrheic dermatitis causes the scalp to shed its skin, so you'll notice greasy, yellowish scales on your shoulders or in your hair. It may be the result of yeast called Malassezia, hormonal changes, or excess oil in the skin. Psoriasis, an autoimmune condition that causes excessive skin cell turnover, produces a very thick white scale on the scalp that can bleed if pulled off. With ringworm, a fungus you contract by touching an infected person or animal, you'll notice red patches on your scalp, which may be diffuse.
#6: Telogen effluvium
Telogen effluvium is a phenomenon that occurs after pregnancy, major surgery, drastic weight loss, or extreme stress, in which you shed large amounts of hair every day, usually when shampooing, styling, or brushing. It can also be a side effect of certain medications, such as antidepressants, beta-blockers, and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. During telogen effluvium, hair shifts faster than normal from its growing phase into the "resting" phase before moving quickly into the shedding, or telogen, phase.
The symptoms: Women with telogen effluvium typically notice hair loss six weeks to three months after a stressful event. At its peak, you may lose handfuls of hair.
The condition of your hair doesn't just affect your looks—it's an important indicator of your health. If you're experiencing hair loss, consider taking a supplement or otherwise talking to your dermatologist.
To your good health,
Researcher for FSPHealthandFitness.co.za
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