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Contrary to popular belief, increased hair shedding is not solely a male problem. The North American Hair Research Society says that about 50% of women in their 50s suffer from hair loss.
Genetics and underlying medical problems, such as hormone imbalance, are primary reasons behind this condition. However, hair loss in women can also be due to lifestyle behaviors. Drastic weight loss, styling and even trips to the beauty salon are all overlooked causes of hair loss on women.
If you’re a woman struggling with hair loss, here are some factors that may be contributing to your problem.
Pharmaceutical side effects
According to the American Hair Loss Association (AHLA), some pharmaceutical drugs developed to treat acne, high blood pressure, epilepsy, depression and gout have hair loss as a side effect, some examples are Accutane (isotretinoin), Lopid (gemfibrozil), Paxil (paroxetine), Amphetamines and more. Patients are advised to ask their doctors about the side effects of prescribed medicines and to do their own research.
Ditch the hair dryer
Excessive use of blow dryers, flat irons and other appliances can lead to humiliating hair loss. The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warns that high heat from hair appliances leave the hair brittle and prone to breakage.
Poor nutrition, poor hair health
A study published at the National Center for Biotechnology Information suggests that diet and nutrition play an important role in persistent or increased hair loss. Dr. DH Rushton of the University of Portsmouth in the UK confirms earlier studies that women suffering from iron deficiency are susceptible to hair loss. Insufficient protein intake can also adversely affect hair growth. Prevent hair loss by eating a balanced diet, and taking supplements if necesssary.
Sleep like a baby
Poor sleep habits have a lot of health consequences — from anemia to depression. Adults who get less than six hours of sleep each night develop weaker immune function, hormone secretion and stamina. Hair treatment experts at The Belgravia Centre warn that sleep deprivation, which is a form of stress, can lead to hair loss.
Alopecia areata (AA) is a form of hair loss believed to be an autoimmune disease. People with AA show circular bald patches on the scalp that could lead to persistent hair loss. The AHLA warns that extreme stress may trigger this condition in some people. Dr. Amy McMichael, of Wake Forest Baptist Health in North Carolina, explains that hair shedding may be one way the body reacts to physiological stress due to diet, medical or lifestyle changes.
Air pollution and Sensitive Scalp Syndrome
In a research paper, hair transplant expert Dr. Rajendrasingh Rajput of Dr. LH Hiranandani Hospital in Mumbai, cautions young people moving to urban cities about the risk of developing Sensitive Scalp Syndrome. This condition results from exposure to air pollutants such as particulate matter, dirt smoke and ammonia. These free radicals stay on the scalp and hair, leading to oxidative stress and hair loss.
Excessive use of chemicals such as bleach and hair color can cause hair breakage and eventual hair loss. One hair loss cure is to go natural! Use plants and herbs such as chamomile or walnuts in hair dye, natural rinses and other hair care products.
Excessive (unhealthy) weight loss
Dramatic weight loss caused by an eating disorder is a form of physical stress that can shock the body’s system, and bring on hair thinning or hair loss. Hair can grow back during recovery from an eating disorder, but should be addressed by a doctor if it struggles to return to its original healthy condition.
One of the most commonly overlooked things women do that causes hair shedding is improper hair practices. Excessive brushing, using too much shampoo and conditioner, or aggressive towel-drying can lead to hair loss. If chemical treatment of your hair is a concern, try using a natural shampoo alternative.
Braids are easy, convenient and chic. According to the Women’s Health Research Institute at Northwestern University, however, this hairstyle can be a cause of hair loss. Braids kept in hair for an extended period of time can cause scarring, and an irreversible form of baldness called Central Centrifugal Cicatricial Alopecia, that starts at the center of the scalp and spreads toward the edge of the hairline. The best thing to do is to take hair out of braids and let it rest, rather than leaving it in.
Patricia Evans is a part time interior designer and a full-time mother. She has worked in marketing, but quit her job to pursue her true passion: interior design. When she's not busy balancing her household and career, Patricia writes about lifestyle, travel, architectural trends, fashion, health, gardening, tea and cooking.