Each and every day we lose hair – it’s part of a natural cycle of growing, resting and shedding. On average we all lose fifty to one hundred hairs daily, but some of us lose many more than that and it could be a sign that something else is going on. Here are five medical conditions that may be the cause of your female hair loss.
- Hypothyroidism: thyroid disease affects millions of people worldwide, and the majority of these are women. An underactive thyroid produces too little thyroid hormone, a condition known as hypothyroidism. The thyroid produces the hormone which is crucial to the general running of your body, from the rate at which your body uses energy to function to nail, skin and hair growth. If your hair loss is accompanied by other symptoms such as unexplained weight gain, fatigue and constipation, ask your GP to check your thyroid levels; thyroid-regulating medication may be appropriate.
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome: PCOS is a condition caused by a hormonal imbalance in the ovaries affecting an estimated 1 in 10 women in the UK. It is diagnosed when a woman has two of the following: irregular periods, raised levels of androgens (male hormones) and multiple cysts on the ovaries. The visible symptoms may include diffuse thinning on the scalp yet, conversely, facial hair growth and more hair elsewhere. Your GP may prescribe birth control pills or other medication to tackle the symptoms – and noting that famous sufferers include Victoria Beckham, Halle Berry and Jools Oliver offers hope that PCOS does not have to be a defining disease.
- Scalp infections and conditions: when the skin on your head is unhealthy, it often inflames and disrupts healthy hair growth so maintaining the wellbeing of your scalp is essential. Problematic conditions include fungal infections, psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis, all of which require prescription medication to clear.
- Lupus: This chronic autoimmune disease tends to affect women during their childbearing years, and causes headaches, painful joints, oral ulcers, extreme fatigue – and often hair loss which is sometimes coupled with a scalp rash.
- Menopause: Many women notice diffuse thinning or a widening parting during the menopause, usually explained by the dip in oestrogen and rise in testosterone levels. Women experiencing menopausal hair loss may wish to consider HRT to manage a range of symptoms. It is also a good idea to treat your hair with kid gloves, avoiding over-styling and excessive blow-drying and using a gentle shampoo.