Hair loss in women is becoming an increasing problem – and one that is also now being talked about more openly.
Data from DermNet NZ provided via the British Association of Dermatologists, states that by 50 years of age, 40 per cent of all women will experience genetic hair loss.
However, this information is from 2012 and, in recent years, studies as well as anecdotal evidence suggest that the number of women affected may be higher and the age may now be much lower – with shedding starting between 20 to 30 years of age.
When there is consistent excessive shedding, sudden hair fall or where signs of hairloss such as the parting appearing wider and there being a drop in volume – often particularly noticeable when the ponytail becomes thinner – it may be time to take advice from a dedicated hair loss specialist.
There is a simple step that can be taken before visiting a dermatologist or hair loss clinic though, which may help significantly in diagnosing the problem: having a blood test.
Blood test may reveal cause of thinning hair
Whilst Female Pattern Hair Loss is the most common reason for thinning hair in women, there are a number of other hair loss conditions which can present – and some of these are far more likely to affect women than men.
They are temporary conditions which cause shedding from all over the scalp and can be triggered by emotional or physical stress, including hormonal changes and dietary imbalances as well as being a side effect of certain illnesses and medications, including contraceptive pills.
Women are especially prone to certain nutritional deficiencies and thyroid problems, all of which can cause thinning hair and can be easily detected by a simple blood test, which can be requested via the GP.
The aspects that should be tested, are as follows, though the doctor may recommend additional tests based on the individual’s medical profile:
- CBC (complete blood count), haemoglobin, blood iron levels, MCV, and ferritin levels – these will show if there is a problem with iron deficiency or anaemia
- ESR (erythrocyte sedimentation rate) – an inflammation marker which will help to establish the correct ferritin level
- zinc levels – to detect zinc deficiencies
- vitamin D – a common deficiency, particularly in the colder months
- B vitamins – vitamin B12 or vitamin B9 (folate) deficiency or pernicious anaemia is noted to cause hair loss
- thyroid function – to establish any problems with an underactive (hypothyroidism) or overactive (hyperthyroidism) thyroid
- sex hormone levels – androgen excess can cause thinning hair, as can often be the case with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
- ANA and ENA tests (antinuclear antibodies and extractable nuclear antigens) should also be carried out if autoimmune-related hair loss is suspected; this can include forms of Cicatricial Alopecia (scarring hair loss) as well as diffuse Alopecia Areata.
Telogen Effluvium and Female Pattern Hair Loss links
As before, the type of hair loss caused by the issues flagged in one of these blood test screenings is usually Telogen Effluvium.
This occurs when the body feels stress and diverts its resources to protect the critical functions, leaving the non-critical ones, such as the hair growth cycle, temporarily neglected.
This disruption can send hair follicles that were actively growing hair into their resting phase prematurely. This results in hair fall up to three months later, affecting around 30 per cent of hairs from all over the scalp.
New regrowth should resume naturally within six months, but where the condition persists for more than six months, it may be the chronic form, or there could be other issues at play…
Where women have an underlying genetic predisposition towards Female Pattern Hair Loss – often noted by male or female relatives also having androgenetic alopecia – or where they already actively have this permanent, hereditary hair loss condition, Telogen Effluvium can be a further catalyst.
It can trigger the early onset of Female Pattern Hair Loss in women who had not yet developed signs of the condition, but had the relevant genetic traits. It can also exacerbate the shedding in active cases.
Whilst Telogen Effluvium in its mild and chronic forms affects the entire scalp, Female Pattern Hair Loss is limited to the top of the head, presenting from the crown to the hairline and temples. Both may be active simultaneously, making shedding from the top of the scalp in particular appear worse.
Women worried about losing their hair should consult a specialist at their earliest convenience in order to explore the various hair loss treatment options open to them, ideally after having a blood test but this is not always necessary.
The first step is to have a consultation, either in person or online, in order to obtain a professional diagnosis, so that a personalised course of hair loss solutions can be tailored to the findings and each individual’s medical profile.
Topical applications of high strength minoxidil are clinically-proven to treat female hairloss, whilst the addition of appropriate hair growth supporting products, such as the food supplement Hair Vitalics for Women and at-home, follicle-stimulating LaserBand devices, can further bolster the approach, helping to promote strong and healthy hair for many women.
Women who visit Belgravia often tell us that just having someone listen to and understand their concerns is a huge relief in itself, whether they ultimately decide to go ahead with treatment or not. So, if you have noticed signs of thinning and it is a growing concern, this is a simple initial step to take that may put your mind at rest, as well as providing you with all the information you need to make an informed decision about the best way to proceed.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.