Hair Loss in Women: Causes and Treatments
When a woman begins losing her hair, she may feel as though part of her identity is being lost along with it. At illumiflow, we understand how deeply unsettling this process can be, especially for women, and this is a primary reason that we developed the Laser Cap in the first place.
The illumiflow Laser Cap stimulates your scalp, re-energizing hair follicles at the cellular level. Women who use the Laser Cap can continue other methods of hair growth treatments with no adverse effects.
Causes of Female Hair Loss
Between 20 and 30 million women in the United States suffer from hair loss. Nearly half of all women have suffered from some type of hair loss by the time they turn 40. The reasons women experience hair loss differ from men. As such, treatment may sometimes be different as well.
There is no singular cause of hair loss for all women. There are many possible contributing culprits, so understanding what may be leading to loss of hair is the very first step toward finding a real solution.
Female pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is experienced due to the presence of DHT. When hormones do not work in balance with one another (for any of a number of reasons), DHT can cause hair follicles to die. This is more apparent as women age and their estrogen levels begin to drop. Unlike male pattern baldness, which typically leaves patches of balding hair, female pattern baldness is apparent throughout the scalp.
Treatment for female pattern baldness includes both topical and oral medicines. These treatments have proven somewhat effective for some women by counteracting the presence of DHT. Treatments generally work much more quickly, much more effectively, and with longer-term success when coupled with Low Level Laser Therapy (the same technology that we use in our Laser Cap).
More about DHT
It is important to delve deeply into the role of DHT in androgenetic alopecia in order to more thoroughly understand hair loss in women. Though DHT plays a role in hair loss for both sexes, it does not occur for the same reasons or with the same patterns.
DHT starts with testosterone. Though this is the male hormone, women have low levels of the hormone as well. A typical, healthy, adult woman has 15 to 70 ng/mL (nanograms per milliliter) of testosterone. This amount begins to drop by about one percent every year after a woman turns 30.
About 10 percent of the body's testosterone is converted to DHT each day. Though this may fluctuate, particularly with age, even a small amount of DHT can lead to female pattern hair loss. This is dependent entirely upon how sensitive a woman is to DHT. It is likewise dependent on how much estrogen exists in the female body to counteract the DHT. Estrogen levels begin to drop during menopause or when ovaries are removed from the body. Women with a decrease in estrogen may experience female pattern baldness at a higher rate than those who have a steady estrogen level. Many women undergo hormone replacement therapy (HRT) to combat those effects.
Ovarian cysts, birth control pills and pregnancy are all factors in DHT leading to hair loss in women. Indeed, any fluctuation in hormones can cause the female body to respond negatively to DHT.
DHT and Female Pattern Baldness
DHT is a natural occurring hormone, but its effects on hair may feel like anything but a natural process. DHT's role in female pattern baldness is constantly under scrutiny. Thus far, researchers have found that DHT binds itself to hair follicles. The presence of DHT makes hair follicles weaker and shorter. It also shortens the growing cycle. Sometimes, the follicles are so weak that they immediately fall out. Other times, the growing cycle is so short that the hair never appears on the outside of the scalp at all.
To learn more about DHT, visit our comprehensive breakdown of DHT and how it relates to hair loss HERE.
Thyroid Disease & Other Autoimmune Disorders
Autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, can be another cause of hair loss. As with female pattern baldness, the hair loss is a result of fluctuating hormones. Those who suffer from thyroid diseases may be doubly affected by their existing hormone replacement treatments. This medication may lead to hair loss as well.
Topical treatments and shampoos that are formulated to strengthen hair follicles are commonly suggested by endocrinologists who treat women with thyroid disorders. Stress-busting activities, like meditation and yoga, are also often suggested. Low Level Laser Therapy is a good primary option for supporting supplemental alternatives like these.
Pregnancy and Childbirth
The hormonal shifts of pregnancy and childbirth cause hair loss in about half of all women. This hair loss may be slight, but often it is significant enough to cause noticeable bald spots.
The hair lost in pregnancy or after childbirth returns in almost all cases, though it can take months without some extra help. Research has shown that LLLT has no side effects on nursing mothers, making this method of hair regrowth the safest and quickest option for women in this phase of life.
IMPORTANT NOTE: despite loads of research demonstrating that LLLT is safe for mothers, we always suggest consulting with your physician before use if pregnant or nursing.
Lack of Proper Nutrition
Women are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to keeping an adequate amount of iron in the blood. Women are 10 times more likely to suffer from iron deficient anemia than men. Physicians believe that this may be due to the amount of blood lost during menstruation. A lack of iron in the diet can cause hair to fall out in large quantities. Likewise, women are more likely to suffer from eating disorders, such as bulimia and anorexia. These disorders often lead to hair loss as well.
The best way to improve hair growth is to speak with a physician or a registered dietitian regarding proper nutrition. Diets that are rich in meats, fish and leafy greens may be sufficient. Some women may need to take an iron supplement.
As with topical and oral treatments, regular use of the illumiflow Laser Cap can help to enhance the effects of an improved diet with regard to hair health.
Excessive Chemicals & Certain Hairstyles
Though less common, hair loss is sometimes caused by the way women treat their hair. The use of harmful chemicals can damage hair to the point that it breaks off or even falls out. This is particularly true with strong bleaches. Likewise, certain hairstyles may pull hair from the root, leaving bald patches until it can regrow. This is most commonly seen with tight braids and ponytails.
A hair stylist is often able to determine if hair loss is due to styling or chemical treatments. A stylist may recommend deep conditioning treatments for hair that has been over-processed. Likewise, the hair should be allowed to rest between chemical treatments. Repeated perms, relaxers or bleachings should be avoided as much as possible. Women who suffer from this type of hair loss may also use LLLT to quickly promote re-growth.
Other Types of Hair Loss
Cancer treatments, certain prescription pills (including birth control), infections, and alopecia areata (an autoimmune skin disease) can all lead to hair loss in women. Each of these conditions requires a specific treatment regimenin order to regrow hair.
Regardless of the cause, research has demonstrated time and time again that Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) can help. A multitude of studies have shown an increase in women's hair health, thickness, and capacity for natural re-growth when using this laser therapy.
Treatment Options for Female Pattern Baldness
Just as men and women respond differently to DHT, they also respond differently to the various treatments that exist for androgenetic alopecia. Because of this, there tend to be fewer regularly-suggested, doctor-approved methods of hair regrowth for women than there are for men.
The only clinically proven medication for female pattern baldness is Minoxidil. This topical treatment stimulates the scalp to create new hair growth. The FDA has approved two percent Minoxidil for women, though clinical studies show that the five percent solution is even more effective. Still, studies show that less than half of all women using Minoxidil experience any hair regrowth after eight months of use.
Minoxidil is relatively safe to use. It has shown to be more effective at retaining and regrowing hair for women than for men. It can also be used in conjunction with other hair regrowth methods, including low level laser therapy. On the downside, some users of Minoxidil report rashes or burning sensation. It is also messy and many believe it has an unpleasant smell.
Antiandrogens and HRT
Though not directly prescribed for hair regrowth, antiandrogens, or testosterone blockers, may help to keep DHT levels low enough to protect hair. Cimetidine, which is typically used to treat gastro-intestinal issues, may also function as an antiandrogen. Other drugs have been shown to have a side effect of producing hair. A doctor may prescribe these if no other methods of hair regrowth have worked. In all of these cases, medications can have side effects that include dizziness, feelings of weakness, shortness of breath, rash, diarrhea, headache and depression, to name a few.
HRT is commonly carried out in women who have had complete hysterectomies or who have gone through menopause. Hormone replacement can help women to maintain healthy lifestyles outside of hair regrowth. HRT is sometimes necessary to counteract hot flashes, vaginal dryness and mood swings. The use of antiandrogens and HRT are both safe along with other methods, including Minoxidil and LLLT caps. However, patients should always consult their doctors before undergoing multiple methods of hair restoration.
Hair Strengthening Shampoos and Conditioners
Many doctors will recommend hair strengthening shampoos and conditioners as a first defense against female pattern baldness. These shampoos help to provide nutrients directly into the scalp. Hair may grow stronger and longer when these treatments are used. Unfortunately, these over-the-counter treatments do not affect the hair follicles beneath the surface.
HAIR LOSS IN WOMEN & THE ILLUMIFLOW LASER CAP
Women shouldn't have to hide thinning hair. Thanks to technology like LLLT, it is now possible to regrow healthy hair and regain true confidence.
The illumiflow Laser Cap is safe, simple,and easy to use. Women who suffer from hair loss for any reason will benefit from using the Laser Cap and can expect to regrow their hair in a natural and lasting way.
Contact illumiflow today for a FREE Hair Loss Evaluation! Simply CLICK HERE to get started now.