Hair loss in women can severely affect emotional well-being and quality of life


July is Women with Alopecia Month. This hereditary condition affects nearly 30 million American women each year and is the cause of thinning hair, and sometimes complete baldness.


Although it is a common affliction, with almost every woman eventually developing some level of female pattern hair loss, it is often a difficult subject to accept and talk about. Women with this disorder can be comforted by understanding the causes and potential treatment.


This condition is confusing and hard to accept. Women typically have lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression when faced with losing their hair because it is less socially acceptable for them than for men.

Normal hair loss means that a person sheds 50 - 100 strands of hair each day.


You may begin to suspect that your hair is thinning if you see an unusually large amount of hair on your pillow when you awake in the morning; you may notice more hair left in the bristles after combing or brushing your hair; you may see a swirl of hair in the drain after you shower; you may notice that a part is becoming wider; you may also find a trail of strands in places where you have been sitting or working.


Usually when a hair falls out, a same-sized new hair grows back in its place. With female pattern hair loss, shrinking follicles cause the new growth to be thinner and thinner—until it stops growing altogether.


While men characteristically have hair loss at the forehead or crown of their head, women will usually have thinning beginning at the top third to one half of the scalp. It typically occurs in the late 50s or 60s, but can happen anytime in a woman’s life, including the childhood or teenage years.


There are several types of alopecia. Androgenetic alopecia involves thinning on all areas of the scalp; telogen effluvium hair loss can be the result of thyroid disorders, traumatic injuries, extremely stressful situations, and pregnancy; alopecia areata totalis is complete hair loss including eyebrows and eyelashes.


A physician can diagnose and offer appropriate treatment. A support group can help to address emotional challenges, and a wig expert can show how to wear the many fashionable wigs available now.


This condition is confusing and hard to accept. Women typically have lower self-esteem and higher rates of depression when faced with losing their hair because it is less socially acceptable for them than it is for men.


Fortunately, hair loss is not life-threatening nor physically limiting. There are many ways to find acceptance when faced with this condition—beginning with awareness. Knowing what is happening to you and learning which steps to take to adjust to a new way of life is comforting.


Awareness of alopecia is an important step to reducing the stigma and allowing those living with the condition to be better understood.


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