Women’s alopecia might be a topic you avoid in public. Despite it triggering private feelings of embarrassment, frustration, sadness or even anger over the years.
Maybe you’ve just started to worry because you’ve noticed clumps of hair collecting in your shower drain. Or, when you look in the mirror, you can see the top of your scalp. Running your fingers through, you can feel it thinning throughout.
For many women, your hair is your pride, and you’ve spent years taking care of it. Losing so much can be devastating.
This simple yet comprehensive guide on women’s alopecia explains why women experience hair loss and what some of the causes could be. You’ll also discover how some women are growing back their hair thicker and faster with microneedling.
What is Hair Loss in Women?
Think about hair loss, and what springs to mind for most people is Male Pattern Baldness. But the medical name for this condition is actually Androgenic Alopecia, and it frequently occurs in women as well as men.
The main difference in how it presents in women versus men is that it often starts later. Women are more likely to notice their thinning hair starting in their 40s, whereas men may notice it in their 20s. Women who have androgenic alopecia also notice that hair thins all over their head, and rarely does the hairline recede, as it does with men.
There are many other types of alopecia that can affect women as well. We’ll dive into those in a moment. But first, it’s important to understand a little about how hair works.
Different Types of Hair
When thinking about hair loss, you may be most concerned about the hair on your head. Either your previously luscious locks, which you’ve brushed and blow-dried for most of your life, or your eyebrows and lashes, which help bring definition to your face.
The longer, thicker and more noticeable hair on your scalp is known as capillary hair. Vellus hair is the finer peach fuzz that grows on most of your skin, apart from your palms, soles, lips, or eyelids.
Why Hair Falls Out
Shedding hair is a natural part of the hair-growth cycle. Hair grows out of something called a follicle. It has a root that is kept in the follicle by a bulb. Small veins known as capillaries feed this bulb hormones and growth factors that stimulate hair growth. Your sebaceous (oil) glands are also located in this area. The sebum acts as a lubricant allowing the hair to rise to the skin’s surface and beyond.
However, hair doesn’t keep growing forever. If you’ve ever tried to grow your hair super long, you may have realised that eventually, your hair seems to have stopped growing. This is because your hair has a specific life cycle. Once hair has grown for a period (usually between 2-7 years), it falls out and is replaced by new hair. If the follicles keep producing new hair, this type of hair loss won’t impact how your hair looks.
Hair Growth Cycles
We’re going to get to the different types of hair loss in just a moment. To understand what’s going on with your hair loss, you’ll first need to understand the 3 cycles of hair growth.
This is where your hair is still growing. In this time, your hair could grow up to around 75cm—although it’s dependent on the length of this cycle. For someone who doesn’t have hair loss, most of their hair (80-90%) is in Anagen phase.
The next stage is where the hair stops growing and detaches from the blood supply. Hair in this stage is known as club hair.
The hair then rests in place for quite a while—around 3 months, in fact. While that long hair is resting, new hair begins to grow in the follicle beneath it.
At the end of the telogen cycle is when your hair detaches from your head. Because each follicle is at a different stage, on average, you can expect to shed about 50-100 resting club hairs every day.
If you’re shedding more than this, you may be experiencing hair loss.
It’s also possible that after the telogen phase, a follicle becomes “dormant”. This means that no new hair will grow in the place of the one just lost. There’s no hair loss treatment that stimulates new follicle growth. The only way to replace a hair follicle is with a transplant. That’s why it’s crucial that you consult with a specialist as soon as you notice your hair loss.
Types of Women’s Alopecia
Female Pattern Hair Loss
We’ve already discussed androgenic alopecia, which is caused by a hormonal imbalance. The terminal hair on your head transitions into the softer vellus hair before follicles become completely dormant, but there are other reasons you may notice your hair thinning.
Anagen Hair Loss
This is when something interrupts the hair during its growth stage.
The result can be a rapid shedding of hair on the scalp but also over the entire body. Up to 90% of hair may be lost in as little as a few weeks. The scalp may be completely or partly bald.
If you analyse the hair, you will notice that it was “snapped”, meaning there is no root or bulb present.
Depending on what causes the anagen hair loss, your hair may still grow back completely. One of the causes of anagen hair loss is chemotherapy treatment. Hair is often fully restored when treatment stops. However, it may have changed in appearance and be curlier or a different colour.
When hair is shed due to alopecia areata, it may not grow back.
Telogen Hair Loss
Hair loss can also occur when the hair is in the telogen stage. If you looked at these hairs closely, you’d notice a bulb still attached to the hair. Whereas when the hair is interrupted in the anagen phase, the end is tapered or snapped.
This type of hair loss tends to be temporary. In many cases, it’s caused by a shock to the system.
What’s going on under the skin is that those anagen (growing) hairs are fast-forwarded into the telogen phase. These club hairs become a majority and then shed.
Because club hairs rest in place for a few weeks before shedding, by the time you notice the thinning of your hair, it could already be in recovery with new hairs pushing through. However, for some women, recovery may be incomplete, or hair could continue to shed for years.
Even in healthy women between 30–60 years of age, telogen effluvium can occur WITHOUT a trigger. And there is a risk that repeated acute telogen effluvium can progress in Female Pattern Hair Loss.
Unlike male hair loss, most forms of women’s alopecia won’t cause a receding hairline. However, there’s one exception, and that’s when certain hairstyles or headdresses cause follicular tension.
Some hairstyles that can cause traction alopecia when worn repeatedly include:
- Tight ponytails, braids, buns, and weaves
- Hair extensions
- Chemical relaxers
Traction alopecia can result in hair loss from the front of the scalp, looking like a receding hairline. However, it depends on the particular hairstyle and where the tension is.
When caught and rectified early enough, hair can regrow as the hair follicles may still be present and undamaged. But not changing your hairstyling practices could lead to scars in the follicles known as cicatricial alopecia. And this could lead to permanent hair loss.
Cicatricial (scarring) alopecia
If you start to notice small bald patches on your scalp, there is a small chance you have cicatricial alopecia. The other name for this is scarring alopecia. Only 3% of people with hair loss have cicatricial alopecia. It may be painless, or you may experience burning or itching sensations.
Scarring alopecia means that the hair follicles become replaced with scar tissue, and once it reaches a certain stage, it can’t be reversed. It’s essential to get an early diagnosis so it can be stabilised to prevent further hair loss.
Reasons for Women’s Hair Loss
There are many reasons for female alopecia. The best way to find out why your hair is thinning out and what type of hair loss you’re experiencing is to consult a professional. They may take a sample of your shed hair or even a biopsy to determine what’s going on and find the best way forward.
Here are a few of the common triggers for the different types of hair loss women can experience.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
Anagen hair loss
- Auto-immune disorder (alopecia areata)
- Medication (cytotoxics, chemotherapy)
Telogen hair loss
- Medication (contraceptive pill, anti-coagulants, anti-convulsants)
- Rapid weight loss (anorexia / bulimia nervosa)
- Health (stress, illness, pregnancy)
- Tight hairstyles or headwear
- Traction alopecia
- Rare syndromes and conditions
What Causes Sudden Female Hair Loss?
It’s alarming when your previously full tresses seem to deflate before your eyes.
If you experience sudden hair loss, this could be due to telogen effluvium. This generally occurs 2-6 months following a trigger. However, it could also be due to anagen hair loss types caused by chemotherapy or an auto-immune disease.
That’s why it’s essential you consult your physician as soon as you notice hair loss.
Hijab Hair Loss
Hijab hair loss, or hijab alopecia, is a specific form of traction alopecia. It’s caused by a tight hijab rubbing your hairline or in combination with the hairstyle you wear underneath. Clips that keep the hijab in place can also create additional friction leading to hair loss.
Is Female Hair Loss Permanent?
Whether you’ve noticed a widening of your part or small bald patches over your scalp, one of your first worries may be, “is female hair loss permanent?” Rest assured, not all hair loss is permanent. However, you’ll have the best chance of restoring your hair to its original glory if you act early.
The Impact of Hair Loss on Women
While losing your hair may not cause you any physical pain, it can take an emotional toll.
Has your self-esteem taken a hit? Or perhaps you’re withdrawing from your usual social activities?
If you’re unhappy with your hair loss, there are steps you can take to reverse the thinning of your hair.
Dermapen Microneedling for Hair Loss
A Dermapen Treatment™ for hair loss is an effective solution for growing back your hair. The microfine, and virtually painless wounds created by the superior Dermapen 4™ needles promotes hair regrowth in several ways. Your specialist Authorised Treatment Provider will consult with you to find the course of action for your type of hair loss.
Dermapen Treatment Benefits for Hair Loss
- Stimulates growth factors
These little powerhouse proteins trigger cells to produce other proteins like collagen. Growth factors help increase the size of hair follicles, as well as hair volume and growth.
- Increases efficacy of topical treatments
PRP, mesotherapy solutions, or drugs like minoxidil are infused into your skin as part of your Dermapen Treatment for hair loss—it’s what’s called a combination therapy. By creating thousands of tiny channels, the restorative solutions pass more easily through the top layer of skin. This helps maximise their effectiveness.
- Creates new blood vessels
A Dermapen Treatment for hair loss helps trigger the release of growth factors and the production of new blood vessels. This stronger capillary network helps nourish the bulb of the hair with hormones to help activate and sustain hair growth.
In some cases (scarring alopecia), the mechanical action of the needles will help break up scar tissue that’s covering or compromising the hair follicles.
The Dermapen 4™ is used exclusively by our Authorised Treatment Providers. The super-fine high-quality needles reach the promised depths with virtually no pain or downtime—you don’t even need to use numbing cream. DermapenWorld Authorised Treatment Providers have been provided with specific protocols to tackle a multitude of conditions including hair loss.
Support Your Results at Home
You can further support your results by:
- Treating your hair gently and varying your hairstyles
- Combining Dp Dermaceuticals L.E.D. red light masks and appropriate serums at the advice of your Authorised Treatment Provider.
- Home maintenance using Dermapen HOME to aid follicle stimulation and infusion of serums such as Dp Dermaceuticals Exosomes or topical minoxidil.
What Types of Hair Loss are Dermapen Treatments Suitable For?
When all the correct steps are taken Dermapen Treatments can successfully reverse the following types of women’s alopecia:
- Traction alopecia
- Early stages of cicatricial alopecia
- Androgenetic alopecia with active follicles
- Stabilised alopecia areata (drug combination therapy)
- Stabilised telogen effluvium
Don’t Wait Until it’s too Late
While it may be a tricky subject to approach, don’t put off seeing your Authorised Treatment Provider to find out whether a Dermapen Treatment could help grow back your hair.
If you are so much as contemplating it, book a consultation today. We know how it can impact your confidence to have thinning hair as a woman (or a man)! Take the first step towards more abundant hair.
If you are a professional and wish to learn how to become a DermapenWorld Authorised Treatment Provider, click here.