TOP CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS & SHEDDING IN WOMEN

TOP CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS & SHEDDING IN WOMEN

Top Causes of Hair Shedding in Women

By Qhemet Biologics

If you suffer from excessive hair shedding, you're not alone. Over 30 million American women will experience some form of hair loss in their lifetimes, including approximately 50% of Black women. And although many turn to natural treatments to combat this, some causes of shedding are medical related and cannot be mitigated through the use of herbal scalp treatments alone. Learn more about some of the most common health related conditions associated with hair loss and shedding below.
 

Scalp Conditions

Poor scalp health can lead to or worsen hair shedding in many people. The following are some of the more common scalp conditions related to hair shedding.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia is a frequent cause of hair loss among black women. It's caused by hair follicle inflammation, which occurs when the hair is pulled too tightly for too long such as when it's combed and brushed too roughly or when it's styled in tight cornrows or braids. This causes the hair, especially along the hairline, to break off. Tightly coiled hair is naturally more fragile and prone to breakage due to the lack of a sebum coating along the length of its strands, so gentle grooming practices are needed to keep coily hair healthy and strong. To avoid traction alopecia, always drench the hair in a slippery conditioner like our Cocoa Tree Detangling Ghee before combing and always comb using a wide tooth comb starting from the bottom up. Follow up by applying a rich, porosity appropriate moisturizer like our Amla & Olive Heavy Cream or Burdock Root Butter Cream to your hair to keep it soft and supple and prevent brittleness and breakage. To soothe damaged follicles and boost growth, use either our Tea Tree & Lavender Therapeutic Pomade or our Castor & Amla Nourishing Pomade.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that can cause the immune system to attack healthy hair follicles which it mistakes as foreign invaders. This can cause the hair to fall out in small patches initially and progress to shedding across larger areas of the scalp. This condition is most common in people ages 35-50 and can result in total hair loss. This type of alopecia can also be genetic. For most people, alopecia areata is not a permanent condition. Once they're able to address their overactive immune system and quell the follicle inflammation, their hair can grow back.

Scalp Psoriasis

Scalp psoriasis is an inflammatory skin condition. Like other types of psoriasis, it increases skin cell turnover rates that cause the skin to pile up into what are known as plaques. If you have bright red patches on your scalp that also have a silvery sheen, you are likely dealing with scalp psoriasis. In dark skinned people, scalp psoriasis lesions can appear as violet or dark purple in color and as areas of darker, thicker skin. This condition can lead to hair loss, itching and bleeding if not treated. For mild cases or to alleviate the itchiness and soreness, we recommend our Tea Tree & Lavender Therapeutic Pomade.

Dandruff

Certain types of dandruff are caused by an overgrowth of a fungus called Malassezia, which can impede hair growth. 

Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies

Vitamin and mineral deficiencies can worsen the health of the hair and scalp and exacerbate hair loss. If you have a Vitamin D or iron deficiency, you may experience excessive hair shedding. 

Vitamin D Deficiency

Vitamin D deficiency can result in excessive shedding and thinning in many people. It is estimated that up to 76% of Black Americans have a Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D stimulates the hair follicles to grow, so when the body is lacking in this essential nutrient, the hair may be affected. "There is a link between vitamin D deficiency and alopecia, and it is often one of the common causes of thinning hair or hair loss in men or women.” Vitamin D also plays an important role in a healthy immune system, so a deficiency may also make people more prone to autoimmune conditions like alopecia areata. Research shows that women aged 18-45 who experienced alopecia and other forms of hair loss were more likely to have low vitamin D levels than those who did not experience hair loss. Vitamin D deficiency can be resolved through sunlight exposure and Vitamin D supplements.

Iron Deficiency

It is estimated that 20% of Black and Mexican-American women in the US have iron deficiency anemia. Over their lifetime, about 80% of Black women will develop uterine fibroids which can lead to heavy periods and an iron deficiency. Iron is necessary for healthy blood cells. It also keeps the hair healthy and strong. If your iron levels are being depleted through your cycle and you aren't consuming enough through your diet to replace what you lose, you may notice your hair starting to thin and fall out more. You may also develop brittle nails and pale skin. If you suspect that you're iron deficient, it's a good idea to get your iron levels checked, especially if you have heavy periods.

Hormonal Changes

Hormonal fluctuations can contribute to all kinds of symptoms, including hair loss. The most extreme hormonal changes tend to take place during and after pregnancy, as well as during menopause.

Pregnancy

When you're pregnant, your hair actually may appear thicker and fuller. This is because certain hormones prevent and minimize hair loss. When you give birth though, more hormonal changes occur, and the extra hair you've retained will start to fall out. Many women notice significant hair thinning and loss after giving birth, but luckily, hormonal imbalances tend to normalize within 3-6 months.

Menopause

You may become more prone to hair loss during the onset of menopause. When the levels of estrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner. Our Castor & Amla Nourishing Pomade may help nourish the follicles to combat shedding and encourage growth after pregnancy and menopause.

Health Conditions

Hair shedding is associated with many health conditions too, including the following:

PCOS

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (often referred to as PCOS) occurs when the ovaries become enlarged and cysts develop on the outside of them. This condition causes your body to produce excess androgens which may result in extra hair growth on your face and body as well as increased hair thinning on your head. In addition to hair loss, PCOS is linked to weight gain, acne, and trouble ovulating and getting pregnant.

Hypothyroidism

The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland that's located in the neck and produces hormones that keep your metabolism functioning properly. When your thyroid is underactive (this is a condition known as hypothyroidism), it can slow down the hair growth cycle and cause your hair to become thinner. If your hair thinning and loss are caused by hypothyroidism, you'll likely experience other symptoms like weight gain or increased sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.

Diabetes

People with diabetes are more likely to develop alopecia areata. The stress of living with diabetes may contribute to hair loss and interrupt the hair growth cycle. As a result, it may take longer for hair to grow back after it has fallen out. Approximately 18.7% of African- Americans aged 20 years or older have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes.

Lupus

Lupus disproportionately affects 1 in 537 young African-American women. People with lupus can experience significant symptoms, such as pain, extreme fatigue, hair loss, cognitive issues, and physical impairments that affect every facet of their lives. Lupus causes hair loss by increasing inflammation around the hair follicles. Lupus may also cause lesions on the scalp, damaging the follicles and interfering with normal hair growth patterns.

COVID-19

Research shows that COVID-19 infection can trigger telogen effluvium and cause people to shed up to 50% of their hair. One study revealed that 32 percent of COVID-19 patients experienced hair loss after recovering from the virus. Another study following hospitalized patients showed that 22 percent were still losing hair 6 months after being discharged. Hair shedding is common after major health events that involve major surgery, high fever or severe infection. Whenever there's shock to the system, it can push the hair growth phase into the shedding phase.

Medications

Finally, many medications list hair shedding as a side effect, especially prescription drugs used to treat arthritis, depression, gout, heart problems and high blood pressure. If you're dealing with excessive hair loss, the following medications may be the culprit: 

High Blood Pressure

Many beta-blocker blood pressure medications are associated with hair loss, including the following:
  • Metoprolol (brand name Lopressor)
  • Timolol (brand name Blocadren)
  • Propranolol (brand name Inderal or Inderal LA)
  • Atenolol (brand name Tenormin)
  • Nadolol (brand name Corgard)
Some ACE inhibitors can cause the hair to thin too:
  • Enalapril (brand name Vasotec)
  • Lisinopril (brand name Prinivil or Zestril)
  • Captopril (brand name Capoten)

Oral Contraceptives

Oral contraceptives (also known as birth control pills or just "the pill") can cause hair thinning and hair loss in some people. This is because oral contraceptives suppress hormones that cause ovulation, and these same hormones also contribute to hair growth. Birth control pills can cause the hair to shift from the growing phase to the resting phase too soon and for too long. This form of hair loss is called telogen effluvium. Large amounts of hair can fall out during this time. Those who have a family history of hair loss are more likely to experience this when taking birth control pills.

Anti-Inflammatory Steroids

Anti-inflammatory steroids (such as Prednisone) can cause hair loss during the telogen, or resting phase. Some people also experience hair loss after they stop taking steroid medications. If someone's hair loss is caused by an inflammatory condition such as an autoimmune disease, steroids may help to reduce symptoms and improve hair thickness.

Diet Pills

Crash dieting and rapid weight loss can lead to thinning hair and excessive shedding. This has to do, in part, with nutrient depletion and malnutrition, which can occur when you aren't consuming enough calories and nutrients. If you lose a lot of weight very quickly with diet pills like phentermine, you may be more susceptible to hair thinning and loss.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy, a common cancer treatment, often causes hair loss. These drugs are designed to destroy the fast-growing cancer cells in your body, but they also attack and destroy other cells that grow quickly, like the roots of your hair. Regrowth typically occurs after the treatments have ended. Generally, cancer treatment-related hair loss is not permanent and once the treatment is over, the hair grows back.

Combating Hair Shedding

As you can see, many health related conditions can trigger hair loss and shedding, from vitamin deficiencies and hormonal imbalances to severe infections and certain medications. Many of the natural ingredients in Qhemet products possess potent anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-microbial properties that have been used for centuries to mitigate hair loss and stimulate growth. But if your hair shedding hasn't been helped through improved nutrition, better styling techniques and phyto-medicinal scalp treatments, it may be time to reach out to a qualified health care professional.