Female-pattern baldness typically starts with scalp hairs becoming progressively finer and shorter as you age. Many women first experience hair thinning and hair loss where they part their hair and on the top-central portion of the head.
Long, short, bouncy, or sleek, for most women hair is way more than a bundle of fibers. It’s an expression of your style and personality. But if youstart to lose your hair, it can really freak you out. Whether it’s short- or long-term, women lose hair the same way men do. It might thin all over, or your center part could get wider and wider. You might even get a bald spot at the crown of your head. One thing women rarely have: a receding front hairline.
How Does Hair Grow?
Your scalp is home to about 100,000 hairs. Each one has its own life cycle. A follicle produces a single hair that grows at a rate of half an inch per month. It hangs in there for 2 to 6 years, then stops for about a month. When the next cycle starts up, that hair falls out. At any given time, most of your locks are in the growth phase. Most people shed about 50-100 strands every day. Don’t worry if you find a few in your hairbrush or on your clothes. But if it starts to fall out in clumps or if you notice it getting thinner over time, check with your doctor. There’s no single cause. Triggers range from medical conditions — as many as 30 — to stress and lifestyle factors, like what you eat. Your genes play a role, too. Sometimes doctors can’t find a specific reason. As a starting point, hair loss experts suggest you get tested for thyroid problems and hormone imbalances. Hair often grows back once the cause is addressed.
In Your Genes
Another way to diagnose what the problem is just by looking and listening, Rogers says. She asks what a patient’s mother, aunts, or grandmothers look like – if they have similar, or greater amounts, of hair loss. Using magnification on the scalp can show if a woman’s follicles vary in size – with some thick and others thin. These are two telltale signs of female pattern hair loss, also called androgenetic alopecia.
Easy Does It
One other way to thin hair is self-inflicted – hairstyles like cornrows or too-tight braids can cause hair loss called traction alopecia.
All of the things women do to manipulate their hair — dyes, chemical treatments, bad brushes, blow dryers, and flat irons — can result in damage and breakage, Roberts says. This includes brushing too much and towel drying aggressively when the hair is wet.
Luckily, for most of these issues, the hair grows back or the loss can be reversed with medical treatments. But it is important to see a dermatologist if there seems to be something wrong, because the sooner treatment is started, the better the chances are for improving your growing season.