Female Hair Loss Types and Causes

There are four main categories of hair loss that affect women. These include androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, telogen effluvium and cicatricial alopecia. Cicatricial alopecia is the only type of hair loss that is permanent and irreversible. Cicatricial alopecia only accounts for three percent of all hair loss cases. For the other 97 percent there is potential for improvement.

Hair loss only becomes permanent if the underlying follicle has atrophied or been damaged. Usually this happens slowly and progressively, allowing time for intervention. The best opportunity for re-growth occurs when hair loss issues are addressed and treated promptly.

Identifying the cause of hair loss is the first step in taking the necessary steps to re-establish healthy growth. Each type of hair loss has identifying characteristics.

Cicatricial Alopecia

Cicatricial alopecia, also known as "scarring alopecia," refers to a wide variety of hair disorders in which patches of hair follicles are damaged or destroyed and replaced by scar tissue. Once the follicle is destroyed and scarring has occurred, hair loss becomes permanent. It is important to seek treatment immediately to halt the inflammatory process and to prevent further irreversible follicular damage. Although the hair that was lost will never grow back, treatment may help stop the progression. . There are many types of cicatricial alopecia. Combined, they only make up three percent of hair loss cases.

Androgenetic Alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia is also known as female pattern baldness. With this condition the hair does not actually fall out. The hairs in certain areas become thinner and weaker, resulting in less scalp coverage thereby giving the appearance of hair loss.

Only certain pre-determined follicles are affected. These follicles begin to shrink as a substance called DHT mixes with sebum and travels to the susceptible follicles. With each new hair cycle the follicles shrink a little more. Sometimes they may atrophy. If this happens the follicles will cease to produce hair. As long as the follicle has not atrophied, the follicle-shrinking action can be decreed and improvements may be achieved.

A person who has inherited the genes for this condition can delay the sunset and minimize the effects by keeping the scalp clean, healthy, and free of excess sebum. Extreme care may keep a person with this genetic tendency from ever exhibiting symptoms. Applying essential oil formulas to the scalp can help keep the follicles healthy and functioning by increasing circulation, oxygen, cellular regeneration and providing nutrients to the hair follicles.

Any hormonal imbalance can trigger the onset, or exacerbate the effects of androgenetic alopecia. An anti-inflammatory diet may help hormonal function.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition which causes hair to fall out in patches. Alopecia areata can progress to alopecia totalis – total loss of scalp hair, or alopecia universalis – loss of all scalp and body hair. With alopecia areata the affected hair follicles lie dormant but remain alive. People with this condition have been known to re-grow hair in patches that have been bald up to ten years.

The activation of alopecia areata requires a trigger. Common triggers include viral or bacterial infection, illness, allergens, toxins and emotional stress. Identifying and controlling triggers can deter progress or recurrence episodes.

Anti-inflammatory diets are proving to be helpful in autoimmune conditions. Natural therapies such as scalp massage with aromatherapy or ayurvedic oils have been successful methods to re-grow hair.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is also known as diffuse hair loss because the hair loss occurs evenly from all over the scalp instead of in localized areas. Telogen effluvium is caused by a disturbance to the body. The disturbance may be minor and easy to correct; or it may involve a more serious physical condition requiring medical attention.

Hair loss from telogen effluvium may grow back on its own once the problem is identified and corrected. It is important to pinpoint the cause in order to implement the proper treatment.

The condition of one's hair is an indication of one's total physical and emotional well-being. Hair loss is never an isolated problem. All systems must be working synergistically in order for healthy hair to be produced. Taking optimal care of one's total health can greatly improve the quality and quantity of one's hair.

Understanding female hair loss is the first step to recovery. Learning about the types, causes, solutions and methods of prevention help enable women to understand and take charge of their own hair loss condition.