Androgenetic alopecia, or female pattern baldness, is the most common cause of female hair loss, but it can also be the result of a number of factors or health concerns and the success of treatment depends on a correct diagnosis.

This may involve certain tests by your personal physician as there are a number of underlying medical conditions that cause hair loss as an unfortunate side effect, such as an underactive thyroid, iron deficiency, or anaemia.

Here we take a look at some of the main hair loss conditions affecting women. First, it’s important to realise there are two main types of hair loss – genetic and reactive.

Genetic hair loss

The main type of genetic hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, which is known as male pattern baldness when it affects men, but it can also affect women. Due to a genetic sensitivity to male hormones, the hair follicles will gradually shrink over time. This means that each hair cycle produces finer and shorter hairs, typically resulting in a diffuse, all-over hair loss in women.

Reactive hair loss

This means that your hair loss has been triggered by something that affects your body’s natural responses: this could be the result of severe dieting, illness or stress. Typically, reactive hair loss is temporary and will resolve itself over time.


Hormone-Related Hair Loss

The hormonal changes that occur during the menopause are often a trigger for increased hair shedding. Other hormone-related conditions that can cause hair loss include polycystic ovary syndrome, which affects approximately 10 per cent of women

Telogen Effluvium

This form of hair loss is usually temporary. Every single hair follicle is in its individual growth cycle of growth, rest and shedding. Typically, you’ll lose approximately 100 hairs a day from all over the scalp so you’re never left with any noticeable patches of hair loss. However, certain events can shock the body, causing more hair follicles than normal to move from the growth to resting phase.

The resting stage is known as the telogen phase and lasts about three months, which is why you will commonly see a marked, noticeable amount of hair loss approximately three months after the trigger occurs. This can be a stressful event or illness, although another common cause of telogen effluvium is childbirth which is why you often see hair loss after pregnancy.

Fortunately, telogen effluvium is usually temporary and normal hair growth should resume once the stressor has been removed.

Diffuse Hair Loss

Also known as chronic telogen effluvium, this is prolonged thinning of the hair. The growth cycle of the hair has been affected but doesn’t resolve because the underlying cause has not been addressed. Our hair loss experts will be able to discuss any concerns or ongoing health conditions that you may be suffering from, including stress and anxiety, thyroid problems or anaemia. Ongoing hair loss can also be a side effect of many commonly prescribed medications.

Alopecia Areata

A form of hair loss affecting both men and women of all ages, alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition where the body attacks the hair follicles causing hair loss that typically presents as circular bald patches. It is usually temporary, but can reoccur at any point and in a different area of the scalp. It can also progress into total loss of hair on the scalp and the whole body.

Scarring Alopecia

Although alopecia areata is a hair loss condition that is difficult to predict in terms of how it presents, there is no damage to the hair follicles so they can start to behave normally at any point. However, there are a number of hair loss conditions, including Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia, that are deemed scarring alopecia because there is trauma to the hair follicles. Unfortunately, these can cause permanent hair loss in the areas affected.

Traction Alopecia

This form of hair loss is caused when the hair follicles are put under a high degree of continual stress, usually due to popular hairstyles such as hair extensions, braids or weaves. Hair loss is either diffuse or isolated to specific areas if it is the result of the hair being worn in one particular hairstyle over a long period of time.