Woman styling her hair at mirror


Are you styling your hair right out?

Hair loss is one of the most common reasons people see a dermatologist. The four main causes in women are stress, environmental influences, hormones and autoimmune conditions. Let's dive into each cause.  

Telogen effluvium is the hair loss that occurs after an illness or stressful event, such as childbirth or a hospitalization. Other triggers are crash dieting, taking certain medications, experiencing emotional situations and having an under-active thyroid, called hypothyroidism.

The good news is that this loss is non-scarring, meaning that hair will regrow within about six months without any treatment needed. With that said, if you have ongoing stress, you hair loss may be contributed to something different and may not grow back within six months.

Environmental and nutritional
Many studies have shown that dietary issues can cause hair loss, like not having enough iron, protein or vitamin D in your diet. Excess vitamin A and heavy metals such as selenium, arsenic and thallium can also cause hair loss. Improving your diet or taking a biotin supplement helps to strengthen existing hair if your hair breaks easily.  

I recommend to my patients to give their hair a break from harsh chemicals. Always use a heat protectant before straightening, curling or blow drying your hair, and use the lowest heat setting to prevent further damage.  

Androgenetic alopecia is the typical "male pattern" hair loss, but we often see this in women on the crown of the scalp. This is very common in women over 65 and those with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Topical treatments like minoxidil or Rogaine® can improve hair growth. There are also oral medications that block testosterone, which acts on the hair follicles. 


Alopecia areata is the main hair loss autoimmune condition, which creates small, round patches of hair loss because your immune system is attacking your hair follicles. This is treated with either topical steroids or steroid injections.

Losing hair can be very emotional, and if you're concerned, talk to your primary care provider or dermatologist to determine the underlying cause of the hair loss.


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