Alopecia in women – symptoms, causes and other risk factors

Alopecia in women

When we meet someone, then the hair is one of the first things which we notice about person. Hair can tell about your style and personality. As we are getting older, especially women, we want to have good looking hair. In the beginning of the late 20th century was very important to have groomed and managed hair because in this way women will avoid negative effects about their look. There are some women who begin to experience hair loss as they are getting older, particularly during the menopause [1]. This can be distressing and it can negative effects of self – esteem but there are many strategies and treatments which can help to manage the hair loss in women. Alopecia is a medical term which is used for baldness. If someone has complete baldness, then it is known as alopecia totalis.

All people lose hair. There are some people who have perfectly normal hair loss because their hair falls out after it completes two to six year growth phase. Also you can notice that your hair have fallen in your hairbrush, in your comb or on your clothes. The average person loses about fifty to one hundred hairs per day. This hair loss is normal. If your hair starts to fall out in clumps, especially when you comb or brush or when you take a shower, then it is not normal. In this case you must visit your doctor. Every woman who has noticed that she can see larger areas of your scalp or that her hair is thinning, then she should visit dermatologist for proper diagnosis and treatment of her hair loss.

Alopecia in women

Alopecia in women causes

There can be many different causes for alopecia in women such as

  • Thyroid disease: This is a butterfly – shaped gland which is located in the front base of the neck. It secrets thyroid hormones which are used by every cell in our body. Imbalances in the thyroid hormone are one of the main causes for hair loss in women. Both hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone) and hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) can trigger hair loss. These hormone imbalances are easily detectable with blood tests. Treatments for this condition can help to alleviate symptoms in which hair loss is also included. [2]
  • PCOS: PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) is a condition in females in which body produces more male hormones (androgens) than it normally should. Those women who suffer from PCOS can grow extra body hair and facial hair. Thinning of the hair on the head is one symptom of PCOS. [3]
  • Alopecia areata: It is a condition which is causing hair loss in round patches on the body and scalp. This is a medical term for baldness. When someone has alopecia areata, then the missing hair often grows back approximately six months to one year later. It is estimated that less than 5% of people lose all the hair on their body and head. The alopecia areata is not contagious.
  • Ringworm: This is a fungal infection which is causing patches of hair loss. Tinea capitis is the medical name for ringworm. The ringworm starts as a small pimple that grows larger. The affected areas are inflamed, red, itchy with scaly patches and temporary baldness. The skin of affected person can ooze. Ringworm is contagious when it comes to skin – to – skin contact. [4]
  • Childbirth: There are many women who lose their hair after they gave birth to their children. When the hair loss is happening after pregnancy, then it is not true hair loss and it is normal. Hair falls because women have decreased estrogen levels in their bodies. Many women notice that they lose a lot of hair in a short period after giving birth. The hair fullness returns to normal in a period of one to two years. [5]

Types of hair loss: There are many different types of hair loss. The hair loss can involve thinning of the hair or it can involve a total loss of hair. Also it can be gradual or sudden. It can affect old and young people. It can be genetic or it can be a result of extreme stress, a medical condition or treatment. There are many cases when hair loss is side effect of the chemotherapy. There are 50% of women who lose more hair than usual after they have given birth.


[1] Goluch-Koniuszy ZS. Nutrition of women with hair loss problem during the period of menopause. Przeglad Menopauzalny. 2016;15(1):56–61.

[2] Vincent M, Yogiraj K. A descriptive study of alopecia patterns and their relation to thyroid dysfunction. International Journal of Trichology. 2013;5(1):57–60.

[3] de Moura HHG, Costa DLM, Bagatin E, et al. Polycystic ovary syndrome: a dermatologic approach. Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia. 2011;86(1).

[4] Fuller LC, Child FJ, Midgley G, Higgins EM. Diagnosis and management of scalp ringworm. BMJ. 2003;326(7388):539-41.

[5] Piérard-Franchimont C, Piérard G. Alterations in hair follicle dynamics in women. BioMed Research International. 2013;2013:957432.


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