Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 4/15/2022
While hair loss for men is much more talked about, women can lose their hair, too. In fact, many do. Research shows that less than 45 percent of women go through life without losing at least a little of their hair.
The good news is that many types of hair loss can be corrected. But treatment is often more successful when you catch hair loss early — the earlier the better, in fact. To do that, it’s a good idea to know what the signs of balding in women are. That way, you can nip hair issues in the proverbial bud as soon as you spot noticeable hair loss.
But before you learn the signs of loss of hair in women, read up on the things that can cause hair loss.
Hair loss in women is totally normal. The average person actually loses between 50 and 100 hairs each day — with this amount, you can still have a totally healthy head of hair.
But, if you’re losing more than that, it could be classified as female hair loss. So, what leads to this annoying (and even traumatizing) condition? A number of things, really. Read on for more details.
Considered to be one of the most common reasons for hair loss, if genetics is the cause of your hair loss, it’s considered to be something called androgenic alopecia (or female pattern hair loss). This basically means your hair follicles shrink, which then stops the growth of hair.
Hereditary hair loss occurs because your body has what’s called an excessive response to androgens. For the most part, this condition occurs in older women — though it can happen to younger women, too.
Men aren’t the only ones with testosterone flowing through their bodies. Women have it, too, and while it does some good things for us, it can also cause hair loss.
If that testosterone attaches to your androgen receptors located in your hair bulb along with the dermal papilla (which helps with hair growth), your hair follicles may shrink and hair loss can happen.
Testosterone can get converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This can also cling on to androgen receptors and cause hair loss.
Hot flashes and mood swings aren’t the only fun things menopause can bring — insert sarcasm here. On top of those things, “the change” can also cause hair loss.
Here’s why: when women go through menopause, our bodies begin to produce less estrogen and progesterone. These hormones are, among other things, connected to the health of your hair. And when there’s less of these hormones, testosterone can roam free and lead to hair loss.
People with thyroid issues sometimes deal with hair loss. Hypothyroidism is one of those issues. With this condition, your body doesn’t produce enough of the thyroid hormone, which can cause delays in hair growth. When this happens, you may lose hair without more growing in.
On the other side of the coin is hyperthyroidism. This is when you produce too much of the thyroid hormone. People with hyperthyroidism may find that they grow lots of fine hair, which can break easily.
How you handle your strands can put you at risk of hair loss. For example, using hot tools too often can cause damage that leads to breakage or loss.
Hair treatments can also be problematic. For example, coloring and relaxing your hair can be damaging — especially if you do these things on the regular.
Women who wear tight hairstyles (think a tight ponytail) may also notice hair loss. This is calledtraction alopecia. Heavy or tight weaves and hair extensions can also cause this. This form of hair loss is usually permanent. Occasionally, people with this type of permanent hair loss may get a hair transplantation as a way of reversing it.
Hair loss can present in a variety of ways. Often, the cause of your hair loss may determine how and where you notice it. For example, if you have traction alopecia, you may notice hair loss around the edges of your scalp.
A healthcare professional can examine your hair loss and help you determine what’s going on. Here are some of the different signs of hair loss they may look for:
More hair falling out every day — like on your brush, in the shower or on your pillow
Your part getting wider and wider
Patchy hair loss where there are areas of hair thinning or no hair at all
Seeing your scalp easily through your hair
Hair that breaks
Some women may notice just one pattern of hair loss, but it’s also possible to experience multiple signs at once.
Want to encourage healthy hair growth to make up for the hair you’ve lost? There are a number of treatments available for women who are dealing with baldness.
A healthcare professional will best be able to help you figure out what treatment may work best for your hair loss needs. Before you talk to someone, brush up on what may be suggested to you.
If genetic hair loss is your issue, consider topical minoxidil. It is FDA-approved to treat androgenetic alopecia. You may know it under its brand name, Rogaine®. Topical minoxidil is sold as a 2% solution or 5% foam.
Its exact mechanism of action isn’t fully known, but topical minoxidil is thought to signal your blood vessels to open wider so more nutrients and oxygen can make their way to your hair.
Minoxidil also stretches out your hair’s growth period so that more follicles are created to replace the hair you lose.
Spironolactone as a prescription acne medication can help if testosterone is the culprit behind your baldness. That’s because spironolactone drastically reduces the effects of androgens (like testosterone, for example) in the body. It also slows the production of androgens, stopping or slowing down hair loss.
Dry, brittle strands are more likely to break (daily flat iron use, we’re looking at you). Adding hydration back into your hair can help fight the dryness.
You should also consider going easy on the hot tools and chemical treatments.
Biotin is a B vitamin that is known for encouraging healthy hair and growth. Biotin is usually effective only when a biotin deficiency is present, which is rare. That said, it’s generally agreed that more research needs to be done.
Still want to try it? You can get biotin through a healthy diet that incorporates foods like eggs, milk and bananas.
Over half of women will experience hair loss at some point in their life. Medical conditions that can lead to balding in women include genetics (also known as androgenetic alopecia or female pattern hair loss), hormonal changes (like those that happen during menopause) and thyroid issues. Bad hair habits can also be problematic and can lead to permanent hair loss.
Signs a woman is losing her hair include a widening part, all-over thinning and bald patches. If you notice any of these things, it’s a good idea to reach out to a healthcare professional as soon as possible to figure out what type of hair loss you are dealing with. The sooner you can address your hair loss, the better.
Possible treatments to explore for hair loss are medication and treating your hair better. Again, the best person to review these options with is a medical professional. If you’re ready to get back to having a healthy head of hair, Hers offers easy-to-schedule consultations.