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Hair Fall in Women – Why Does It Happen?

The booming hair care industry should tell you something about the range of hair problems plaguing people. And one of the commonest causes for the escalating demand for hair care products is hair fall, and to be even more specific, hair fall in women. Every other day there is a new shampoo, hair mask, hair oil, serum in the market that promises to address hair fall in women. But sometimes when you opt for new hair oil, shampoo, serum or any new unguent, what you are doing is merely addressing the result and not the cause of the hair loss. Hence, you must have a prior understanding of the underlying reasons, which cause erosion of the hair roots over time.

 

Causes of Hair Fall in Women

 

1. Chemicals

Most women do not read the ingredients of their shampoos before using them. They rather go by what the advertisement or their friends and family recommend. But there are several chemicals, which are put into a shampoo that does more harm than good. For instance, sulfates. They are the most damaging of all chemicals found in hair products. Sulfates can be found in car wash soap and engine degreasers. There are two major sulfates that you must steer clear of, sodium lauryl sulfates and sodium laureth sulfates. The other ingredient is paraben. If you see any ingredient ending with paraben, put that product back on the shelf. Studies show that paraben has been linked with breast cancer. Similarly, chemicals in hair colours often weaken the hair shaft by disrupting the protein backbone leading to hair fall in women. 

You could either opt for sulfate- and paraben-free shampoos or choose herbal alternatives. Mild herbal shampoos can be used regularly to keep your scalp clean and it will not have any of the side-effects of chemical-laced products. Similarly, you could use henna and coffee to colour your hair.

 

2. Harsh treatment

Hair fall in women can be linked to a series of common daily practices. Starting from tying your hair in a tight ponytail, brushing your hair briskly when it is wet, using hair straighteners, over blow-drying your hair or even tying up your hair when it is damp. The root (the pun is unintended) of the problem is, if you were to notice, is that each of these practices adversely affects the strength of your hair structure by subjecting it to either high temperature or pressure.

Harsh treatment of hair can result in hair loss

Treat your hair kindly. Avoid detangling your hair right after a shower, use a wide-tooth comb when detangling, give your hair some time to dry rather than subject it to a hairdryer or even better, keep that dryer at a cooler setting.

 

3. Stress

The body produces the hormone cortisol when stressed. While it is supposed to facilitate the body to deal with threatening situations, a sustained high level of cortisol is not good for the body, especially hair growth. When the cortisol levels are high, the adrenal glands begin to produce fewer hormones that promote hair growth, and deter hair falling out. Subsequently, the hair becomes weaker and begins to shed. Therefore it is no surprise that hair fall in women is common after they have had childbirth or emotional trauma.

 

Taylor Swift knows what she is talking about when she says “you need to calm down”. If you are stressed then you have to find a way to address it. Listen to music, take bubble baths, hot showers, warm head massages, go for a walk; just keep aside an hour or two every day to let your body and mind heal.

 

4. Hygiene

Maintaining basic scalp hygiene can go a long way in preventing hair fall in women. If you are one of those who believe in shampooing once or twice a week, then think again. The scalp produced natural oil called sebum, which mixes with dust and clogs the hair roots preventing them from breathing.

A women getting her hair shampooed at a salonUse a mild herbal shampoo to keep your hair and scalp clean and smelling good.

 

5. Nutrient deficiency

First, hair is made up of proteins, most notably keratin. Eating protein-rich foods boosts hair growth. Second, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E contribute to healthy hair growth. Lastly, iron supports red blood cells that carry oxygen in your blood. A lack of iron slows down hair growth and increases hair fall. Therefore it is essential that you not only get your Vitamin levels checked but also eat a balanced diet. This point gains more in importance because Indian women often choose their family’s well-being over their own.

 

Swap that pizza for homemade ‘dal chawal’. While I do not want to come across as pedantic, a balanced diet can go a long way in solving not just your hair fall issue but several other issues that you might be dealing with such as obesity or acidity. 

 

6. Medication

There is a range of medicines that can lead to hair fall in women. This occurs when the medicine (chemical) disrupts the hair growth cycle (which we will discuss later). Hair fall is often triggered by birth control pills, acne medication, antidepressants, and even antibiotics.

bottles of medication

In this case, you would need to consult a doctor. In cases, if you have to take the medicine, the doctor could perhaps prescribe an alternative drug with a different composition. 

 

7. Genetic predisposition

If none of the above seems like a likely reason for your hair fall then ask yourself or look up old albums. Does hair loss or female-pattern baldness run in your family?  Sometimes you are just genetically predisposed to hair thinning and eventual hair fall.

 

Do not lose heart. While there is little that you can do if hair loss comes coded in your DNA, you could follow a healthy hair care regime. If you cannot stop the hair loss, you could at least slow it down.

 

Conclusion

Between growing out and falling out, each hair strand passes through four stages of anagen, catagen, telogen and exogen.  Some of the causes that we discussed above disrupt this cycle leading to hair fall in women. This is precisely why you must understand your hair. If necessary visit a dermatologist. Find out if your hair is dry, weak, thinning; if it needs moisture, or hair oil, or nutrients. As per studies losing 100 strands a day is considered normal. But if you are losing hair at an alarming rate or lost a lot of hair in a short period of time you must see a doctor.

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