Although not terribly common, female hair loss is more prevalent than one might think. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, approximately 30 million women suffer from hair loss, and some are as young as fifteen years of age. Female hair loss is a medically diagnosable and treatable problem. While a normal hair grows about one half inch per month for two to six years, rests for some time, and then eventually falls out before a new hair begins growing in the empty follicle, those suffering from hair loss are unable to grow new hairs in particular follicles, causing baldness.
The causes of hair loss may vary. Many women who suffer from hair loss lose their hair in patterns, usually around the top of the skull and towards the back of the neck area. This patterned hair loss is often due to a hormonal condition called androgenic alopecia, when the body produces too many androgen hormones, causing hair follicles to shrink and either die or become dormant. Women who are suffering from androgenic alopecia are also often suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome, a common hormonal imbalance in which cysts grow on the ovaries.
Androgenic alopecia is not the only cause of female hair loss. Others include:
Alopecia areata: an autoimmune disorder that causes hair thinning or baldness.
Triangular alopecia: hair loss in temporal areas, resulting in patches of either baldness or only fine, thin hairs. Causes of triangular alopecia are unknown.
Scarring alopecia: hair loss attributed to scars on the scalp. This usually results from the hair follicles becoming inflamed, usually from tight braiding of the hair, as in corn-rows, or in post-menopausal women.
Telogen effluvium: when hairs revert to a “shedding” phase. This is often attributed to hormonal or nutritional imbalances, drug use, or stress.
Trichotillomania: a psychological condition that causes hair loss and baldness in selected areas due to compulsive hair pulling.
Treatments for hair loss depend on the cause. In the case of hormonal or nutritional imbalances, medication or improved nutritional habits will often help solve the problem. Other treatments include Rogaine, which is the only topical hair loss therapy approved by the FDA. More expensive treatments include laser hair rejuvenation and hair transplant surgery.
For another resource on common skin disorders, visit http://www.healthline.com/health/skin-disorders.