Although the experience of sudden hair loss or thinning among young women is not uncommon, the phenomenon can still be highly distressing. As sudden hair loss can seriously affect a woman's self-esteem, it is important that the condition is addressed appropriately.
Understanding Sudden Hair Loss in Young Women
Sudden hair loss is scientifically known as alopecia and refers to the condition where a person loses hair at a faster rate than normal. Typically, each hair follicle grows approximately ¼ of an inch per month, and continues growing for a maximum of six years. After this period, the hair falls out and is replaced by new growth. Under normal circumstances, an adult sheds 50 to 100 hairs a day. Alopecia occurs when this cycle is disrupted and the rate of hair loss exceeds that of re-growth.
Generally, hair loss or thinning is most commonly associated with men. Nonetheless, nearly all young women will experience some degree of hair loss during their lives, and two-thirds of them will be severely affected. However, unlike in cases of male hair loss, sudden hair loss in young women does not often cause total baldness. In fact, most women who suffer from hair thinning will never experience complete hair loss.
What Causes Sudden Hair Loss in Young Women?
The causes of sudden hair loss in young women are variable and influenced by a complicated set of factors. These factors however, can generally be divided into psychological and physical categories.
Anxiety, emotional stress, and fatigue are common culprits of sudden hair loss in young women. If these factors remain uncontrolled, they can lead to emotional distress and cause imbalances in the body that result in hair loss. Usually, however, cases of hair loss that are triggered by psychological factors are temporary and pass once emotional stability has been restored.
Hormonal imbalance is the primary cause for sudden hair loss among young women. Testosterone is the principal hormone that signals hair growth in the body, and dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone derived from testosterone, is responsible for overproducing hair. However, even though DHT is produced from testosterone, it is controlled by the hormone estrogen. Therefore, when women maintain a stable equilibrium of estrogen and testosterone, hormones stay balanced and DHT is controlled. However, when a woman suffers from hormonal imbalance, estrogen levels fluctuate and leave DHT production uncontrolled. This oscillation often causes sudden hair loss among young women.
Managing Hair Loss
Due to hair loss's relationship with the hormone estrogen, the best methods for managing the hormonal causes of hair loss involve ensuring hormone levels remain stable. This can be achieved naturally by maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen. As engaging in regular exercise reduces stress, healthy lifestyle changes such as these will also have a positive effect on hair loss triggered by psychological factors. In severe cases, woman can consider hair replacement surgery or medicines such as minoxidil.