More young women are experiencing hair loss and here's why

Thought hair loss only occurred in old men and menopausal women? Think again.

These days, more and more young women are complaining about unexpected hair loss. This is concerning for a variety of reasons; not only from a physical health perspective, but also when you consider the role that hair can play in relation to a women’s self-confidence and sense of self.

It turns out that, like most modern health complaints, stress, diet and hormonal imbalances are largely to blame. Thankfully, in a lot of cases, all it takes is a trip to the doctor (or specifically to trichologists, dermatologists and endocrinologists, who specialise in hair problems) to figure out which factors are at play and how normal hair growth can return once again.

Here, we list the main reasons why you (or someone you know) could be suffering from premature hair loss. As with any health concern, knowledge and swift action is the best way to reverse the effects and prevent it from reoccurring down the line.

Stress

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Stress is a modern affliction that many young women are experiencing these days, and many of us don’t realise how failing to address or manage this stress can lead to hair loss.

Stress-induced hair loss has been proven in various studies. In one study, hair growth stopped amongst mice who were exposed to loud noises, while another study found that animals (monkeys) with higher levels of cortisol experienced a greater likelihood of hair loss than those with lower levels of the stress hormone.

Maybe it’s following a traumatic event, or maybe the stress has been building up over a long period of time, either way, it’s worth taking a step back to consider what issues might be at play if you start to notice your hair falling out. Often as soon as certain factors are addressed the hair will start growing again as normal.            

Related: Why 'forest therapy' is the new stress-buster you've been looking for

Androgenetic alopecia

Young women who come from families that experience the early onset of hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia) may be more susceptible to the condition. In these cases, women will usually notice significant hair loss from the parting/ top of the crown, but they can also notice random bald spots throughout the scalp. If you think you could be at risk, consult your doctor sooner rather than later, as treatment is available.

Diet & Weight Loss

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Losing a significant amount of weight in a short space of time can greatly increase a woman’s risk of hair loss. This is usually related to an iron deficiency or an insufficient intake of protein. Extreme dieting is often to blame for the body shutting down hair production, simply because the body is not receiving the nutrients needed for hair growth. Indeed, the hair loss could also be due to increased stress levels connected to a preoccupation with weight loss, which is not uncommon in these image-centric times.

If you are experiencing unexpected hair loss and you know that your weight and food consumption has changed, then consult a registered dietician who will be able to advise you on a healthy eating programme. It may simply be a case of eating more of what you used to in order for things to get back to normal.

Related: An ode to the 'Mom Bod'

Pregnancy

Due to the incredible levels of stress and strain put on the body during labour, women can often notice hair loss in the post-pregnancy period. This is very common and should generally not cause any concern. In general, the hair will typically grow back within a few months of giving birth.

Hormones

A change in hormones in menopausal women is widely known to cause hair loss. With this in mind, it would make sense that anything which causes hormone fluctuation in younger women (e.g. the contraceptive pill, which contain artificial progestins that act like male hormones, and are known to shrink and damage the hair follicle) might yield similar results. If you’ve recently changed your pill and have noticed sudden hair loss since, it’s worth broaching this with your GP. Ideally, you’ll be prescribed a pill that has a lower hormone count, or directed towards other contraceptive methods and options.

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Thyroid function

If you suffer from an under or over-functioning thyroid (hypo/ hyperthyroidism), you may also find yourself experiencing the autoimmune condition, Alopecia Areata, which causes significant hair loss. Another condition which is associated with a malfunctioning thyroid is Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which causes a range of ailments amongst sufferers, including hair loss.

Again, if you are suffering from unexpected hair loss, make an appointment with your GP as soon as possible. The sooner you address the issue, the higher your chances of getting your mane back to its former glory.

Related: All the New Yorkers are freezing their eggs, so why aren't we?

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