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What causes hair loss for women?

Here are some facts, causes and potential treatment options for female hair loss

Men lose their hair as they get older, we all know that, and many of them struggle to come to terms with it. But for those born as a female hair loss is common too with around 50 per cent of those over the age of 65 having pattern baldness, which is one of the main causes of female hair loss.

Despite this being a common experience, hair loss can be very distressing for women as they feel there’s a stigma about going bald. For many women hair is an important part of what makes them feel feminine and attractive.

We typically lose between 50 and 100 hairs every day as part of the normal process. One of the illnesses that causes hair loss in females is known as alopecia.

What causes hair loss for females?


There are many different causes of female hair loss, and many different types of hair loss. Alopecia can be anything from a gradual thinning to a sudden total loss of hair. The most common, female pattern baldness, is thought to be inherited and affects older women.

Hair loss is also widespread among women who have recently given birth, with 50 per cent saying they lose more hair than usual in the weeks after having a baby.

But hair loss can affect women of any age and be a result of extreme stress, a medical condition or as the side-effect of a medication or treatment (i.e. chemotherapy).

Female hair loss can be permanent


Some types of hair loss are permanent, like male and female pattern baldness. This type of hair loss usually runs in the family.

Other types of hair loss may be temporary. They can be a symptom of:

  • Illness

  • Stress

  • Cancer treatment

  • Weight loss

  • Iron deficiency

Hair loss treatments for females


Hair lotion containing minoxidil has been proven to help with female pattern baldness. Most users experience improvements with 25% of women reporting hair regrowth.

Most hair loss treatments for women are not available on the NHS, so you will have to pay for them. However, you could look to cover up your hair loss with wigs, hats or scarves. If you have around 50 per cent hair loss or more, you could be eligible for a wig on the NHS.

The psychological effects of female hair loss can be serious


It’s important to think about the mental impact of hair loss for women.

Even if your hair loss is temporary, things will be easier if you can accept the way you look and learn to live with it.

Talk to friends and family about your hair loss and the support you need and try to be patient as, in many cases, hair loss is temporary.

Some hair loss needs action


Make an appointment to see your GP if:

  • You have sudden hair loss

  • You have bald patches

  • Your hair is coming out in clumps

  • Your head itches and burns

  • You're worried

Your GP may advice you on the best female hair loss treatment options and suggest ways to cope.

Alternatively, if you’re a Benenden Health member, you can access 24/7 GP Helpline.

Help for female hair loss is available


There are alopecia support groups around the country. Find your nearest at https://www.alopecia.org.uk/Pages/Category/find-a-support-group.

If you’re concerned about any potential symptoms or have any questions about hair loss, you can make an appointment to see your GP. Alternatively, if you are a Benenden Health member, you can call our helpline for medical advice from a qualified UK-based GP, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Learn more about 24/7 GP Helpline

 

About our healthcare


Benenden Health provides affordable private healthcare for everyone, giving you access to services such as our 24/7 GP Helpline and Mental Health Helpline straight away. Once you’ve been a member for six months you can request access to diagnostic consultations and tests, and if needed, treatment and surgery.

You'll also have access to a wealth of health and wellbeing articles, videos and advice on a range of health issues.

Medically reviewed by Cheryl Lythgoe on 10th December 2021. Next review date: 10th December 2022.