Did you know that wearing tight ponytails can irritate your scalp and cause hair to fall?
For women, hair means way more than a bundle of fibres.
Long or short, bouncy or straight, it's an expression of their style and personality. Losing those lovely tresses can really freak them out.
Hair loss -- a nightmare
Whether it's short or long-term, women lose hair the same way men do.
It might thin all over, or your centre part could get wider and wider.
You might even get a bald spot at the crown of your head.
It's rare but women also have a receding front hairline.
How does hair grow?
Your scalp has about 1,00,000 hair (follicles). Each one has its own life cycle.
A follicle produces a single (strand of) hair that grows at a rate of half an inch per month.
It stays for two to six years, then stops growing for about a month.
When the next cycle starts, that hair falls out.
At any given time, most of your hair are in the growth phase.
How much hair loss is normal?
Most people shed about 50 to 100 (strands of) hair each day.
Don't worry if you find a few in your hairbrush or on your clothes.
But if it starts to fall out in clumps or if you notice it getting thinner over time, check with your dermatologist.
What are the root causes of hair loss?
There's no single cause.
Triggers range from medical conditions, stress to lifestyle factors, including what you eat.
Your genes play a role, too. Sometimes there may not be a specific reason.
Major Hair Loss Triggers in women
If the thyroid makes too much or too little thyroid hormone, your hair growth cycle might get affected.
You may develop progressive thinning of hair all over the scalp.
PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome)
If you have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, your hormones are always shaky.
Your body makes more male hormones or androgen, than it should.
This can cause extra hair on your face and body, while the hair on your head thins out.
PCOS can also lead to ovulation problems, acne and weight gain.
But sometimes thinning hair is the only obvious sign.
You might notice your hair seems fuller during pregnancy. That's because high hormone levels keep resting hair from falling out.
But after the baby comes, things go back to normal and those strands will fall out quickly.
You could lose a lot of hair at once. It could take up to two years for your lovely hair to return to normal.
The hormones that suppress ovulation can also thin out your hair.
You can also lose hair when you stop taking the pill.
Drugs like blood thinners which treat high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, depression; methotrexate, cholesterol lowering medications, chemotherapeutic agents, etc. can cause hair loss.
You may lose more than just weight with a fad diet. And if you lose weight more rapidly, you might also lose hair in a couple of months.
A longstanding deficiency of iron, folic acid and other nutrients can also trigger off hair loss and thinning.
Wearing tight ponytails can irritate your scalp and cause hair to fall.
Long-term use of these styles can scar your scalp and lead to permanent hair loss.
Chemo and radiation therapy -- two of the most widely used therapies -- can take a toll on your hair.
In their quest to kill cancer cells, both can harm hair follicles and trigger dramatic hair loss.
But the damage is almost always short-lived. Once your treatment is finished, hair usually grows back.
High-level physical or emotional stress can cause you to suddenly shed huge amounts of hair. The process may last six to eight months.
Examples of extreme stress are:
- Serious illness
- Major surgery
- Trauma involving blood loss
- Severe emotional distress
Hope this gives you a fair idea about the possible reasons for losing your crowning glory.
The good news is, there's often a way to fix it.
The author Dr Jolly Shah Kapadia is a dermatologist and is associated with several clinics in Thane and Mumbai.