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Four common causes of hair loss in women

POSTED: 18 December 2017

Around four in ten women will suffer hair loss at some point in their lives. 

Asim Shahmalak from Crown Clinic is one of Britain's most eminent hair transplant surgeons. He has been the hair loss expert on the Channel 4 medical show, Embarrassing Bodies. He has carried out two hair transplants on doctor Christian Jessen, presenter of Embarrassing Bodies, using the follicular unit transplantation (FUT) method. His other celebrity patients include Gogglebox star Chris Butland-Steed, Calum Best, Homes Under The Hammer presenter Martin Roberts, football pundit Didi Hamann, who all opted for the follicular unit extraction (FUE) method. 
He has also pioneered the introduction of new hair procedures in the UK. He carried out the first eyelash transplant in the UK - on a woman from Manchester in 2009. He is one of the few surgeons to carry out eyebrow, beard and sideburn transplants.

Here he explains four commons causes of hair loss in women. 

Thinning hair - menopause.

Dr Shahmalak said: ''Thinning hair does happen in around 30% of women going through the menopause. This typically happens between the ages of 40 and 55 with the most common ages between 45 and 50. The changes in a woman's body lead to hormonal imbalances which result in hair loss for around a third of women.
''The most effective way of treating this is HRT - hormone replacement therapy. This is effective in restoring the hair in around 50% of cases.
''Unfortunately, hair lost during the menopause does not grow back in women for whom HRT was not effective. This can be very stressful for women who, like men, suffer a loss of self-esteem through having thinning hair. Like men, they can treat this hair loss with a hair transplant which is effective is more than 90% of cases.
''Around 10% of my hair transplant patients are women - and half of these are post-menopausal. It is wonderful to see women who have lost their hair during what is a vulnerable time of their lives anyway regaining their confidence through having their hair restored. It is one of the most rewarding parts of my work.''

Traction alopecia through pulling hair too tightly

Dr Shahmalak said: ''Traction alopecia through pulling hair too tightly is a fairly common problem, particularly among women of Afro-Caribbean origin. The most famous example is the supermodel Naomi Campbell who was pictured a few years ago with a significant bald patch at the front of her scalp.
''She obviously has access to the best hairdressers in the world and had covered this condition up quite effectively with hair extensions. But her bald patches were highly visible when she has pictured swimming and she was caught unawares by a photographer. Naomi will have damaged her hair follicles permanently at the front of the scalp through pulling hair back too tightly.
''This condition doesn't only affect women. Calum Best, a hair transplant patient of mine at Crown Clinic, damaged his hair permanently by wearing his hair in the so-called 'Croydon Ponytail'- tightly pulled back at the front - when he was in his early 20s. He thinks this lead to his early onset of hair loss. I tend to agree with his analysis. Most hair loss in men is hereditary. There is no significant hair loss in Calum's family. His father, the legendary footballer George Best, had a fine head of hair. So traction alopecia partly explains Calum's early hair loss.''

Bald patches

Dr Shahmalak said: ''Random bald patches can happen to anyone for no particular reason. We call this condition alopecia areata and thankfully it is very rare, though we have all seen people who have gone bald for no reason and remain bald.
''There is very little doctors can do to treat this condition. It is not caused by stress or poor diet - it just happens.
''If it affects the whole scalp, it is called alopecia totalis. This is even rarer than aorta.
''The rarest condition of all is alopecia Universalis - where there is no hair on the body at all. I have only seen one patient with this in almost 30 years of practice.
''One way of treating alopecia is the use of steroids but these aren't always effective.
''Sadly hair transplants tend not to be effective for alopecia sufferers because there is no guarantee that the transplanted hair will grow back.
''Alopecia is an auto-immune condition - for reasons which still baffle doctors the body's own immune system acts against its own hair resulting in hair loss.''

Receding hair

Dr Shahmalak said: 'This happens in women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. This is quite a common condition and it happens when multiple cysts on the ovary lead to a hormonal imbalance and the loss of hair. Women with PCOS will often develop facial hair and new hair on their arms, chest and buttocks, yet they will recede on the scalp. It is an extremely unpleasant condition. It is estimated one in five women in the UK has polycystic ovaries, yet only half of these have any symptoms.
''PCOS is associated with an increased risk of problems in later life, such as type 2 diabetes and high levels of cholesterol.
''Hair can recede through other causes such as crash diets. If you deny the body the right nutrients and proteins it can react in a way which leads to hair loss. If you readjust your diet and start taking the necessary vitamins it should grow back.
''Smokers sometimes complain that their habit has caused hair loss. Smoking is a strong cause of general ill-health and it can delay the healing process causing hair loss.''

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