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Getting to the root cause of hair loss in women

Female Hair Loss

Q: My sister's hair seems to be falling out at a faster rate than normal. What could be causing this?

"Hair loss in women is more common than you might think and can cause emotional distress for those experiencing it," says Kimberly Mullinax, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at ​Kelsey-Seybold. Her clinical interests include autoimmune disorders, which sometimes play a part in hair loss.

Dr. Mullinax says the average person loses between 50-150 strands of hair a day – more when hair is washed, so it's normal to lose what may sometimes feel like a lot of hair per day.

"If you start noticing an unusual amount of hair loss or patches of thinning hair, there could be several reasons for this. First, it could be androgenetic alopecia, a hereditary condition that causes female pattern hair loss. This is the most common reason for hair loss in men and women," Dr. Mullinax explains.

She says there could be other reasons for female hair loss. Among these are hormonal problems like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and autoimmune disorders such as lupus or lichen planopilaris. Some medications and changes in medications can also lead to hair loss.

Additionally, some hair treatments and hair styles can cause damage to the hair follicles. Over time, this can cause scarring hair loss.

Other times the hair loss can be brought on by changes in the body, such as pregnancy, thyroid disorders or anemia. Stress or dramatic weight loss can also play a part.

​​"If you believe you're experiencing hair loss, see a dermatologist so if treatment is available it can be started as soon as possible. I also recommend avoiding tight hair styles and curtailing the use of blow dryers and flat irons," says Dr. Mullinax.

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Kimberly Mullinax, MD

​I strive to bring compassion, education and medical science to my patients to provide the best dermatologic care. When there is listening and understanding, there is less anxiety and better ability to follow-through with the treatment plan.​