Hair shedding in Women: Causes to Think About

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Hair shedding in WomenHair shedding issues are fairly common among women - and more common in women than men. The medical  lingo for hair shedding is "telogen effluvium"

Anyone with excessive daily hair shedding needs careful in office work up. Blood testing is essential but only the start. A detailed history is needed. A full examination is needed. 


What are the top causes of hair shedding in pre-menopausal women? The top causes are:

1. low iron levels
2. thyroid problems
3. crash diets and nutritional deficiency
4. starting and stopping birth control
5. early stages of genetic hair loss
6. high stress
7. systemic illness - rare
8. autoimmune hair conditions (alopecia areata, lichen planopilaris) - rare


What blood profiles are required for women with hair shedding?Blood tests for basic blood counts (hemoglobin), thyroid studies, iron (ferritin) are absolutely essential for any female with excessive daily shedding. However, a whole array of other tests might be helpful too depending on the info uncovered during the appointment. These include: inflammatory markers (ESR), tests for hormones (LH, FSH, DHEAS, free and total testosterone, androstenedione, estradiol, prolactin). A scalp biopsy is usually not needed for most women.


TREATMENT OPTIONSFIrst and foremost, any abnormalities in the blood work must be  addressed. Iron levels must be raised if found to be low. Thyroid levels  must also improved if low. Other treatments can be considered too : minoxidil, low level laser therapy, biotin, L-lysine, Viviscal, platelet rich plasma and sometimes cysteine. While these options don't help everyone - they do help a significant proportion. 

Article by
Vancouver Dermatologist