“I’m a female and my hair is falling out!!! Why???”
Omg, if I had a dollar for every time I typed that question into google I would have two private islands by now, HAHA. I started losing my hair when I was 19, and have been dealing with hair loss for the past 13 years. If your hair has started thinning or falling out, it can be pretty scary and isolating. Let’s talk about what can cause hair loss, and what you can expect from the different types of hair loss.
I want to disclaim that I am in no way a qualified doctor or dermatologist and am speaking from information I have learnt from women in the hair loss community and my own research. If you think you have hair loss, contact your doctor for professional advice.
Telogen Effluvium (TE)
Telogen Effluvium is a type of hair loss where a stressful event causes hair to fall out. Did you know that your hair has a life cycle? There are three phases in the hair life cycle; the anagen phase (growing), the catagen phase (transition) and telogen phase (resting). A stressful life event, such as a surgery, having a baby, a break up, loss etc, can push the hair to go into the telogen phase very quickly. At first, the hair stays attached to your head, seemingly strong and healthy, but toward the end of the telogen phase (2-4 months later), the hair is pushed out of the scalp causing significant hair shedding. People often describe that their hair is falling out from the root.
So what can you expect with TE? This type of hair loss usually only affects 50% of your scalp and you might notice diffused thinning all over your head, especially on your crown. But remember how I said hair has its own life cycle? That’s a good thing here! Once your hair moves back into the anagen phase, the growing phase, your hair is likely to grow back. TE is usually only temporary and will last 3-6 months.
However, there are chronic forms of TE and a lot of women have said that TE has triggered Androgenic Alopecia.
Androgenic Alopecia (AGA)
That was Kim’s story. Her hair loss was triggered by a traumatic event which led to her developing Androgenic Alopecia. Let’s break down what Androgenic Alopecia is. ‘Androgens’ are hormones which stimulate hair growth and ‘Alopecia’ is the medical term for hair loss. AGA is a genetic form of hair loss which is often hereditary. AGA can be triggered early in life by stressful events, but usually develops after puberty. It’s never an instantaneous thing. You’re not going to go to sleep one night and waking up with thin hair the next. AGA is a gradual, slow form of hair loss which will slowly occur over the course of your life.
What might you experience with Androgenic Alopecia? This type of hair loss is usually a diffused thinning all over the scalp, but mainly around the crown area. A lot of women notice their part line widens, as this is where most of the hair loss occurs. With AGA, you’re very unlikely to lose all your hair, but will notice the volume of your hair decreases over the course of many years. For many women who once had very thick hair, they may not even notice their hair loss for quite some time. AGA is more predictable than other types of hair loss and you’ll usually notice the same amount of hair loss each year.
Alopecia Areata (AA)
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition which usually begins before the age of 40, but commonly starts in childhood. AA is where you begin losing hair in patches, usually circular in shape. This hair loss can often extend all around the body. If you have AA, you might notice you have a circular patch of hair loss on your arms, legs and even eyebrows. Alopecia Areata, and all the other types of Alopecia we’re about to talk about, are pretty unpredictable. For some women, their bald patches are permanent, and never change. For others, their patches may come and go. They may go years without having a hair loss patch and then BAM… several patches all over their head and body.
Holly’s hair loss actually started like this when she was just 6 years old!
Alopecia Totalis (AT)
Alopecia Totalis is total hair loss all over your scalp. AT is actually an advanced form of Alopecia Areata. The exact cause of AT is unknown, but it is likely a type of genetic autoimmune condition. 20% of people with AT have someone in their family with some form of Alopecia.
If you have AT, your hair loss could happen gradually or all at once. Most people will experience some patchy hair loss before the total loss of their hair. Holly had this form of hair loss all through her adolescence.
Alopecia Universalis (AU)
Alopecia Universalis, the ‘queen bee’ of all hair loss. Alopecia Universalis is a type of hair loss where you lose all of the hair on your body. Yep, all of it. That means no eyelashes, no arm hairs, no ear hairs, no nostril hairs, nothing! Again, this type of hair loss is super unpredictable, it can happen quite quickly or over many years. It wasn’t until Holly was in her 20’s that she lost all of her hair. Is it a lifelong thing? It’s hard to know. Most people who develop this type of hair loss will have it for the rest of their life, and others will wake up one day with their hair growing back. It’s incredibly unpredictable.
These are just some of the types of hair loss that are out there. So much of the dialogue around hair loss is centered towards men, so it’s important to us that we shine a light on this issue that 50% of women experience.
You Are Not Your Hair Loss Diagnosis
But I don’t like to dwell on the negatives of hair loss for too long anymore. What good does that do for me? Instead I focus on how incredibly strong and powerful hair loss has made me. Experiencing hair loss brought me to my lowest, but I fought through it and now I feel UNBREAKABLE!
I also get to have the best hair of my LIFE. No, seriously, I’m not joking. My hair was never as good as my topper is. And it literally takes me 7 seconds to do my hair, rather than spending HOURS curling or straightening my hair like I did before my hair loss. Oh and if you’re an Alopecia Universalis babe, never having to shave your legs again is a massive bonus too!
Plus, I get to be part of a ‘secret’ hair loss club. I have made life long friends who support me not only through my hair loss, but through life. The hair loss community is seriously incredible. If you’re not already part of our private Facebook group, we’d love to have you, click HERE to join.