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Signs of hair loss

Not sure if you need to start using hair loss treatment? Look at these early signs of hair loss:

Four signs of hereditary hair loss

How can I tell if my hair is shedding more than normal?

It’s likely that if your hair is shedding more than normal, you’ve already noticed. Losing more hair in the shower? Are you finding more strands of hair on your hair brush?

While these signs of increased shedding could indicate a form of hair loss, the best way to know if you have female pattern hair loss is by looking at your pattern of hair loss and your family history. Does the hair on the top and crown of your head appear particularly sparse? Does your family have a history of hair loss? If so, it’s entirely possible you’re experiencing female pattern hair loss.

Pay attention to your parting

Many women say their hair parting was one of the first things that changed while in the early stages of hair loss. If your parting has begun to widen, and there doesn’t seem to be a way to cover it the way you used to, you may be experiencing hair loss.

Note your family history

Female pattern hair loss is genetic, so your first step should be to look to other family members to see if their hair has thinned. On the flipside, if you’re experiencing rapid hair loss and have no family history of hair loss it would be best to check with your doctor to help understand what could be causing it.

How Female Pattern Hair Loss Happens

The most common reason for hair loss in women is androgenetic alopecia (AGA), also known as female pattern hair loss. Genetics, hormones, and age cause changes to your hair follicles, which lead to this condition.

The Hair Growth Cycle

The hair growth cycle has three phases. Once you understand the natural process occurring in your follicles during these three phases you can start taking steps to help your hair grow.

Phase 1: Growth (or anagen) phase

For every hair on your head, the cycle begins with the growth phase, which lasts from 3 to 5 years. The hair grows at 1cm a month and usually about 85% of your hair is in anagen phase.

If you are experiencing androgenetic alopecia female pattern hair loss, you may still notice your hair growing. However, your follicles will continue to shrink, producing finer, shorter, and harder-to-see hair with each cycle until they are no longer able to make new hair.

Phase 2: Transitional (or catagen) phase

Hair enters a transitional phase which lasts around two weeks. This is when the cells at the base of the hair stop growing, just as they would in a healthy follicle.

Phase 3: Resting (or telogen) phase

After the transitional phase, the hair follicles enter a 3-month resting phase. At the end of the resting phase the hair is shed, and a new hair replaces it and the growing cycle starts again.

Speaking to a healthcare professional about women's hair loss

STEP 1: Create a simple diary to track your hair health

Jot down a list of out-of-the-ordinary experiences you have been having with your hair, such as more frequent and/or larger clumps of hair in the drain after showering, or an increased number of strands on your pillow. Take these daily observations over a 1- to 2-month time period. These are all things you want to mention to your healthcare professional.

STEP 2: Feel free to bring the evidence

Jot down a list of all the self-diagnostic tools and tests you’ve used and the results from these tests. Bring them with you to your appointment. You may also bring photos of your scalp. Some women bring in clumps of hair in a plastic bag for their healthcare professional to examine. Don’t be shy. He or she is there to help you.

STEP 3: Tell your healthcare professional about lifestyle habits or changes that may be related to hair loss

Although hair loss can be due to genetic factors, remember that there are still other causes of hair loss in women, such as long-term everyday stress and, in more rare cases, a medical condition (perhaps related to your thyroid).

STEP 4: Inquire if any further testing is necessary

Expect your healthcare professional to ask further questions and to do a detailed review of your medical history covering topics such as recent childbirth, surgeries or cancer treatments (chemotherapy or radiotherapy), menopause, and familial history of hereditary androgenetic alopecia (e.g. genetic hair loss). To make the most of this visit, be sure to inquire about your family’s medical history, particularly pertaining to hair loss.