It’s normal to shed about 100 hairs each day as old hairs are replaced by new ones But some women have hair loss—called alopecia (AL-uh-PEE-shuh). Hair loss can happen for many reasons: l Female-pattern baldness causes hair to thin, but rarely leads to total baldness. It tends to run in families. l Alopecia areata (AR-ee-AYT-uh) is an autoimmune disease that causes patchy hair loss on the scalp, face, or other areas of your body. l Hormone changes during and after pregnancy. l Underlying health problems, such as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) or thyroid disease.l Certain medicines, such as birth con- trol pills or those to treat cancer, ar- thritis, depression, or heart problems. l Extreme stress, such as from a major illness. l Hairstyles that twist or pull hair. Whether or not hair will grow back depends on the cause of hair loss. Some medicines can help speed up the growth of new hair. If hair loss is permanent, you can try hair weaving or changing your hairstyle. Or talk with your doctor about other options, such as a hair transplant.
When dark, thick hair grows on a wom- an’s face, chest, belly, or back, the condi- tion is called hirsutism (HUR-suh-TIZ- uhm). Health problems and family genes can cause high levels of male hormones, which can result in hirsutism. If you are overweight, try losing weight, which reduces male hormone levels. Consider methods for removal of unwanted hair. (See page 312 for more information.) Also, ask your doctor about medicines to slow or reduce hair growth.
People with trichotillomania (TRIH- koh-TIL-uh-MAY-nee-uh) have a strong urge to pull out their hair, which leads to visible hair loss. Some people with this hair-pulling disorder also pluck their eyebrows, eyelashes, and body hair. Hair pulling gives people with this dis- order a sense of relief or pleasure. But it also is a source of distress and shame. Behavioral therapy and medicines can help a person stop hair pulling.