As women, our hair is often what we feel defines our femininity and personality. Whether we choose to wear our hair long or have it cut in a short, stylish, manageable style, we treasure our locks and spend hours each week caring for them – washing them, drying them, having them styled, straightening, curling, dyeing.
But what happens when our hair starts to disappear? Normally, hair grows about a centimetre per month. It grows in cycles so that while some is growing, other hair is shedding. It’s perfectly normal to find hair in the plughole or in our hairbrushes after showering or brushing our hair, and sometimes we lose more hair than at other times.
But if you lose more hair than you replenish, you are suffering from hair loss that might be a problem. There are several possible causes of hair loss and depending on the cause there may, or may not, be a solution to the problem.
Alopecia is perhaps the most widely-known cause of hair loss – it is what celebrity Gail Porter suffers from and she has been unafraid to show the world that baldness can actually be very beautiful. Alopecia can be hereditary (so you’re more likely to suffer from it if you have a close relative who suffers from it). But it can happen for no apparent reason and is a highly distressing condition for many women as it happens rapidly, beginning with a small bald patch and quickly leads to loss of most of the hair on the scalp and other areas of the body.
Other types of alopecia can be caused by a scarring condition or by an autoimmune disorder. Stress and anxiety can be a major cause of hair loss, as can trichotillomania (compulsive pulling-out of hair, usually due to come compulsive behaviour or mental anxiety, or just through habit).
Telogen Effluvium can be a type of hair loss that affects women – it is the name for the hair loss that happens after a bereavement or severe period of stress or depression. Poor nutrition can also lead to hair loss.
Identifying the cause, perhaps with the help of your GP, can help you to find the right treatment.