Why Am I Losing My Hair? Your Guide to Understanding the 5 Common Types of Alopecia in Women

Significant hair loss can be such a scary, lonely experience, but the truth is you are not alone.

So many women experience alopecia at some point in their lives, and understanding what exactly is happening can be a big step towards managing this condition – both in alleviating anxiety and even in stimulating new hair growth!

To help you understand more about alopecia in women, I’m going to walk you through five of the most common types, including

  1. alopecia areata
  2. androgenic alopecia
  3. postpartum alopecia
  4. traction alopecia
  5. telogen effluvium

Before we dive into each form, let’s first define alopecia in a broader sense.

What is alopecia?

Alopecia, in simple terms, is a condition that causes hair to fall out. It's more common than you might think, and definitely nothing to be embarrassed about.

Hormones, stress, age, and genetics all play a role in the different forms of alopecia, and, depending on which one you have, there are a few management options open to you.

However, your very first step should be to talk with your healthcare professional, as they can diagnose your condition, then help you choose the best solution for you.

1. Alopecia areata

This type of alopecia occurs when your immune system mistakenly attacks your hair follicles, causing inflammation and eventual hair loss.

Signs of alopecia areata
If you notice round patches of hair loss on your scalp or body, it could be alopecia areata.

How to treat
To help manage this condition, topical treatments that contain caffeine, minoxidil or corticosteroids, can help stimulate hair growth – especially when used in conjunction with microneedling the scalp with a Derma Roller.

2. Androgenic alopecia

Commonly known as male/female pattern hair loss or baldness, androgenic alopecia is often related to hormonal changes, specifically an increase in the hormone, DHT. Too much DHT (and a genetic sensitivity to it) can shrink your hair follicles and shorten the hair growth cycle.

Signs of androgenic alopecia
This type of alopecia typically leads to a general thinning and shortening of hair across the entire scalp.

How to treat
There are a variety of treatment options available, such as finasteride and minoxidil, but those can have some unwanted side effects like lethargy and low blood pressure.

There are some natural options out there like saw palmetto, curcumin (turmeric),  which can all help to keep hair in its natural growth phase for longer.

3. Postpartum alopecia

New mothers, this one's for you. After childbirth, hormonal changes (particularly the drop in estrogen) can lead to temporary hair loss known as postpartum alopecia. Though it can be alarming, it's usually temporary.

Signs of postpartum alopecia
You may see thinning hair and a lot more shedding than usual.

How to treat
To replenish your body with nutrients so it can grow healthier, make sure you’re eating a balanced diet and taking a daily hair vitamin.

And, as much as you can, try to be patient. Your luscious locks will likely return within a few months once your hormones balance out again.

4. Traction alopecia

Traction alopecia is often caused by hairstyles that pull the hair tight, like ponytails or braids. The good news is that this form of alopecia is totally preventable and often reversible by changing your hair habits!

Signs of traction alopecia
You may notice breakage and thinning, especially where the hair is physically held in place.

How to treat
Make sure you allow your hair to rest! Let your hair down, avoid heat styling, use gentle hair care products, and take a daily hair vitamin.

All of these steps combined will help your hair to rest and recover.

5. Telogen effluvium

This is a temporary form of hair loss that can be triggered by a significant stressor (like major surgery or severe emotional stress).

The good news is that once the stressor is removed, your hair growth cycle will likely normalize, and so grow back to its previous glory!

Signs of telogen effluvium
You may notice increased shedding of hair, more breakage, and less density as your hair is staying in its resting and shedding phase for longer.

How to support your body 
First, eliminate stressors (if possible). Then, try to relax and give yourself scalp massages with tools like a scalp massager to help stimulate blood flow to the area, which can help with regrowth.

You’ll also want to make sure you’re eating a healthy diet and supplementing with a daily hair vitamin  to give your body the nutrients it needs in this time of stress.

Remember, it's okay to take care of yourself first. Your body, including your hair, will thank you!

Read more about Telogen Effluvium here.