Understanding hair loss can be compared to understanding how a garden grows. The way hair grows is a result of what is happening “underground”. Hair grows in three different cycles: anagen, catagen, and telogen. About 90% of hair on the head is in the anagen phase, which lasts anywhere from 2 to 8 years. The catagen, or transition phase, typically lasts 2-3 weeks, during which the hair follicle shrinks. During the telogen cycle, which lasts around 2 to 4, the hair rests. An overwhelming majority of the time the hair is on the scalp, it is growing. Only about 10% of the strands are in transition or resting at any time. Hair grows about 6 inches a year for most people. Hair loss can be caused by many things, including medication, illness, infections, or chemicals. Taking hormones can change hair growth for anyone, and researchers are looking into how it affects people who are transgender or nonbinary, specifically. Hair loss may seem like a more prominent problem in people assigned male at birth, but women are nearly as likely to lose or have thinning hair. Female pattern baldness is a hereditary condition that affects about 30 million American women, according to the America Academy of Dermatology, and is the most common kind of hair loss. Hair loss can also be caused by illnesses such as thyroid disorders, anemia, autoimmune diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome, and skin conditions such as psoriasis and seborrheic dermatitis. Other causes include extreme stress, physical trauma like surgery or intense illness, dramatic weight loss over a short period of time, and taking too much vitamin A. Hairstyles like cornrows or too-tight braids can cause hair loss called traction alopecia. Other styling habits that can lead to problems include high heat from a blow dryer or flat iron, harsh chemicals from bleach, perms, or other products, tightly pulled hair from clips, bands, or pins, over-shampooing or brushing and combing too much, especially when your hair is wet. Anyone can experience androgenetic alopecia. These hair changes can make it hard to maintain how you want to look, especially if you are transgender or nonbinary.
Causes of Hair Loss in Women