Hair shedding in Women
Hair shedding problems are common among women. For various reasons they are more common in women than men. The medical term for hair shedding is "telogen effluvium"
Anyone with hair shedding needs careful evaluation. Blood tests are mandatory, essential, "a must" - but not enough. A careful and detailed history is needed. A full examination is needed, including an up close exam using dermoscopy.
What are the main causes of hair shedding in pre-menopausal women?
1. low iron levels
2. thyroid problems
3. crash diets and nutritional deficiency
4. starting and stopping birth control
5. early stages of genetic hair loss
6. high stress
7. systemic illness - rare
8. autoimmune hair conditions (alopecia areata, lichen planopilaris) - rare
What blood tests are needed in women with hair shedding?
Blood tests for basic blood counts, thyroid levels, iron (ferritin) are mandatory for any female with increased shedding. However, a whole array of other tests might be helpful too depending on the info uncovered during the appointment. These include: inflammatory markers (ESR), tests for hormones (LH, FSH, DHEAS, free and total testosterone, androstenedione, estradiol, prolactin). A scalp biopsy is usually not needed for most women.
What do I sometimes recommend for hair shedding problems in women?
Well first and foremost, any abnormalities in the blood work must be corrected. Iron levels must be brought up if low. Thyroid levels improved if low. Other treatments can be considered too : minoxidil, low level laser therapy, biotin, L-lysine, Viviscal, platelet rich plasma and sometimes cysteine.
Do these treatments help everyone?
Do they help some?
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887