We often associate hair loss with men. But hair loss in women is more common than you may think: nearly 40% of all cases of severe hair thinning occur in females. Regrettably, we just don’t talk about it. But hair thinning is an integral part of a woman’s identity, and hair is often a window into a woman’s health. Indeed, hair thinning in women is usually a warning sign that something is off-balance. Women can experience hair thinning all over the head, but it is quite common on the crown of the head. Let’s take a look at what causes hair thinning and how to stop it in its tracks.
What is Crown Thinning Hair?
The crown of your head is the highest point of your head. It is slightly toward the back of your head and is sometimes called the vertex. Both men and women can lose hair on the crown of their head. However, women are more likely to have thinning hair in this region compared to other areas like the hairline. Sometimes, it can be hard to visualize the crown of your head, given its location. Therefore, it is common to miss early signs of crown hair thinning.
What Causes Crown Thinning Hair in Females?
Beyond looks and self-expression, our hair provides information about our overall health status. Hair thinning around the crown of our head can tell us a number of things. Let’s explore the causes of crown thinning hair in women:
Women spend a significant portion of their lives driven by hormonal cycles that regulate everything from menstrual cycles to bones and brains. During the childbearing years, estrogen (primarily) and progesterone play an important role in every system in the body. When anything disrupts that normal balance, it can lead to changes in the hair. Things that can disrupt a woman’s hormonal balance during the childbearing years include:
- Hormonal birth control (pills, IUD, injections, etc.)
- Female-specific health conditions such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)
Women frequently notice hair loss during perimenopause and menopause as well. Perimenopause is the 5-8 years (on average) the precede when a woman reaches menopause. These years include rapid hormone fluctuations that cause hair thinning. When a woman reaches menopause, her estrogen levels fall to low levels for the rest of her life, which can also contribute to crown hair thinning.
Female pattern hair loss
Also known as androgenic alopecia, this condition is inherited. Thus, if you have female (or even male) relatives with this condition, you may also be prone to hair thinning. Women can experience female pattern baldness at any age, but it is most common after a woman reaches menopause. Interestingly, less than half of all women will have a full head of hair by age 65.
If you have crown thinning hair, you may also be deficient in key nutrients that help you grow and maintain healthy hair. Hair is not vital to our ability to survive, so it is often one of the first things to go when our body lacks essential nutrients. Women, in particular, are at higher risk for nutritional deficiencies. Key nutrients for hair health include:
- Vitamin D
Sometimes, it is hard to get all of your essential nutrients through diet. Therefore, it can be helpful to take a supplement specifically designed to promote hair health and growth.
Stress does a number on all systems in our body, and our hair is one of the first things that may be affected. However, stress does not cause hair loss overnight (unless you have a habit of pulling or tugging your hair when you are under stress). Usually, women (and men too) will notice their hair begins to shed about 120 days after a stressful event. This is because stress causes the hair growth cycle to switch from the growing phase to the resting phase before the hair sheds. The resting phase lasts 120 days, so you can expect significant shedding three months after a stressful event.
Hair loss due to stress is called telogen effluvium. In this condition, you can lose around 300 hairs daily, whereas you normally lose between 50-100 per day. Stress that can cause hair loss will manifest in many different forms, including:
- Major life changes
- Trauma or illness
- Periods of emotional stress
Fortunately, hair loss from telogen effluvium is usually temporary, and your hair begins to regrow 6-12 months after the stressful event.
Other medical conditions
Along with conditions that disrupt female hormones, like PCOS, other health conditions can lead to crown thinning hair. For example, hypothyroidism is a common culprit or hair thinning, and women are 5-8 times more likely to have a thyroid condition than men. Autoimmune disorders also disproportionately affect women and often cause hair thinning, including lupus and psoriasis. Furthermore, scalp conditions can also cause hair loss, especially if you itch problematic areas. Conditions that may cause crown thinning include tinea capitis, sebaceous dermatitis, folliculitis, and ringworm.
One of the exciting things about being female (which can also be burdensome) is getting creative with hairstyles. Women often use styling treatments to have different looks, textures, and colors. But these treatments often come at a price. Using hot styling tools, chemical treatments (like perms), and dyes can cause hair thinning at your crown. Certain hairstyles, such as high ponytails, cause traction on hair follicles, which leads to inflammation, breakage, and permanent damage to follicles.
Treating Crown Thinning Hair in Females
First things first: don’t hide from hair thinning. If you notice that your part line is thinning or widening, or your losing hair around your temples or crown, it is a sign that something is amiss. Therefore, it is crucial to meet with your doctor to get to the root of what is causing hair thinning. Once you know the cause, you can then take action. Perhaps it is a change in birth control, or your thyroid is not producing enough thyroid hormone - or maybe you are iron deficient. A visit to your doctor will help rule out medical causes behind your hair thinning.
While you wait for your doctor’s appointment, take other actions to suppress hair loss as quickly as possible.
- Stop harsh hair treatments and avoid styling to give your hair a chance to rest and recover.
- Focus on your diet by making sure you get all of your essential nutrients. If you struggle to get everything you need to support hair health, start taking a supplement.
- Drink plenty of water. It is important to keep in mind that a healthy scalp leads to healthy hair, so if your skin is dry, your hair will be brittle and more prone to breakage.
- Like major stressful events, chronic levels of stress can cause hair thinning. Figure out ways you can reduce stress in your daily life so that you decrease cortisol levels. Cortisol takes energy away from non-essential functions like hair growth.
- Take inventory of your hair products. Women tend to use quite a few hair products, but many are full of harsh chemicals that irritate and inflame your scalp and follicles.
Many women suffer from hereditary hair loss. While you can’t change your DNA, you can use cutting-edge hair care products to regrow your hair. Look for products that contain nanoxidil 5% delivered through nanosome technology. Nanoxidil has no side effects and is a more effective solution than minoxidil, an older compound found in Rogaine. Nanoxidil is a powerful agent that stops crown thinning in women, and starts and maintains new growth.