Hair Loss in Women and Dieting Stress

Going on a diet isn’t a natural thing to do. Women and men are genetically programmed to eat food when and where it is available. Storing the food as fat in the body is the way it prepares for times when it is scarce. Continually being on a diet puts the body under a lot of stress and this may change the growth cycles of hair follicles and cause hair loss.

Stress is a common trigger for hair loss in women. The medical name for this condition is telogen effluvium. It leads to a general thinning of the hair and can in itself be quite worrying when it occurs. This obviously can lead to more stress and more hair loss. The condition itself is usually short lived and cures itself given enough time. However, for a few women the condition can become more long lived and Chronic. This is when it becomes a real problem.

The stress triggers can come in a number of forms from the hormonal system to reactions to certain medicines, illness and some kinds of dieting. Generally the effects don’t appear until some time after the trigger has occurred. It results in an over all thinning of the scalp hairs and other areas of the body rather than a definite bald patch. There can be a tendency for women with the condition to be diagnosed as being anxious or neurotic rather than actually looking for a direct trigger.

Telogen effluvium relates to the normal growth cycle of hair. Hair follicles have two phases within this cycle. The one phase involves growth and the other resting. The growth phase lasts around three years, where as the resting phase is usually about three months. Telogen is the word used to refer to the period of resting. Usually only about fifteen percent of the hair is in the telogen phase. However, sudden stress can push the number up significantly. These hairs are shed and the follicles start resting. After about three months the hairs start to grow again and the normal growth returns. This means that after about six months the condition should start to return to normal.

Although the results of Telogen Effluvium are quite striking there is no real cure for it, other than getting over the stressful event and waiting for the hair to return. In the case of the chronic persistent versions of this condition women should look more carefully at their life style. Often it is a combination of problems that lead to the hair loss. High pressure jobs, trying to cope with work and family obligations, crash diets, vegetarian diets, yo yo diets and low protein diets all add to the amount of hair loss in women. Some women seek to redress the balance of dieting nutrient loss by taking pills, but this should be avoided. A healthy well balanced diet should be the aim in this situation.

Another chronic form of this condition version involves having low amounts of the iron compound Serum Ferritin in the blood. A doctor should do a blood test to establish if this is the cause of the hair loss. It has been found that up to thirty percent of female hair loss is due to low iron levels. Once a diagnosis has been made iron supplements can be taken and it will be quickly found that hair loss will decrease and the condition will improve.

Any form of dieting is going to put the body under stress. This stress can affect women’s hair loss. Hair loss women often have a number of stresses that combine together to cause the problem. The best cure is to identify the problems that cause the stress and remove them.


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