Disorders That Cause Hair Loss in Women

There are a number of reasons why a woman may start losing her hair. Besides hormonal changes associated with perimenopause, menopause and child birth, a woman can suffer from a disorder that leads to an excessive or abnormal loss of hair. Some forms of hair loss are permanent while others are only temporary; it all depends on the cause of the condition.

Androgenetic Alopecia

The American Hair Loss Association explains that the most common cause of hair loss in women is androgenetic alopecia. More commonly referred to as female-pattern baldness, it’s a condition characterized by an excessive amount of hair fall along the top of the head. It’s caused by an androgen known as dihydrotestosterone, which is derived from the hormone testosterone. Follicles sensitive to this androgen shrink in size, causing the hair to gradually shed and not return.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is another disorder that can cause hair loss in women, notes the Mayo Clinic. Not much is understood about this condition, but it’s considered an autoimmune disease. However, there is also a genetic component, as it is known to run in families. Regardless of how or why it develops, women suffering from this condition lose their hair in patches or over the entirety of the scalp, although the hair often returns without medical intervention.

Telogen Effluvium

Another condition linked to female hair loss is telogen effluvium, advises the American Hair Loss Association. This disorder is marked by a sudden shift in the life cycle of the hair. The majority of your hair moves from the growth phase to the shedding phase. This may produce clumps of hair loss to more expansive balding along the scalp. Most of the time, this condition is linked to a trigger. Common triggers are stress, infection, weight loss or even a surgical procedure, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Cicatricial Alopecia

The Mayo Clinic also lists cicatricial alopecia as another condition contributing to hair loss in women. With this form of alopecia, inflammation sets into the scalp, damaging and scarring the hair follicles. When this occurs, the hair sheds. The follicular scarring doesn’t allow the regrowth of hair, so cicatricial alopecia is permanent. It’s often linked to lichen planus, a disease associated with the immune system that causes inflammation of the scalp. It may also be linked to lupus, a chronic inflammatory disease of the immune system.


It’s also possible for a woman to experience hair loss as a complication of diabetes, according to the Mayo Clinic. Diabetes is often considered an autoimmune disease, much like lupus and lichen planus. It’s a disorder characterized by an inability of the body to control blood sugar levels. Blood sugar levels are linked to the production of insulin from the pancreas. For some people, their body doesn’t produce enough of insulin to move glucose out of the bloodstream while others are actually resistant to the hormone, which also impedes the movement of glucose from the blood.