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    Thinning hair in women

    On this page
    1. What causes thinning hair in women?
    2. Hair thinning treatment female
    3. Women’s hair regrowth
    4. How to stop thinning hair in women
    5. Conclusion

    Reviewed by our clinical team

    Hair loss and thinning can be a source of real stress and anxiety, particularly in women, and can trigger feelings of shame and serious self-image issues. 

    Thinning hair and hair loss in women can be due to a number of things, and take many different forms, from minor thinning on the crown of the head to total baldness. Hair loss can occur at any age

    Whatever the cause, it’s important to know that there may be treatments available for hair thinning, and there’s no need to tackle this all by yourself.

    Thinning hair in women

    What causes thinning hair in women?

    There are a number of conditions that can trigger, or are associated with hair thinning in women.

    Female pattern hair loss

    It's thought that around 40% of women aged 70 years and over experience female-pattern baldness in some form, but it can occur at any age. Female pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is thought to be inherited, just like male pattern baldness

    Female pattern hair loss usually manifests with a gradual thinning of the hair on the top of the head. It doesn’t generally lead to total hair loss but can cause widespread thinning.

    Alopecia areata

    Another type of hair loss, alopecia areata, is thought to be an immune disorder where the immune system inadvertently attacks the hair follicles. We don’t really know why this happens, but it’s thought to be due to both genetic and non-genetic (environmental) factors.

    Alopecia areata usually presents with loss of hair in oval patches, either on the scalp or across the body. Regrowth often reoccurs eventually, but alopecia areata can also trigger alopecia totalis, or total loss of hair on the scalp, and even alopecia universalis, where all the body hair including eyebrows, pubic and armpit hair, is lost.

    There are quite a few triggers for alopecia areata and there is no single cure available that works for everybody. In most cases the hair grows back after the trigger or cause (illness, medication, stress are some examples) has gone away. Treatments that are sometimes tried are immunotherapy or corticosteroids.

    Traction alopecia

    Traction alopecia is caused by repeated pulling or tugging on your hair. You might develop traction alopecia if you regularly wear your hair in braids, or tight buns and ponytails, particularly if you also use chemicals or heat on a regular basis.

    Traction alopecia can usually be reversed by being kinder to your hair and wearing it down or in looser styles. Unfortunately, hair loss from traction alopecia can be permanent if you don’t intervene quickly enough.

    Telogen effluvium

    Hair growth has two stages, the anagen phase, or ‘growing phase’, and the telogen phase, or ‘resting phase’. Hairs stay in the growing phase for two-four years, resting for two-four months before falling out to be replaced by new hair. Telogen effluvium is a condition where more hairs move into the resting phase, leading to the loss of around 300 hairs a day rather than the average 100.

    Telogen effluvium usually presents with thinning hair rather than patches, and there are a number of triggers ranging from physical injury to stress and even some medications. Treating the cause will usually stop telogen effluvium, though there’s no guarantee the hair will return.

    Stress-related hair loss

    Although stress by itself does not directly cause hair loss, it can contribute to other hair loss conditions such as telogen effluvium and alopecia areata, or trigger trichotillomania, a psychological condition that leads to obsessive hair pulling.

    In the case of stress-related hair loss, your GP may recommend a course of therapy or medication to reduce stress, which can stop ongoing hair loss and triggers regrowth.


    Although there haven’t been any studies directly linking menopause to hair loss, many women report hair loss thinning during menopause or perimenopause. Most of these women report hair falling out when showering or brushing.

    Any hair loss during menopause is likely due to changing hormone levels, particularly the drop in production of oestrogen and progesterone, which contribute to hair health.

    It’s important to know that there could be other reasons for hair loss, including more serious immune disorders and scarring. It’s important to speak to your doctor to identify the root cause.

    Poor diet

    Your diet can influence the health of your hair. Eating a healthy balanced diet full of the nutrients your hair needs is one way to care for your hair. A diet deficient in certain nutrients can lead to hair loss. As can crash diets. 

    Tight hairstyles/hats

    It’s thought that hats can cause hair loss, however there’s very little evidence to support this. Read our hats and hair loss guide for more information. On the other hand, tight hairstyles such as braids or ponytails can lead to hair loss. Find out more in our hairstyles for hair loss guide.  

    Using harsh hair products

    Bleaching, perming and extreme hold hair sprays and gels contain harsh chemicals that can damage hair. Opt for products that are gentle on your hair. Choose as well as relaxed hair styles and embrace your natural hair colour.  

    Thinking about hair loss treatment?

    Hair thinning treatment female

    Depending on the reason behind the hair loss, and how advanced it is, your GP may recommend one of a number of treatments. Unfortunately, hair loss treatment for women is less effective when thinning is left to progress for too long.

    Potential hair loss treatments for women (depending on the cause) include:


    Minoxidil can stimulate hair regrowth in both men and women. As it doesn’t need a prescription, you can buy it yourself from your local Lloyds Pharmacy or online, under the brand name Regaine.

    There are few studies available on the effectiveness of Minoxidil in women, but in men, one study showed that up to 60% of men saw greater hair coverage after 48 weeks of use.

    Men experiencing hair loss can also take a prescription-only treatment called Finasteride (Propecia). However this isn’t safe for women. 

    Hair loss vitamins

    Hair loss vitamins are nutritional supplements designed to improve the health of your hair. Hair loss vitamins include biotin, selenium, zinc, niacin, Vitamin C, and iron.

    It’s important to note that there’s no evidence that hair loss vitamins stop hair loss or encourage regrowth at all, and hair loss vitamins are not available on or endorsed by the NHS. However, if your hair loss is being triggered or made worse by a particular vitamin deficiency, then hair loss vitamins could help. You should speak to your doctor first to identify the cause.

    Hairstyles for hair loss

    In cases where hair loss is being caused or made worse by the way you wear your hair (i.e. tight buns or ponytails) then your doctor might recommend you try a different style to minimise the impact. You should avoid braids, weaves, and anything else that might be putting undue pressure on your hair follicles.

    Hair transplants

    If other treatments fail, then you might opt for a hair transplant. More common in men, these treatments are available to women. According to the NHS, a hair transplant in the UK can cost anywhere between £1,000 and £30,000, depending on the extent of the hair loss and the particular procedure you need.

    Hair transplants are considered cosmetic surgery and are not available on the NHS. You should discuss the problem with your doctor prior to seeking out a hair transplant to rule out other treatable conditions.

    Best shampoo for thinning hair women

    There are many shampoos which claim to treat thinning hair, including caffeine shampoo. It’s often unclear whether these shampoos work to promote hair growth. Which is why the NHS doesn’t list these as a hair loss treatment, although some women have had positive results.   

    Women’s hair regrowth

    The potential for regrowth will depend on a range of factors, including the root cause of your hair loss, your age, and how far hair loss has progressed. Unfortunately, there’s no magic cure for hair loss, but often the condition can be treated and hair loss minimised. It’s important to talk to your GP as soon as possible to maximise your chances of regrowth.

    How to stop thinning hair in women

    There are ways you can stop your hair thinning from getting any worse. Alongside medication or treatments recommended by your GP, you can:


    Hair loss can be incredibly stressful, particularly in women, and it can be difficult to get the right information leading to further frustration. As with any type of medical condition, you should seek the advice of a doctor for a proper diagnosis, as well as the right advice on treatment


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