Puberty Hair Loss in Teenage Girls
What is Puberty hair loss?
Puberty is the first time in a young girl’s life that she experiences major hormonal changes. As hormones change, physical symptoms such as acne, menstruation, and changes to her shape occur. It can be a difficult time for many adolescent girls, and to make matters worse, some will experience hair loss during puberty. Facing hair loss as a teenager may or may not signify an underlying medical issue. Regardless of the long-term effects, losing your hair during this developmental stage of your life can result in anxiety, stress, and low self-confidence. Fortunately, most cases of female hair loss during puberty can improve and heal with lifestyle changes.
WHAT CAUSES HAIR LOSS IN TEENAGE GIRLS?
To treat and prevent hair loss during puberty, it helps to understand what triggers cause hair loss and how the body reacts to them. Most girls experience puberty between the ages of 8 and 13. Around 14-years-old, symptoms subside and puberty concludes. During this delicate stage, your body may experience uncomfortable symptoms, but it’s important to remember that they are temporary. It’s natural for your body to change, hair to grow in new places, and menstruation to begin. One thing most young girls don’t expect is to experience is hair loss.
For many adolescent females, hair may be bountiful and full one day and seemingly fall out overnight. While it might feel completely random and all of a sudden, hair loss is the body’s biological response to a massive influx of the male testosterone hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is prevalent in both males and females. When DHT levels skyrocket in pubescent girls, the natural hair growth cycle becomes disrupted and sends a large portion of hair into the shedding phase.
The American Hair Loss Association estimates that 1 in 1,000 adolescents and youths suffer from hair loss caused by Alopecia Areata, a genetic hair loss condition. However, genetics only play a minor role in teenage hair loss, as there are several lifestyle and health triggers that can disrupt the hair growth cycle.
Hair Loss Triggers During Puberty
Diet or vitamin deficiency can induce adolescent hair loss. During this phase of growth and adjustment, your body changes and depends heavily on vital nutrients like iron, b-vitamins, calcium, protein and omega fatty acids to feed hair follicles. Over time, deficiency can lead to irreversible hair loss, which is why it’s crucial to consult with your doctor and have blood work done to check nutrition levels.
Medications like birth control can adjust hormone levels and cause them to function improperly, although it’s typically only temporary and your body needs time to adjust to the new medication.
Stress commonly accompanies puberty; as your body experiences major changes, it can feel overwhelming and difficult to accept. Emotional stress triggers your body to release excessive cortisol, which can damage the hair follicles.
Mechanical / Traction hair loss occurs as a result of over-styling hair with heating tools like blow-dryers, straighteners, and hot irons. Chemical treatments and coloring can also diminish hair health and cause excessive shedding. Lastly, wearing tight hairstyles adds pressure by tugging and pulling at the hair follicles. Ponytails, braids and tight buns can pull strands out and create bald spots.
Genetics (Female Pattern Hair Loss) can start as early as 12-years-old, but it’s uncommon. During this fragile period, it feels unfair to see symptoms of genetic hair loss so early. Female Pattern Hair Loss results from shrinking hair follicles which miniaturize and cause hair strands to fall out.
Trichotillomania is a condition classified as an overwhelming impulse to pull hair out, and most commonly affects adolescent girls approaching puberty. It’s important to catch this condition early as prolonged behavior can lead to damaged hair follicles and irreversible hair loss.
Health issues such as autoimmune disorders can cause hair loss in teenage girls as an autoimmune response. The body mistakes healthy cells in the hair follicles for foreign invaders and attacks them, which disrupts the hair growth cycle.
HOW TO TREAT PUBERTY HAIR LOSS
Dealing with puberty hair loss at a young age can be a traumatizing event for young females who are trying to achieve a semblance of normality as their body changes. Fortunately, most cases of female hair loss during puberty are temporary and preventative.
Here are steps you can take to minimize teenage hair loss, gain self-confidence and get back to enjoying this vibrant and transitional phase of life:
- Let someone close to you, like a parent, youth leader, coach know you are concerned about your hair. They can help you seek consultation.
- Consult with your doctor about your options and to assess whether the hair loss issue is medical, genetic, nutritional or lifestyle-related.
- Get hormone levels checked to see if there are imbalances.
- Minimize stress levels by engaging in joyful activities such as sports, swimming, hiking, meditation, yoga or long walks.
- Feed your hair follicles nutrients they love, which means eating a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in fruits, veggies, proteins, and healthy omega fats.
- Talk to your doctor about taking a hair growth supplement or vitamin that promotes growth.
- Ditch hair heating tools like blow-dryers, curling irons, and flat irons. Instead, let hair air dry and style with lightweight products.
- Avoid tight hairstyles like braids, ponytails, and buns, which tug at the hair follicles and cause excessive shedding. Instead, wear loose styles or tie hair back with a soft scarf or scrunchie.