Losing your crowning glory can be particularly difficult for women. But there are ways to cope.
Losing your hair as a woman, especially if you're young or at a vulnerable time in your life, can badly affect your confidence.
Hair loss, known medically as alopecia, is fairly common. It's estimated, for instance, that around 40% of women aged 70 years or over experience female-pattern baldness – the most common type of hair loss, which is thought to be inherited.
Different types of hair loss
There are lots of different types of hair loss. It can take the form of "thinning" or involve a total loss of hair. It can be gradual or sudden; it can affect the old and the young.
Hair loss can be genetic, or as a result of extreme stress, a medical condition or treatment.
Hair loss is a well-known side effect of chemotherapy. It's also common for women to lose more hair than usual up to 3 months after they've given birth.
Hair loss treatments
It can help to address the physical aspects of hair loss. Try to find out everything you can about hair loss and the treatment options available to you.
A proven treatment for female-pattern baldness is a hair lotion containing minoxidil. After using it, many women see improvements, including a slowing or stopping altogether of balding, as well as thicker hair.
Always contact a GP or dermatologist for advice before starting or finishing any treatments or medicine for alopecia.
Find out about hair loss treatments that work.
Ways to cope with hair loss
It's also important to address the psychological impact of hair loss. If you've lost your hair, even temporarily, life will be easier if you can accept what's happened and learn to live with your altered appearance.
Here are some useful self-help tips.
Join a support group
There are groups around the country where you can meet and socialise with other people with alopecia.
It's not easy, but try to come to terms with your hair loss. One way to do this is to make a list of all your good qualities and focus your energy on celebrating these attributes.
Talk about it
Discuss your hair loss with your friends, family and loved ones, preferably early on. Let them know how you feel about it and what kind of support you need.
If hair loss is affecting your relationship with your partner, going to therapy or couples counselling may help.
You can look into disguising and covering up your hair loss with things like wigs, hair extensions, scarves and make-up. Persevere until you find a product and style that suits you. Equally, you may prefer not to cover up at all.
If you have hair loss that you find difficult to cover up (around 50% hair loss or more), or your hair loss is a result of cancer treatment, you may be eligible for a wig on the NHS.
Find out about NHS wigs.
Hair loss in women is often temporary. That said, regrowth is unpredictable and can take years. Remember that your new hair can be any texture and colour.
Avoid miracle cures
Do not be taken in by claims for wonder products. There are no cures for female hair loss.
Find out more about hair loss.
Page last reviewed: 4 February 2021
Next review due: 4 February 2024