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What Causes Female Hair Loss On the Back of the Head?

As a woman, losing your hair can be a devastating blow to your self-confidence. And while hair loss is often associated with males, women make up approximately 40% of hair loss sufferers, according to the American Hair Loss Association.

Thinning or hair loss on the back of your head affects the appearance of thickness and volume of your hair, which can be particularly stressful. To help you understand what causes female hair loss on the back of the head, we consulted with an expert for insight into the problem and potential solutions. Plus, find out what you can do to encourage thicker looking hair.

Causes of Hair Loss On the Back of the Head

Hair loss could be caused by an underlying medical condition, hormonal changes, environmental stressors, lifestyle changes or even hairstyling tools and techniques.

The reasons for experiencing hair loss on the back of your head are complex and could be caused by a combination of factors. But here's the good news: Often, hair loss on the back of head is considered temporary hair loss and can be treated.

Traction Alopecia

Traction alopecia occurs from the repeated pulling of hair, which can cause inflammation and hair loss. And while TA can be reversed if you act quickly enough, in extreme cases, the inflammation destroys hair follicles, leading to permanent hair loss.

Hairstyles that can cause TA include extensions, weaves, tight ponytails, tight braids and tight buns. These hairstyles are rough on hair follicles because they restrict blood circulation over time. This decreases blood flow to the hair follicles, leading to stressed strands, which are more prone to breakage and hair shedding.

It takes a consistent amount of intense pulling on the hair follicles to create the condition, which means that your everyday ponytail likely isn't going to result in traction alopecia. However, if you wear tight hairstyles on a regular basis, like a ballerina who wears a tight, high bun every day to train, your particular form of hair loss may be caused by TA.

TA is much more common among women than men, and the prevalence of TA is highest among women — including children — of African descent due to both the curved qualities of African hair follicles and cultural hairdressing practices. One study found that TA is a common condition among Afro-Caribbean communities who regularly wear tightly braided hairstyles.

If you're experiencing hair loss on the back of your head as a result of TA, it's important to give your strands time to rest and recover to avoid further hair loss. In the meantime, wear protective hairstyles and treat your hair to some TLC.

See: 33 Protective Hairstyles for Natural Hair

Androgenetic Alopecia 

Androgenetic alopecia, also referred to as androgenic alopecia, is another type of hair loss that may be at the root cause of your thinning hair. In women, AGA is also referred to as “female pattern baldness” and “female pattern hair loss," whereas in men, it's “male pattern baldness” or “male pattern hair loss.”

"Androgenic alopecia is a common form of hair loss in the back of the head of both women and men," said hairstylist Darrius Peace. "This form of hair loss is usually the result of hormonal changes within the body."

AGA is believed to be caused by a sudden increased sensitivity to androgens, a group of hormones best known for their role in developing characteristically male traits and reproductive activity, but are equally important hormones for both men and women. Androgens play an important role in the regulation of hair growth, although just how is not completely clear.

Hair loss in women with androgenetic alopecia comes on slowly and is characterized by a gradual overall thinning that could eventually lead to a receding hairline.

Hormonal Disorders

Hormonal imbalances as a result of polycystic ovary syndrome, menopause, thyroid disorders, birth control and pregnancy can significantly affect hair loss. If you notice your hair thinning in the back or bald spots, it may be a physical symptom of an internal irregularity. Make an appointment with your doctor for a diagnosis.

Hair loss can be upsetting, particularly when you’re also dealing with other side effects from fluctuating hormones. Whether your hair will grow back depends on what's causing your hair loss. For example, if the hormones in birth control pills are what's causing your thinning strands, consult with your doctor for alternatives that will allow your hair to return to normal. If stress is causing you to lose hair, your hair will grow back once the stress has passed. But other changes, such as irreversible damage to your hair follicles, can cause permanent hair loss.

Read: 5 Ways Hormones Can Affect Your Hair

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata (AA) is a condition that causes your hair to fall out in round coin-sized patches. You might notice that the patches get larger and grow together into a bald spot. Or, your hair might grow back in one spot but fall out in another. While this patchy hair loss often happens on the scalp, it can also happen elsewhere on the face and body.

There is currently no cure for AA, although there are some effective treatments that can be used to help encourage hair regrowth.

Also: What You Should Know About Scarring Alopecia

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium (TE) tends to be more common in women and is characterized by a noticeable increase in shedding. This general thinning of the hair is often concentrated at the top of the head but can also present as balding in the back of the head. More often than not, this type of hair loss is triggered by stress on your body, which can include work or health-related stress, major life changes or extreme dieting. Hair loss caused by TE typically resolves on its own once you make the necessary lifestyle changes to reduce the stress in your life and prioritize your overall wellness.

Read: What Is Telogen Effluvium? One Type of Hair Loss Explained

What You Can Do to Encourage Thicker Looking Hair

Addressing hair issues at the back of the head starts with determining the cause. From there, there are several things you can do to nourish your hair follicles, prevent further damage and encourage healthy looking hair.

Eat a Healthy Diet

Issues with any sort of hair damage or hair loss can often be indicative of a nutritional deficiency or other health issues. To keep your hair and body nourished, make sure you're eating a well-balanced diet rich in vitamins, essential fatty acids, Omega-3s and lean protein. Consider incorporating a biotin supplement into your daily vitamin mix. Making improvements to your diet and overall health and wellness can heal your body from the inside out, leading to increased hair health.

Manage Stress

Stress triggers the release of hormones that can seriously affect the length and thickness of your hair. Reducing your stress levels and finding healthy ways to relieve that stress through things like meditation, exercise or spending time outdoors can prevent it from impacting your overall health. Unwind from the day with a good book before bed, and make sure to get plenty of sleep, so your mind and body can recover before morning.

Care for Your Scalp and Hair

Healthy hair begins with a healthy scalp. The vegan, plant-based ingredients in VEGAMOUR's GRO+ Advanced Collection including hemp.

After applying the serum to your scalp,  use your fingertips or a scalp massager for 30 seconds to massage the serum straight to your scalp. The best part is that it dries down in just a few minutes and doesn't need to be washed out, so you can use it on wet or dry hair and it isn't oily.

See a Doctor

"The best way to slow down hair loss and/or prevent it is to always get to the root of the issue," said celebrity hairstylist Shantise Michelle. "Go to the doctor (preferably a specialist) so that [he/she] can let you know what's wrong."

Don't be afraid to seek professional help for hair-related issues. Make an appointment with your doctor who can evaluate your symptoms and order bloodwork, if needed, to explore the various possible causes. Depending on the results, your doctor might refer you to a dermatologist, trichologist or another specialist who is better equipped to treat your specific issue.

Take a Holistic Approach to Hair Wellness

For optimal hair health, take a holistic approach to your whole body health by reducing stress, incorporating a balanced nutritional diet, staying hydrated and using targeted hair wellness products to encourage thicker looking hair. And if you do experience troubling or noticeable hair loss, consult with a medical professional to uncover the cause. With this 360-degree approach, you'll be well on your way to happier, healthier strands and improved overall wellness!


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Disclaimer: Information in this article is intended for general informational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended to constitute medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek professional medical advice from your physician.