Although hair loss is often more associated with men than women, women too can have problems with thinning, balding or complete hair loss on the scalp. One common reason this can occur is due to exposure to certain chemicals. Some of these chemicals, such as those in hair dyes, women choose to expose themselves to, while others, such as hormones, women have less control over.
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Dihydrotestosterone or DHT is one chemical that can influence hair loss in women. DHT is a derived from the primarily male hormone testosterone and blocks hair growth by binding to receptors on the follicles of your scalp, shrinking the hair follicle, making it hard for the follicle to continue growing new hair strands. Although DHT is more of a problem for men, it can also cause hair loss to a lesser extent in women.
Hair Dye Chemicals
Hair dyes containing the chemicals peroxide or ammonia can also cause problems with hair loss on women. When used in excess over time, these chemicals weaken and damage your hair, and may also cause scalp burns, itching, irritation and scalp redness, states the Food and Drug Administration. Instead, opt for peroxide- and ammonia-free options, such as semipermanent dyes or products made from henna.
The chemicals in hair relaxers can also cause problems with hair loss in women. The primary chemical of concern in these products is sodium hydroxide, better known as lye. Hair relaxers are designed to penetrate the cortical layer of your hair shaft so that it can change the naturally curly structure of the hair. Unfortunately, it also weakens the hair and can cause scalp burns and hair loss, states the Food and Drug Administration.
Certain prescription medications and disease treatments can also result in female hair loss. Some of the most widely known chemicals believed to do this are cancer fighting medications, such as those used for chemotherapy. Other prescriptions that can contribute to hair loss include certain medications for gout, depression, high blood pressure, arthritis and heart problems.