Female pattern baldness is about hair loss in women. It is also known as androgenetic alopecia. Female pattern baldness is like male pattern baldness. Nonetheless, the pattern of hair loss in women is different from that of man.
As women age, hair loss happens and it has considered normal. Menopause can cause hair loss for up to two-thirds of women. By the time women are 65, less than half may still have full head of hair.
Genetic reason can be responsible for female pattern baldness. As menopause is linked with this, hormones can also be possible reason. You can see dermatologist or a doctor when you find that you are losing hair. A doctor or a dermatologist can help determine whether it is female pattern baldness or any other type of loss. The timelier or sooner you get treatment, the faster and the more likely you will be able to prevent the loss. You may even be able to re-grow hair.
Female pattern baldness slows down hair growth and it takes longer than usual for new hair to begin growing. It causes hair follicles to shrink, making the hair thinner and finer. As a result, hair can easily break. Losing 50 to 100 hairs everyday is considered normal for women. However, women with female pattern baldness can lose many more.
Men begin losing hair in the front of the head, which keeps spreading until they become bald. Unlike men, women begin losing hair at their part line. In women, hair loss happens all over their head. Usually, women do not go completely bald as men do. However, lot of thinning can happen throughout hair.
According to doctors, female pattern baldness is of three types. One of the types involves small amount of thinning that begins around your part. Second type is about spreading of the part and enhanced thinning around it. Third type is a stage when there is a see-through area at the top of your scalp.
In case of symptoms, such as an increase in unwanted hair, severe acne or irregular period, it is a good idea to consult a doctor. You may be dealing with a different type of hair loss.
Causes of Female Pattern Baldness
Different genes are linked with female pattern baldness. Children can inherit these genes from their parents and have the problem. If your parents or close relatives have experienced hair loss, you are likely to have female pattern baldness.
Usually, a hormone-secreting tumor or an underlying endocrine condition causes female pattern baldness.
Smoking may enhance your risks of developing female pattern baldness. There is a male sex hormone, namely androgen. High amount of this hormone causes hair loss in men. It may also be a cause of female pattern baldness. Age can also be a reason behind female pattern baldness. Women are more prone to the problem after their midlife, unlike women before midlife.
When you experience thinning of hair on your scalp, you can see a dermatologist or doctor. Doctor can examine your scalp to check the pattern of your hair loss. Testing is usually not necessary to diagnose female pattern baldness. In case of confusion regarding the type of your hair loss, doctors may recommend blood test to have your levels of androgens, thyroid, iron and other substances checked.
Treatment for Female Pattern Baldness
Changing hair loss style is a good way to camouflage your female pattern baldness. Eventually, it gets harder to hide as thinning area widens at the top of your scalp. Early diagnosis and treatment can possibly minimize future hair loss. Treatment typically consists of medications that are approved to treat hair loss.
The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Minoxidil (Roagaine) to treat female pattern baldness. It may be the only drug approved by FDA and is available in 5% and 2% formula. Treatment involves applying minoxidil to scalp every day. It can help grow back good amount of hair but it cannot fully restore all the hair that you have lost. The medication may not yield any result in 6 or 12 months. As it takes time for the medication to take its effect, it is important to keep using it. Otherwise, the medication will yield no result. And in such case, your hair will return or remain to its previous appearance. The medication may have some side effects such as itching, dryness, redness etc. There may also be hair growth on unwanted areas such as your cheeks.
Finasteride and Dutasteride
The FDA approved Finasteride and dutasteride to treat hair loss only in men. Even though these medications are not approved for women, sometimes doctors may recommend them for female pattern baldness. Some research found out that these medications could be useful in treating female pattern baldness. Side effects of these medications include hot flashes, headaches, decreased sex drive etc. Women should not be using these drugs and be pregnant at the same time, as they can enhance the risks of birth defects.
Spironolactone or Aldactone is a diuretic. It eliminates extra fluid from the body. It can also hamper androgen production and help re-grow hair in women. Side effects of the drug include fatigue, irregular menstruation, spotting between periods, electrolyte imbalances etc. Women should not use this drug during pregnancy as it may cause birth effects.
Omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants are linked to thicker hair, as found out in a study. It is a good idea to consult a doctor to see if any supplement can be useful.
FDA-approved helmets and laser combs are also in use to treat hair loss. How effective the helmet and the laser comb are, is still subject to more research.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy is also in use for treatment. This therapy is also subject to ongoing studies.
Hair transplant is another solution that lasts long.
It may not be possible to prevent female pattern baldness. However, it is possible to protect hair from loss and breakage. Eating healthy diet can be useful. Consuming iron-rich foods such as beans, fortified cereals and dark green leafy vegetables may be useful. It is useful to avoid treatments that can facilitate hair loss. Consulting a doctor and switching to drugs that do not cause hair loss, can help. Smoking damages hair follicles and can accelerate hair loss. It is useful to quit smoking. Wearing a hat while going outside is useful, as prolonged exposure to sunlight can damage your hair.