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What is female-pattern hair loss?

Posted By Lisa Millington  
06/08/2019
18:00 PM

Female pattern hair loss/baldness is a term used to describe hair loss and thinning in women. The medical term for this condition is Androgenic Alopecia.

Both men and women may experience hair loss, however it is not as frequent in women as it is in men and the pattern of hair loss appears differently. Men will tend to develop a receding hairline and balding from the crown. Women with female pattern hair loss usually experience generalised hair thinning across their entire scalp which affects their volume of hair. In women, the first signs of female pattern baldness may be a widening part or a feeling that the hair does not feel as thick as usual. Although the scalp may be visible, the hairline usually will not recede. A receding hairline or a bald patch on the crown of the head is rare, although it can happen.

Female pattern hair loss increases with age, with less than 50 percent of women maintaining a full head of hair for their entire life. The progress of hair loss is usually slow but can come in bursts. It often most noticeable after menopause.

Causes of female pattern baldness:

Genetics play a role in the development of female pattern hair loss. The genes that cause female pattern hair loss are commonly inherited from one or both parents. It’s also possible that hormones contribute to the condition.

Diagnosis of female pattern baldness:

You may wish to speak to your doctor if you notice your hair is thinning. Your doctor will examine your hair and scalp, and will refer you to a dermatologist if required.

If you have acne, irregular periods or a lot of body hair, your doctor might want to test your hormone levels, to rule out polycystic ovary syndrome.

Other causes of hair loss in women include:

  • Autoimmune disease: Alopecia Areata is a rare autoimmune disorder that causes the immune system to attack the hair follicles, leading to hair loss.
  • Medication: Certain medications, such as those that are used to treat cancer, can cause hair loss as a side effect. Hair usually grows back once a person has stopped taking the medication.
  • Illness: Hair loss can develop after a significant illness, such as a severe infection, high fever, or surgery.
  • Traction Alopecia: This is hair loss that occurs when a person frequently wears hairstyles that pull the hair too tightly.
  • Tumours of the pituitary gland or ovary: which secrete androgen, may also lead to hair loss.

Once all other causes of female pattern hair loss are ruled out and it is determined you have genetic hair loss, you can begin to look at treatment options.

Treatment of female pattern baldness:

Products:

There are just two clinically proven drug treatments which can prevent further hair loss and promote regrowth. Finasteride (more commonly known as Propecia) and Minoxidil (most commonly known as Regaine). A combination of both products is usually recommended for best results. However once you cease treatment, you will lose the hair that was re-grown and eventually revert to your previous pattern of hair loss.

Non-surgical:

Hair weaves, hairpieces, or treatments such as Scalp Micropigmentation (SMP) can help to disguise the hair loss and thinning hair. Through state-of-the art technology, SMP creates the appearance of tiny hair follicles that help give the appearance of fuller /thicker hair. These options are usually the most cost-effective and safest approach to treat female baldness/hair loss.

Surgical:

Hair transplantation consists of removing tiny plugs of hair from areas where the hair is still growing and placing them in the areas that are balding. Complications include, scarring and infection. The procedure usually requires multiple sessions and can be costly. Suturing hair pieces to the scalp is not recommended. It can result in scars, infections, and abscess of the scalp.

There is not enough evidence to show that laser treatments, plasma injections, ‘hair tonics’ and nutritional supplements will stimulate hair growth.

For some women, hair loss can be distressing and can affect their self-esteem. Treatments can slow down the process but there's no cure. However, you shouldn’t have to accept your hair loss if it’s something that bothers you. There are options such as SMP available to you to camouflage thinning hair on your scalp.

Find Out More.