Diffuse hair loss is the most common type of loss in women. It is sometimes hard to notice such loss because it’s spread out over the entire scalp. Early signs of this type of loss are hair styling challenges such as loss of volume, a see-through effect, or increased space in the part line. Diffuse loss is mostly hereditary. A woman can expect it if other women in the family have this condition—mothers, grandmothers, aunts, or sisters.
Female pattern alopecia is also genetic, but can occur on either side of the family as it does in male pattern baldness. The Ludwig Classification System is used to gauge the extent – three degrees of loss are found in this system—mild, moderate, and extensive.
Common underlying medical conditions that cause hair loss are thyroid conditions, anaemia, iron deficiency, weight loss resulting from severe dieting or eating disorders, and autoimmune diseases. However, these conditions are not unique to women.
Genetic balding in women has further been linked to two male sex hormones—testosterone and DHT. Women who are pregnant, postpartum, or menopausal are vulnerable to hair loss as well.
In some cases where women have female pattern alopecia (baldness) or temporary balding, their doctors may order blood tests if some of the following symptoms are present: irregular periods, cystic acne, hirsuitism (body hair that doesn’t run in the family), virilization (secondary male sex characteristics), infertility, or galactorrahea (breast secretions). In other cases where excessive male hormones are suspected, a physician may order the following tests: total and free testosterone (secondary traits), DHEA-sulphate (precursor to testosterone), and Prolacin (for breast secretions).
Many of these conditions can be hard to diagnose; therefore, it is necessary to consult a certified professional. Fortunately, there are solutions to female hair loss, just as with males.