The distress noticeable hair loss causes in women is unimaginable. In this blog, you will learn about the different treatment options that may help.
Hair loss affects many women at some point in their lives. Estimates show as many as 33% of all women suffer the condition. Hair thinning or bald spots occur in even higher numbers among postmenopausal women. The impact is heavier in women, not to say hair loss affects fewer men. It is more socially acceptable for a man to lose their hair than a woman. The quality of a woman’s life, her emotional as well as physical well being, become casualty’s of alopecia.
The most common type of hair loss, which affects both men and women, is known as androgenetic alopecia or pattern hair loss. Main characteristics of pattern hair loss in women start with hair thinning at the part line with increasing diffuse hair loss spreading out from the crown (top of the head). A receding hairline is rare in women, and balding is uncommon. In men, androgenetic alopecia culminates in full baldness if untreated. It starts with hair loss above the temples with the receding hairline forming an ‘M’ shape with thinning hair at the top.
Many different causes lead to hair loss in women, such as medical conditions as well as emotional or physical stress. If you discover unusual hair loss, you should get in touch with your dermatologist or doctor so that they can find the cause, and prescribe treatment. If the reason is emotional stress, seeking a referral to a support group or therapist is another option to help get to the root of the problem. Although hair loss can be a frustrating experience, over the years, the number of therapies to reverse hair loss has increased to help women cope with the problem.
Three Patterns of Female Hair Loss
There are three clinical types of hair loss experts use to classify and describe female pattern hair loss:
- Type I – minimal, barely discernible hair loss with minor thinning which can be hidden easily with some hairstyles.
- Type II – hair loss concentrated around the mid-line part, which shows noticeable widening and decreased hair volume.
- Type III – the characteristics of this type of hair loss are extensive thinning at the top where you can see all the way through to the scalp.
What is androgenetic alopecia?
Nearly every woman will suffer some form of pattern hair loss at some point in their life. From just after puberty, you may start noticing hair loss, but the condition sets in after menopause. During menopause hair loss accelerates, although, for some women with a family history of hair loss, this may happen sooner.
Hormones called androgens are responsible for several bodily functions, including normal sexual development in males and regulation of hair growth in both sexes. The action of the hormone affects the anagen or growth phase of hair follicles. The result is that hair takes longer to start growing back after shedding during its normal growth cycle. Too much androgen also affects the hair follicle by causing it to shrink, producing a shorter hair shaft. As the cycle progresses, thicker, thinner, shorter, non-pigmented hairs replace healthier hair follicles.
Causes of androgen overproduction include genetics, so it’s commonly an inherit conditions passing through families. Also, an androgen-secreting tumour of the ovary, pituitary or adrenal gland can lead to excessive androgen levels.
Diagnosis of Pattern Hair Loss
Your medical history plays a vital role in the diagnosis of androgenetic alopecia. Your doctor or dermatologist will ask about your family history as well as inspect your scalp. The pattern of hair loss and scalp inflammation may well indicate pattern hair loss. You may also need blood tests to check for other possible causes of hair loss such as iron deficiency. Signs of excess androgen include irregular periods, acne, and unwanted hair growth which may require a hormonal evaluation to ascertain.
Hair loss treatment for women
The most common treatment for hair loss in women is medication. One of the most popular treatment for pattern hair loss is:
Minoxidil (Rogaine and other generic versions available) is an over the counter medication for treating hair loss in women. It’s available in a 2% topical solution and a more powerful 5% solution for women in need. The drug was initially developed for high blood pressure, but users discovered new hair growth in places where they had lost it.
Most women who use minoxidil start to see results in about two months, with full results showing around four months. Minoxidil is not a permanent cure, and if it works for you, you will need to keep using it to maintain the results. Unfortunately, this medication will not restore full coverage and density. Also, it will not work for all women, and so you will have to try it and see if it works for you.
What are the side effects of Minoxidil
Overall, minoxidil is a safe drug and has FDA approval. Some of the familiar side effects users mentions include scalp irritation, possibly due to the alcohol that helps the medication dry quickly. Often, the colour and texture of the new hair differ from the other hair. Lastly, a common side effect is excessive growth in unwanted areas such as the forehead and cheeks, a condition known as hypertrichosis.
Testosterone and other “male” hormones are androgens and can accelerate hair loss in women. If you don’t respond to minoxidil then using an anti-androgen medication such as spironolactone may help treat androgenic alopecia. Medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) result in excess androgens which lead to hair loss. If you have been diagnosed with PCOS, then this may well be the cause of your hair loss.
For some women, hair loss is simply due to iron deficiency. If you have a history of anaemia or perhaps follow a vegetarian diet, then your doctor may recommend a blood test to check iron levels. If the blood test shows an iron deficiency, then your doctor may recommend iron supplements which may stop hair loss. Watch out for iron supplement side effects such as upset stomach and constipation, which can happen if your iron levels are normal.
When medication does not work for hair loss in women, hair transplant surgery becomes an option. Modern techniques, such as follicular unit extraction offer better outcomes in comparison to outdated methods. Other treatment options include laser therapy, mesotherapy for hair regrowth and platelet-rich plasma treatment.
Vinci Hair Clinic boasts several experts who have experience with each of the hair loss treatment options mentioned in this article. From the initial consultation to the start of your treatment and throughout, you are in the best hands. If you would like to find out more about hair loss in women and the treatment available to you, contact us today.