Why Do Women Lose their Hair: Understanding Women Pattern Baldness
Female hair loss is a serious and widespread issue rarely discussed worldwide. About 95 percent of female hair loss is androgenetic pattern baldness.
Many women who have female pattern baldness suffer from confidence and self-esteem issues due to the problem and the stigma attached to it. The National Institute of Health revealed in 2012 that almost 30 percent of women suffering from pattern baldness experience one or more symptoms of depression.
This article seeks to shed more light on the prevalence of women's pattern baldness, its causes, symptoms, and treatment options.
What is Female Pattern Baldness?
Female pattern baldness also called androgenetic alopecia, or hereditary hair loss is a condition that causes women to shed more hair than the average person. Females lose between 50 to 100 hairs daily, but with pattern baldness, the numbers are higher.
Female pattern baldness is self-diagnosable. Unlike male pattern baldness, where hair loss occurs at the front hairline and recedes to the back, female baldness mostly starts at the parting lines or anywhere on the scalp or temple. When a lady has alopecia, the follicles shrink, and hair regrowth slows. Doctors say female pattern baldness is in three types.
Type I starts with a tiny thinning area in one or more spots. This later progresses to Type II, which causes the thinning spot to widen further. Type III involves an overall thinning with see-through bald spots.
Causes of Female Hair Thinning
There's no sole cause for female pattern hair loss. Scientists believe it is a result of several linking factors, which include:
Genetics plays a role in all types of hair loss. Although, the role of genetics in male hair loss is clearer than in females.
Research shows that several genes are involved in hair loss in women. Especially those genes that code for the production of aromatase—an enzyme that converts testosterone to estradiol.
At certain phases in a woman's life cycle, she experiences one or more forms of hormone imbalance, causing androgen excess. A sudden change in thyroid hormone levels also increases the risk of hair loss.
Clinicians see female pattern hair loss as one of the first signs of menopause in adult ladies. Women also experience it during pregnancy and after childbirth.
The susceptibility of a lady to pattern hair loss increases as she ages. About 12% of women in their 20s experience pattern hair loss, while 50% develop the condition after menopause.
Medical conditions and medications
Diseases, like cancer, alopecia areata, cicatricial alopecia, traumatic alopecia, ringworm infection, and mental disorders like trichotillomania cause female pattern hair loss.
Drugs used to treat medical problems, like gout, depression, heart problems, arthritis, and high blood pressure sometimes cause female pattern hair loss. Starting or discontinuing birth control pills also results in alopecia.
Diet and Lifestyle
Research shows that when specific vitamins and nutrients are deficient, it causes female pattern hair loss. Iron, vitamins D, E, K, B3, and A deficiency are commonly implicated. Data also suggest that lifestyle habits like smoking, exercise, and lack of sleep contribute to hair loss.
Female Pattern Baldness Symptoms
Widening of the midline: This is accompanied by thinning in the front area of the scalp than the back or sides. It gives the hairline an irregular triangle shape similar to a Christmas tree pattern.
Balding of the crown: This balding makes the thinning midline appear larger. It preserves the front hairline.
Overall thinning: This pattern is similar to male pattern baldness as it affects the sides and front of the scalp. Females going through menopause mostly exhibit this symptom.
Itching or skin sores: This symptom is generally not seen from afar and mainly occurs when an infection causes baldness.
Managing Female Pattern Baldness
Female pattern baldness due to genetic factors is irreversible, but you can slow down its progression using these steps.
Use over-the-counter medication
The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves using Minoxidil to manage female pattern baldness.
Minoxidil, sold as Rogaine, is a topical treatment first made available as a remedy for high blood pressure. Some who used it observed that it caused their hair to regrow in areas where it had previously fallen out.
Studies have shown Minoxidil can promote hair growth when applied directly to the scalp. The trials led to the FDA's initial approval of 2% and 5% minoxidil to treat female pattern baldness.
For maximum results, you must use Minoxidil for 3 to 6 months. If you do not observe improvement after six months, ask your dermatologist to recommend other drugs like Ketoconazole, cimetidine, and spironolactone.
Use nutritional supplements
Ask your provider to recommend good macro and micro nutritional supplements. The supplements limit your hair loss and encourage new growth. For example, you may use iron supplements if you are a vegetarian, have a history of anemia, or experience excessive menstrual bleeding.
Try laser therapy and platelet-rich plasma injections
Laser treatment, also known as red light therapy, and Platelet-rich plasma shots can improve hair loss caused by genetic factors or chemotherapy. Both treatments stimulate hair growth in patchy spots. However, there's still limited information on their effectiveness on various hair types.
Practice healthy lifestyle habits
Healthy habits like eating a balanced diet, getting at least six hours of sleep, reducing stress, and regular exercise can promote healthy hair growth and improve overall health.
Consider a Hair transplant
A hair transplant is sometimes the last resort for people who do not respond well to medical treatment. It is a non-invasive surgical procedure where hair grafts are transplanted from healthy parts of the scalp to bald areas.
Hair transplants are costly in the United States, costing between 15,000 USD to 45,000 USD depending on the number of hair grafts transplanted. However, patients can now get cheaper procedures overseas in Greece, Mexico, the United Kingdom, and Turkey without compromising on permanent and excellent results.
What to Do If Female Pattern Baldness Symptoms Persist?
If you've tried inexpensive treatments without improvements, it's time to visit an experienced and skilled hair surgeon. Finding one yourself may be difficult, but you can contact Hair Transplant Pro to make it easier.
Hair Transplant Pro is a concierge service that links female pattern baldness patients to reputable hair clinics and surgeons outside the United States for cost-effective and excellent hair transplant surgery and post-op care.
They can handle all necessary logistics and flight issues and provide the best-discounted deals for accommodation during your stay overseas.