Female Pattern Baldness
Female pattern baldness, otherwise referred to as Androgenic Alopecia, is a hair loss condition developed by females. The hair loss most commonly begins with scalp hairs that become shorter and finer over time, typically as individuals age. In most cases, female pattern baldness is initially developed at the parting line, as well as on the very top-central part of the head.
If you think that you might be experiencing female pattern baldness yourself, it is well worth taking the time to read our comprehensive guide. Within it, we will discuss everything you need to know. This will include an overview of what female pattern baldness is, why you might be experiencing it and what potential treatments are available.
Androgenetic Alopecia, most commonly referred to as female pattern baldness, is a form of hair loss developed by females. It is different to male pattern baldness insofar that females usually begin to experience the hair loss at the hair parting. On the contrary, male pattern baldness usually begins with a receding hairline, subsequently result in a ‘M’ shape.
Female pattern baldness is more common than people think, with an estimated two-thirds of females experiencing it after menopause. Moreover, it is also estimated that less than 50% of females will still have a full head of hair by the age of 65.
Whilst there is no hard and fast rule as to the specific underlying reasons why you might go through female pattern baldness, there are some likely common factors. In many cases, female pattern baldness is hereditary, meaning that if there is a strong history of it in your family, then you may go through it too.
Furthermore, it is also widely believed that female pattern baldness is caused by hormones and as such, is also common after females go through menopause. If you start to notice that you are beginning to lose more hair than usual, then it is well worth speaking with a dermatologist, who will be able to ascertain whether it is in fact female pattern baldness. Ultimately, the sooner you are able to understand what the specific condition is, the sooner you will be able to prevent the hair loss.
So now that you have a better understanding of what female pattern baldness actually is, we are now going to discuss what the condition looks like.
Symptoms of female pattern baldness
First and foremost, it is important to have a brief understanding as to why you might be experiencing hair loss. In terms of female pattern baldness, the phase that dictates the hair’s growth begins to slow down. Moreover, the amount of time it takes for the hair to grow begins to increase. As a result, the underlying hair follicles shrink, which results in newly grown hair growing back not only finer, but thinner too.
The consequences of this for the appearance of your hair is that hair breaks much easier. In most cases, females can lose anywhere between 50-100 hairs each and every day. However, if you are experiencing female pattern baldness, then this amount can increase by a significant level.
In terms of what to look out for, you will notice a lot of thinning throughout the hair. Furthermore, this may initially begin at the parting of the hair. If these symptoms sound familiar, then it may be possible that you have female pattern baldness.
Under normal circumstances, hair specialists put female pattern baldness in to three main categories.
- Type I: Type I sees the female initially lose hair at the part. The amounts lost are originally small in quantity.
- Type II: If experiencing Type II female pattern baldness, then this may see a widening of the part, followed by increased thinning around it.
- Type III: Type III female pattern baldness may result in the female thinning throughout. If this is the case, then there may be a see-through area, located at the top of your scalp.
Once again, whilst the above information is highly suitable for guideline purposes, it is important that you speak with a hair specialist in order to receive a full diagnosis.
Diagnosing female pattern baldness
When it comes to diagnosing female pattern baldness, you will need to visit a qualified hair loss specialist. Firstly, it is important to note that unlike male pattern baldness, which in 90% of instances is a case of genetics, there are a range of reasons why female hair loss can occur.
The dermatologist will want to run a range of tests to ascertain the exact condition. This will include testing your hormones levels, serum iron, thyroid levels and a complete blood test. The specialist will also potentially engage is a hair pull exercise.
This is where they pull a very small amount of hair from you, typically about 100 strands, and ascertain whether there is excessive loss. In most cases, the normal amount of hairs that come out during such an n exercise is between 1 and 3. As such, if more than 3 hairs are pulled out, then it is likely that there is an underlying hair loss problem.
Once all of the necessary tests have been performed and analysed, the specialist will be able to have a discussion with you. They will be able to give you a full break down of the underlying issue, as well as a range of options available to you to help treat the condition.
If you decide to undergo one of the treatments that the hair loss specialist suggests, then you will then need to undergo a further consultation. This will require the specialist to gain a better understanding of your medical history. They will want to discuss any previous or current medical conditions, as well as any medications you are currently on.
Furthermore, it is also an opportunity for you to ask questions about your goals and expectations. The specialist will be able to advise what you are likely to experience after the treatment.
So now that we’ve covered the importance of having your hair loss symptoms diagnosed by a hair loss specialist, we are now going to discuss some of the most common treatments currently available.
Available treatment to combat female pattern baldness
First and foremost, it is important to note that if you feel you are starting to develop female pattern baldness, then it is crucial that you get this diagnosed as early as possible. This will ensure that you are able to minimize the hair loss at the earliest stage possible. The following medications are common treatments used by hair loss specialists to treat female pattern baldness. Whilst some patients undergo just one medication, others may take a combination of two or more.
Minoxidil, otherwise known as Rogaine, is a drug commonly used to treat the effects of female pattern baldness. U.S. based agency the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) have approved the drug, and it is usually available in formulas of either 2% or 5%. It is important to note that whilst Minoxidil can give you the appearance of overall thicker hair, as well as accelerating the rate at which hair grows back, it cannot restore your hair in its entirety.
In other words, it cannot restore all of the hair you have previously lost. In order to undertake the Minoxidil treatment plan, you will be required to apply the formula to your scalp every day. When using Minoxidil, some patients report an increase in the rate of hair loss. This can occur during the first 2-8 weeks of treatment. This is nothing to be alarmed about, as it is only a temporary process whilst your new hair begins to grow.
It is important that you understand that Minoxidil is a long-term treatment, meaning that should you stop taking it, your hair may return to its previous appearance. Although there is no hard and fast rule as to how long it takes for Minoxidil to show results, most patients report seeing a noticeable change within 6-12 months.
As with most treatments, there are also a range of side effects that you need to be made aware of. Although these will be discussed in greater detail by your hair loss specialist during your consultation, common side effects includes dryness, itching and redness. Moreover, some patients have reported seeing hair grown on other undesirable areas, such as the cheeks.
Finasteride and Dutasteride
Finasteride, otherwise known as Propecia, and Dutasteride, known as Advart, are commonly used to treat hair loss. However, it is important to note that Finasteride and Dutasteride have been approved by the FDA to treat male pattern baldness, but not female pattern baldness. Nevertheless, some doctors do still recommend Finasteride and Dutasteride for female patients. Furthermore, some studies argue that the treatment assists with the regrowth of hair by those that have developed female pattern baldness.
There are a number of side effects that you also need to be made aware of, which include hot flushes, headaches and a reduced sex drive. Doctors also advice that women do not take this particular treatment whilst they are pregnant, as it can increase the risks of birth defects.
A further potential treatment that can assist with female pattern baldness is Spironolactone. The treatment removes surplus fluid from the patient’s body and as such, blocks the production of androgen. In doing so, it can help with the regrowth of hair in females. Much like in the case of Finasteride and Dutasteride, females should not take this treatment if they are pregnant, as it can cause birth defects. Other side effects includes fatigue, tender breasts, spotting between periods and irregular menstruation.
Platelet-Rich Plasma, or PRP, is a cosmetic procedure that aims to treat hair loss. In a nutshell, our blood contains three important components, which are red cells, white cells and platelets. The platelets contain a protein that is able to stimulate hair growth. In order to extract the PRP from our blood, the process is as follows.
The specialist will draw blood from the patient, before inserting the blood in to a machine known as a Centrifuge. The Centrifuge performs a rapid spinning motion to separate the PRP from the other components found in the blood. Once this has been achieved, the PRP is then re-injected in to the patient’s scalp.
It is hoped that PRP treatment will result in improved hair thickness and hair density.
In terms of the associated risks, there are of course some factors that you need to be made aware of. PRP treatment for female pattern baldness can result in bruising, redness, bleeding and temporary infection. Other potential risks also exist, which will be explained to you by a hair specialist, should you consider the treatment.
Ultimately, PRP is a very simple process. There is virtually no pain developed by the patient, not least because a mild numbing cream is applied. The only discomfort that might be felt during the procedure is at the point of drawing blood, or alternatively, the re-injection of the RPR.
Frequently Asked Questions
When is female pattern baldness most common?
Female pattern baldness is similar to male pattern baldness in this respect, insofar that females will not usually begin to experience it until they are at least in their 40s. However, it is also more than possible that females can develop female pattern baldness at a much younger age.
As is the case with males, there is a general consensus that hormones known as androgens can have a direct effect on whether or not the female will develop it. Moreover, various commentators also argue that the chances of developing female pattern baldness can increase if the individual is a heavy smoker.
Is female pattern baldness reversible?
It is important to remember that whilst many useful treatments do exist, it must be noted that female pattern baldness is not reversible. Undergoing the most suitable treatment for your individual circumstances can assist with the regrowth of the hair and stop the hair loss itself. It can take up to 12 months before patients see any notable improvements, so you must continue to take the treatment for as long as the specialist recommends.
Otherwise, your hair may return to the state it was in prior to undergoing treatment. Nevertheless, this is why we stress the importance of getting your hair loss developments diagnosed at the earlier possible time, as female pattern baldness cannot be reversed.
Can I prevent female pattern baldness?
Unfortunately, you are unable to prevent female pattern baldness. However, there are a number of factors that you might want to consider. By following a few simple tips, you can protect your hair from breakage.
- Diet: Eating a healthy diet can help protect your hair from breakage. Certain foods, such as green vegetables, beans and cereals, are an excellent option.
- Cosmetic hair products: Certain treatments for your hair, such as hair straighteners, bleaches and hair colorings, can damage your hair in the long-run. Try to avoid such practices.
- Medications: It is also a good idea to consult with your doctor regarding any medications that you are currently on. Some medications have a tendency to promote hair loss. If this is the case, your doctor may be able to swap the medication for something else.
- Smoking: It is widely believed that smoking can cause damage to the hair follicles and as such, further accelerate hair loss. Try to limit your smoking or even better, give up completely.
- Sun exposure: Finally, you should also make an attempt to limit the amount of exposure your hair gets to the sun. Too much sun can damage your hair.