What Is Female Pattern Baldness?
Many women deal with hair loss, and the reasons are often hormone related. There are hair loss treatments for women, but the options are few.
Female pattern baldness or hair thinning, also known as female pattern alopecia, is thought to affect about a third of all women, with some estimates going even higher. Female baldness usually involves hair loss over the entire scalp. The hair loss may be most visible on the top of the head, making the natural “part” of the hair appear wider. Unlike hair loss in men, female hair loss generally don’t go involve complete baldness. In fact, women usually maintain their hairline in the front and on the sides. Treatments for female pattern baldness and thinning hair depending on the cause of the problem.
Causes of Female Pattern Baldness
Normally, the average individual hair grows slowly and continuously for two to six years, then rests for a few months before it falls out. Usually a new hair grows from the same follicle shortly thereafter. But sometimes certain conditions prevent new growth.
Causes of female pattern baldness are not completely understood, but genetics may play a role, particularly if either parent had a similar condition. Hormone imbalances or sudden health changes are also factors in many instances of hair loss in women.
Hormonal changes include pregnancy and the birth of a baby, starting or stopping birth control pills, and menopause. Other causes of hair loss in women are:
- Certain medications, including some antidepressants, blood thinners, and chemotherapy treatments for cancer
- Infection or serious illness
- Thyroid problems
- Iron, vitamin, or other nutritional deficiencies
Hair loss may indicate the onset of a disease, including medical conditions as varied as diabetes and lupus. Your doctor may order a blood test to determine if your hair loss could be a symptom of a more serious medical problem.
Hair Loss Treatment for Women
There are situations in which no treatment is required — when the baldness or thinning hair will resolve naturally on its own. For example, post-pregnancy hair loss can occur several months after delivery, but regrowth will usually return hair to normal thickness within months.
Some instances of hair loss do call for a medical intervention, and treatment for the condition that’s causing the hair loss — for example, a thyroid problem — usually resolves the hair loss problem as well. If hair loss is a side effect of a certain medication, your doctor may be able to substitute other drugs.
Hair transplantation is another treatment option that may work for women experiencing hair loss. Small plugs of hair are removed from thicker hair areas, such as the back of the head, and surgically placed, follicle by follicle, into scalp areas where the hair if thinning. Hair transplants can be very successful if done by an experienced surgeon.
A word of caution: Women with hair loss should be wary of advertisements involving light therapy and scalp laser treatments to restore hair growth. Although they may not be harmful, their effectiveness hasn’t been proven.
Although there are few medical hair loss treatments for women, some women have had good results with cosmetic solutions. Hair coloring, permanents, weaves, and other styling options may help mask the effects of female pattern baldness.
Your doctor or dermatologist is your best ally in diagnosing the cause of your thinning hair and suggesting solutions that may work for you.