Female patterned hair loss
§ Female patterned hair loss (FPHL) is a distinct pattern of hair thinning. Approximately 40% of women show signs of FPHL by the age of 50.
§ The medical name is androgenetic alopecia.
§ There is often widespread thinning throughout the scalp, particularly the crown. The frontal hairline is often maintained. Hair follicles also reduced in diameter (known as minaturisation), before they are lost.
§ Historically minoxidil and hormonal therapies (eg. spironolactone) have been the mainstay of treating FPHL However, there is evolving evidence for the use of low level light therapy (LLLT), microneedling, platelet rich plasma (PRP) and newer stem cell therapies. In some cases hair follicle transplantation might also be appropriate.
A Genetic Link
§ The cause of FPHL is a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. FPHL is also associated with conditions in which androgens are elevated, such as in polycystic ovarian syndrome.
Other causes of hair loss
Some types of medication may cause temporary hair loss as a side effect.
Often a genetic predisposition, but it may also develop due to an elevated production of the hormone androgen. Androgen is a hormone that plays a key role in hair loss.
Tumors of the pituitary gland or ovary secrete androgen which also lead to hair loss.
Alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease, is a rare autoimmune disorder causing the immune system to attack the hair follicles leading to hair loss.
Certain medications, such as those that are used to treat cancer, can cause hair loss as a side effect. Hair regrows once a person stops taking the medication.
Hair loss can develop after a significant illness, such as a severe infection, high fever, or surgery.
Traction alopecia is hair loss that occurs when a person frequently wears hairstyles that pull the hair too tightly.
There are a variety of treatment options depending on type of hair loss and it’s severity. One of our favourite treatment options is the little explored Low-Level-Laser Treatment (LLLT).
In most cases, the treatment is a long term management of the condition preventing further hair loss and offering regrowth in some cases.
Minoxidil is a topical medication that is used to treat hair loss in both men and women. The treatment is applied to the scalp every day to stimulate hair growth whilst preventing further hair from thinning.
Minoxidil takes up to 6 months to produce visible results and does not necessarily work for everyone.
One of the most common oral medications used to treat female pattern baldness is spironolactone. Spironolactone is a diuretic. Diuretics remove excess water from the body.
The medication also blocks the production of androgen, which prevents hair loss and helps hair regrow. The medication is contraindicated for pregnant women or those planning pregnancy. .
A hair transplant involves moving hair to an area of the scalp where it is missing. Various techniques may be used to perform hair transplantation. During a hair transplant, a technician removes hair from one area with healthy hair growth and transplants it to another area where the hair is missing. The procedure is simple and is performed under local anesthesia. .
One of the more promising areas for development is low level laser light therapy (LLLT) for hair loss. The devices work by emitting a specific wave length of light to stimulate hair regrowth.
There is now a mounting body of information that LLLT stimulates hair thickening and regrowth. However, this treatment may not be for everyone.
Since female pattern baldness may be genetic, it is not preventable per se. However, there are steps women can take to keep their hair as healthy as possible to prevent breakage and damage.
Hair care tips:
Avoid treatments that can damage the hair, such as perming, straightening, and hair extensions.
Eat a diet rich in protein, essential vitamins, (B7 and B12), zinc and iron.
Protect the hair from sun damage by wearing a hat.
Avoid brushing the hair when it is wet and fragile. Use a comb or the fingers instead.
Female pattern baldness can be distressing. Women who experience excessive hair loss should talk with their doctor or dermatologist, who will help determine the cause and best treatment plan.
Early diagnosis can help prevent further hair loss. Treatments are available that help restore hair growth. The effectiveness varies depending on the treatment selected and the extent of hair loss.