Thinning Hair And Hair Loss: Could It Be Female Pattern Hair Loss
For most women, FPHL begins in midlife, when a woman is in her 40s, 50s, or 60s. It can begin earlier for some women.
FPHL is a progressive condition. This means women tend to continue losing hair. But women do not lose all of their hair, as do some men. Instead, your part often gets wider. Hair near your temples may recede. Without treatment, some women eventually develop widespread thinning.
Treatment can prevent hair loss from worsening and help women regrow their hair. Treatment delivers the best results when started at the first sign of hair loss.
Causes Of Temporary Hair Loss
You can avoid hair loss and promote regrowth when hair loss is temporarily caused by:
Tight hairstyles. Tight ponytails, braids and cornrows can all cause hair loss and damage the follicles, which regulate hair growth. Changing hairstyles can help prevent thinning. But beware: When the follicles sustain too much damage, hair loss can be permanent.
Extreme physical shock/stress. Dramatic changes in the body can cause temporary hair loss. Giving birth, rapid weight loss, surgery and certain illnesses may cause more hair loss than usual, typically in the resting phase. But hair should grow back over time.
Medical therapies and toxic substances. Chemotherapy, certain other drugs and radiation treatments can prompt hair loss, mainly in the growth phase. Hair loss can strike suddenly, anywhere in the body. It is typically temporary .
Nutritional deficiencies. Not getting enough iron, protein or vitamin B12 in your diet can also cause your hair to thin. If this happens to you, talk to your doctor about supplements.
Talk To Our Hair Loss Doctors
Talking to a hair loss doctor is a quick, easy way to find out whats causing your hair loss and what you can do to stop it.
Are you worried about hair loss? Take an online consultation with one of our doctors to learn whats causing your hair loss, what treatment options are available and how you can prevent further hair loss.
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What Are The Common Causes Of Hair Loss In Women
What causes hair loss?
- Hair style: Your style of hair can cause hair loss when your hair is arranged in ways that pull on your roots, like tight ponytails, braids, or corn rows. This type of hair loss is called traction alopecia. If hair follicles are damaged, the loss can be permanent.
- Vitamin deficiency.
- Over processed scalp hair .
What causes anagen effluvium hair loss?
- Toxic substances, including chemotherapy, radiation therapy and some medications. These cause sudden hair loss that can occur anywhere on your body. It happens to hair in the growth stage. Sometimes, this type of hair loss can be permanent if your hair follicles are damaged.
What causes telogen effluvium hair loss?
- Extreme physical stress or shock to your body: This causes temporary hair loss. This category includes events like losing a lot of weight, surgery, anemia, illness and having a baby.
- Extreme emotional stress: mental illness, the death of a loved one, etc.
- An abnormal thyroid.
- Medications and supplements: blood pressure medicines, gout medicines and high doses of Vitamin A.
- Hormone changes caused by pregnancy, menopause or birth control pills.
What causes FPHL ?
- Genes: Your familys genes can cause thinning of hair along the top of your head.
- Aging: Hormone changes as you age can cause balding.
- Menopause: This type of hair loss often gets worse when estrogen is lost during menopause.
There are also some conditions that affect hair loss:
Surgical Procedures For Hair Loss
The type of procedure that a dermatologist recommends depends on how much hair you have lost and the cause. While we do not currently provide the following surgical procedures, your dermatologist may refer you to a medical professional who does.
- Hair transplantation: Skin on the scalp that has good hair growth is removed and transplanted to areas of the scalp that need hair.
- Scalp reduction: Bald scalp is surgically removed and hair-bearing scalp is brought closer together to reduce balding. Scalp reduction surgery can be performed alone or in conjunction with a hair transplant.
- Scalp expansion: Devices are inserted under the scalp for about 3 to 4 weeks to stretch the skin. This procedure may be performed before a scalp reduction to make the scalp more lax. It also can be performed solely to stretch hair-bearing areas, which reduces balding.
- Scalp flaps: A hair-bearing segment of scalp is surgically moved and placed where hair is needed.
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How Do Dermatologists Treat Hair Loss
Just as there are many causes, there are many treatments for hair loss. Dermatologists recommend treating hair loss early, before you lose a lot of hair. Hair loss is harder to treat when a person has already lost an extreme amount of hair.
One or more of the following treatments may be part of your treatment plan.
What Prescription Medications Can Help With Thinning Hair
A dermatologist may prescribe one of the following oral medications to treat male-pattern baldness and female-pattern hair loss:
- Spironolactone: Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a diuretic and for treating high blood pressure. Doctors have been prescribing spironolactone for decades to treat thinning of hair. However, as this medication can increase the potassium levels in the body, you should inform your doctor if you suffer from kidney or adrenal gland problems.
- Finasteride: Finasteride is an oral medication approved for hair loss in men but not for women. It works by improving the levels of the hormone testosterone.
Both these medications can cause birth defects in male children. Hence, dermatologists usually do not prescribe them to women of child-bearing age. If they do prescribe them, they generally recommend taking birth control measures.
These medications are mostly reserved for menopausal women who do not respond to treatment with minoxidil.
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What Are The Myths About Hair Loss
Myths about hair loss are widespread. Nothing in the following list is true:
- Youre losing hair because you shampoo it too much, or because youve colored it or gotten a perm.
- Dandruff causes permanent hair loss in women.
- Stress causes permanent hair loss in women.
- If you shave your head, your hair will grow back twice as thick.
- If you stand on your head youll increase circulation, stimulating hair growth.
- If you brush your hair 100 strokes a day that will make your hair healthier.
- Hats and wigs cause hair loss in women.
- Hair loss only affects intellectual women.
What Causes Hair Loss
Many instances of hair loss are linked to genetics. If you have a family history of hair loss or balding, you may be more likely to experience these issues with age. Hair loss can also occur due to changes in hormones, particularly during pregnancy and menopause, and because of any thyroid issues. Stress may play a factor in hair loss as well.
Medical conditions and medications have been linked to certain types of hair loss. Alopecia areata, for example, is a common condition that causes hair loss in patches. Infections can have a similar effect. If youre taking medications for conditions like depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure, hair loss could be a side effect. So, its important to talk to your doctor about any concerns. Hair loss is a common side effect for cancer drugs like chemotherapy, as well as cancer treatments like radiation to the head region.
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How Common Is Hair Loss In Women
Many people think that hair loss only affects men. However, it is estimated that more than 50% of women will experience noticeable hair loss. The most significant cause of hair loss in women is female-pattern hair loss , which affects about one-third of susceptible women, which equals out to some 30 million women in the United States.
Do You Need A Hair Loss Doctor
Medically reviewed by Patrick Carroll, MD
If youve noticed your hairline starting to recede or your hair beginning to thin, one of the most important steps you can take in stopping any further hair loss is getting in touch with a hair loss doctor.
Hair loss can start as early as your teens, and some men experience the early signs of male pattern baldness in their 20s or 30s. The point is, with baldness, the earlier you take action and seek treatment, the more of your hair youll be able to keep.
Luckily, almost all male hair loss is treatable today. A hair loss doctor can work with you to find out whats causing your hair loss and put together a hair loss prevention protocol that helps you minimize further loss and keep as much of your hair as possible.
Not sure if you need a hair loss doctor? Below, weve listed the key benefits of talking to a hair loss doctor, as well as some signs you can look for to know when its time to take action and do something about your hair loss.
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When To See A Doctor
In most cases, thinning hair is not linked with overall health problems. If a person is concerned about hair loss, or if it affects their mental well-being, they can see a doctor.
If a person loses a lot of hair with no known cause, they should see their doctor. This is especially important if they have recently made dietary changes or started taking supplements.
The doctor may recommend that a person sees a skin specialist, or dermatologist, to determine the best ways to treat thinning hair.
What Is Normal Hair Loss
Normal hair shedding is about 50-100 hairs each day. Understanding hair regrowth and shedding patterns can help you to recognize what is normal hair fall and what may require more attention.
The three stages of hair growth are anagen, catagen and telogen. During the anagen phase, your hair follicles are in a stage of active growth. Most scalp hair follicles stay in this phase for two to six years before moving on to the catagen stage a two-to-three-week transitional stage where cell growth at the root of the hair stops and the hair follicles prepare for shedding. During the final or telogen stage, hairs that have stopped growing are shed from the scalp.
The three phases of hair growth occur in each hair. However, not all hairs are in the same stage simultaneously, which keeps a fairly consistent density of hair on your head. Some factors, such as stress or certain medical conditions, can force hair follicles into the telogen phase more quickly, which can result in amplified hair loss.
Normal daily hair follicle shedding should not result in less hair overall or lead to thin hair. If the amount of hair fall you’re experiencing increases suddenly, start by ruling out simple explanations like recent changes in behavior patterns, hairstyles or a hair care routine that stresses your hair.
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What Can I Do About Traction Alopecia
To protect your hair from traction alopecia and prevent further damage:
- Ask your stylist to create looser braids or dreadlocks.
- If you have braids, remove them after three months.
- If you wear a weave or hair extensions, remove them after eight weeks.
- If you have relaxed or dyed hair, make sure these treatments are applied by a professional. If you still notice breakage or hair shedding, avoid chemical treatments completely.
- Minimize heat styling, including hair dryers, flat irons and curling irons. These wear out the hair and can lead to major hair loss.
Testing The Degree Of A Womans Hair Loss
There are two widely known female hair loss density scales used by most hair loss specialists: the Ludwig Scale and the Savin Scale. They are identical except that the Savin Scale also measures overall thinning.
In the Savin Scale, shown here, eight crown density images reflect a range from no hair loss to severe hair loss. Density 8 is rarely seen in clinical practice. Frontal anterior recession is also illustrated .
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Doctors That Treat Hair Loss
The main doctor that specializes in treating hair concerns is a Dermatologist. Dermatologists are trained in hair, skin, and nail conditions, so if you choose to see a dermatologist you can be pretty confident that they are well versed on all things hair. Another type of doctor with a specialty in hair loss specifically is a Trichologist. Trichologists are doctors that have a focus nearly exclusively on hair loss. In the UK, Trichologists receive training in this formal field of study for two years, but in the US there are no formal requirements for Trichologists. A doctor can also be both a Trichologist and a Dermatologist, but not all Trichologists are Dermatologists. Aside from these two types of doctors, it is also common for general practice or other specialties to know about the most common hair loss treatments and be able to help you out with your hair loss as they received general hair loss treatment training in medical school. You can start by asking your current general doctor about hair loss treatment options, or you can have a free online appointment with our U.S. licensed doctors online to get help for your hair loss.
What Is Androgenetic Alopecia
Almost every woman eventually develops some degree of female pattern hair loss. It can start any time after the onset of puberty, but women tend to first notice it around menopause, when hair loss typically increases. The risk rises with age, and it’s higher for women with a history of hair loss on either side of the family.
As the name suggests, androgenetic alopecia involves the action of the hormones called androgens, which are essential for normal male sexual development and have other important functions in both sexes, including sex drive and regulation of hair growth. The condition may be inherited and involve several different genes. It can also result from an underlying endocrine condition, such as overproduction of androgen or an androgen-secreting tumor on the ovary, pituitary, or adrenal gland. In either case, the alopecia is likely related to increased androgen activity. But unlike androgenetic alopecia in men, in women the precise role of androgens is harder to determine. On the chance that an androgen-secreting tumor is involved, it’s important to measure androgen levels in women with clear female pattern hair loss.
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