How is Hair Loss in Women Different Than in Men?
Whilst male-pattern baldness is a well-known condition, not everyone knows that a similar situation can occur in women. In this article, we will look at female-pattern baldness, other conditions that can cause hair loss, and treatment options for women.
What is female-pattern baldness?
Female-pattern hair loss, or FPHL, is a condition which causes thinning, hair loss, and sometimes complete baldness in women, usually over the age of fifty. Whereas male-pattern baldness tends to begin with a receding hairline, a bald patch towards the back of the scalp, or both, in women it is slightly different. When FPHL is in its early stages, women tend to experience thinning of hair in the parting area on the top of the scalp; this may be at the centre or on the left- or right-hand side, depending on how an individual styles her hair. Most women will not see any involvement of their hairline, aside from the very front of their parting.
As FPHL progresses, thinning will spread beyond the parting line to cover other areas of the top of the scalp. It may even go down to the temples and above the ears. Some women will experience more comprehensive baldness on top of the head, depending on the severity and progression of the condition. It is also possible for some women to experience male-pattern baldness, and indeed for men to show signs of female-pattern hair loss.
Any hair loss, in men or women, can be extremely distressing, and it may be necessary for the person experiencing the condition to seek psychological support, as well as treatments for the symptoms and causes of hair loss, if applicable.
What are the other causes of hair loss in women?
Aside from female-pattern hair loss, there a number of other reasons why women may experience thinning and loss of hair.
Women who are in the latter stages of pregnancy, have recently given birth, or are entering the menopause, may notice thinning of the hair. This is due to hormonal factors. For women who are pregnant or postnatal, during the earlier stages of pregnancy they may have noticed an improvement in the condition of the hair; thickness, abundance, and shine. Once a pregnancy has come to an end, the hormonal balance in a woman readjusts, which can cause some of the hair grown during pregnancy to fall out. This can give the appearance of thinning, and there may be patches of baldness. This is usually temporary, and resolves itself within a few months. Similarly, for women in perimenopause, hormonal fluctuations can cause hair loss, which also tends to improve as hormones come back into balance.
We don’t need to remind you how stressful life can be. Women are busier than ever before, juggling a career, family, personal development, a social life, and management of finances. This can be incredibly stressful, and chronic stress may lead to health consequences such as migraines, anxiety, depression, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Stress can also cause hair loss, due to the conditions alopecia areata, trichotillomania, and telogen effluvium. Women experiencing these conditions may find that their hair becomes thinner, falls out in patches, or disappears completely. Fortunately, stress-related hair loss disorders are usually temporary, and hair loss can be reversed. It is important, therefore, to try to manage stress levels, and make time for relaxation and self-care.
As much as we love trips to the salon, the work we have done may actually contribute to hair loss! Styling products, such as relaxers, can be laden with damaging chemicals. They can cause irritation to the scalp, follicles, and hair shafts, causing thinning and baldness. Suspending the use of these products often improves the condition of the hair. Hot oil treatments can cause burning and scarring of the scalp, which may lead to temporary or permanent hair loss. Tight hairstyles, such as twists and braids, can pull the hair from the scalp and promote temporary hair loss. Even at home, heat styling can be damaging to the structure of the hair. Try to limit the number of days that you use hair dryers, straighteners, or styling wands, and if you have the opportunity, give your hair a longer break to allow it to heal.
There are some medicines which carry hair loss as a side-effect. Chemotherapy is well-known for causing baldness in patients being treated for cancer and inflammatory diseases. Hair loss can also be caused by antidepressants, beta blockers, and anticoagulants. If you are concerned about any thinning or loss of hair after starting a new treatment, speak with your doctor; you may be able to try an alternative that does not come with side-effects to the hair.
Nutrition can play a huge part in the condition of your hair. People who are looking to improve the thickness and abundance of hair should make sure that they are getting the recommended daily amount of Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc, iron, vitamin C, and selenium. Supplements are available, including those which are marketed specifically to people experience hair loss, but it is better to ensure that you are taking in the right nutrients via a balanced and healthy diet. If you are looking to lose weight, ensure that your pace is not too fast, and that your body has time to adjust. Extreme weight loss, particularly over a short period of time, can cause to thinning and loss of hair.
Treatment options for women experiencing hair loss
If you are a woman experiencing hair loss, there are treatment options available to you. Alternative therapies such as acupuncture and massage promote hair growth, thanks to increased blood flow to the scalp. Corticosteroids may be useful for patients suffering from alopecia areata, or the side-effects of powerful medication. Lipogaine has a range of products tailored precisely to women with hair loss. Their formulations contain minodixil, which is clinically proven to encourage hair growth, as well as ingredients which protect the scalp. You can find hair loss shampoo products specifically formulated for people with sensitive skin, and color-safe shampoos to prevent future hair loss.