Did you know that around 40% of women are affected by Female Pattern Baldness by the age of 50? It is the most common type of hair loss in women! Usually starting from the part-line, hair loss can be visible throughout the scalp in this condition.
If you want to prevent this hair condition or treat it, you need to understand what it is, why it occurs and its symptoms. Let’s begin.
What Is Female Pattern Baldness?
Androgenic alopecia or female pattern baldness is a hair loss condition linked to increased levels of androgens in women. It results in women losing more than 50-100 strands everyday.
Men tend to lose their hair at the temples or the front of their head when experiencing androgenetic alopecia. Females, on the other hand, start losing their hair from the middle of their scalp.
Female pattern baldness is genetic, but usually occurs post-menopause. This is why it has been linked to hormonal imbalances as well.
What Causes Androgenic Alopecia?
Androgenic alopecia in women is majorly linked to two factors - genetics and variations in the levels of androgens in your body. You may inherit it from a parent, if any of them has the condition.
Since it usually affects women above the age of 40 (after their child-bearing years), it is also thought to be linked to elevated androgen levels. However, the exact cause remains unknown.
What Does Female Pattern Baldness Look Like?
Female pattern baldness occurs when the hair growth process slows down. The hair follicle size reduces. This is why the new hair strands grow to be finer and thinner. However, complete balding is rare in women. They typically experience thinning hair and a decrease in hair density.
Hair loss starts from the part-line, eventually resulting in hair thinning across the entire scalp. It may even begin from the temples or the front of the scalp, but this is rare. Eventually, this may spread to the sides of the scalp as well.
3 Types Of Female Pattern Hair Loss:
Thinning that usually starts from the part-line. It may not be that prominent.
You may notice that your part-line is getting wider.
You may notice thinning across your scalp and you may even be able to see through your hair easily.
Who Is Affected By Androgenic Alopecia?
Female pattern balding usually affects women post menopause. It is not very likely for women to experience female pattern balding in their 20s or 30s. However, women with an increased risk of polycystic ovary syndrome may also be affected due to a rise in their androgen levels.
If you are experiencing hair fall during your child-bearing years, factors contributing to the same may be different. Other types of Alopecia, stress and low levels of certain vitamins can also contribute to hair fall that is not the same as female pattern hair loss.
How Can You Treat Female Pattern Baldness?
If you have female pattern balding, it is advised that you start medication early on, so as to slow-down hair loss. If you aren’t experiencing too much thinning, you can try experimenting with hairstyles to cover up the bald patches.
Here are some of the medical treatment options:
Minoxidil is an effective way of promoting hair growth in those affected by female pattern balding. It can be used in concentrations between 2-5 percent to address hair loss in women with this condition (1) (2).
Minoxidil has to be applied topically to the scalp everyday in order to see results. It can help in regrowing your hair, but has to be applied consistently for its effect to stay.
Minoxidil takes at least two months to show an improvement. Sometimes, you may not see results for 6-12 months after you start medication. Minoxidil may or may not work for you. If you don’t see an improvement a few months after using this medicine, talk to your doctor about the alternative forms of medication available.
Side-Effects Of Minoxidil:
- Weight gain
- Burning sensation
- Swelling of hands or feet
- Tiredness and difficulty in breathing
Did You Know?
- Minoxidil used to be prescribed to patients with high blood pressure levels. A major side-effect of the medicine was the growth of excessive amounts of hair in these patients. That’s when it came into use as a medicine to treat alopecia and other forms of hair loss.
Finasteride is used to treat hair loss in men. However, some doctors prescribe it for women too. Research suggests that finasteride can help treat female pattern baldness (3).
Side-Effects of finasteride:
- Hot flashes
- Reduced sex drive
If you are pregnant, do not consume finasteride. It can cause birth defects.
Spironolactone works by blocking androgen production in the body. Female pattern hair loss is linked to an increased level of androgens in the body. Reduced production of androgens may contribute to the regrowth of hair in women with this type of alopecia.
Side-Effects Of Spironolactone:
- Stomach pain or cramps
- Dry mouth
If you are pregnant, do not consume Spironolactone. It can cause birth defects.
Platelet-rich plasma is a method used to regrow hair in men and women (4). Platelet-rich plasma technique for hair loss involves drawing a person’s blood, after which it is processed and injected into the affected part of your scalp.
Researchers think that PRP is a method that promotes blood flow to the hair follicles. This also helps in stimulating hair regrowth.
5. Hair Transplantation
This method to regrow hair has been adopted by doctors across the world. Hair transplantation is a method that involves taking a strip of your scalp and attaching it to the part that is losing hair (5).
Follicular unit extraction and follicular unit transplant are commonly used to treat hair fall in men and women. Talk to your doctor about which technique should be ideal for you.
How Can You Prevent Female Pattern Baldness?
As female pattern baldness is a condition that is linked to genetics and hormone imbalances, there is not much you can do to prevent this. However, these general hair care tips can help you in reducing hair fall:
- Try maintaining a healthy diet that is rich in B vitamins and iron. This can prevent hair loss.
- Avoid using any styling tools that produce too much heat and cause breakage.
- If you are on any medications to address certain conditions and you’ve noticed an increase in hair fall, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
- Avoid smoking. It can damage your hair follicles and prevent new hair from growing.
- Follow a hair care routine and don’t shampoo too often. It can dry up your hair, causing it to break.
- Don’t wash your hair with hot water. It can strip away essential oils and moisture, resulting in damage and breakage.
Female pattern baldness affects most women post-menopause and is linked to genetics and androgen levels in the body. It is also called androgenic alopecia and typically begins with women losing their hair from their part-line.
It may or may not cause complete balding in women. It can be treated using various topical, oral and invasive medications and methods. While there is no way to prevent female pattern baldness, maintaining good hair health can help reduce hair loss in general.
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