Female pattern hair loss or baldness is one of the most common types of hair loss in women. Most women try to overcome this problem by covering up their bald patches or thinning spots by trying different hairstyles. Depending upon the causes and the severity of the condition, the hair loss problem may be either temporary or permanent. In this article, find out what is Female Pattern Baldness (FPB), its causes, and treatment options.
What Is Female Pattern Baldness?
Female Pattern Baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a progressive condition that occurs due to the miniaturisation of the hair follicles. The miniaturisation causes thinning of the existing hairs due to which the hair density decreases, resulting in female pattern hair loss.
It is non-scarring alopecia causing 2%-6% loss of hair mainly in the central part of the scalp in women less than 30 years of age. The condition can become acute and cause 20%-40% hair loss in women above 70 years of age. FPB may begin at any age post-puberty and is more evident when women attain their menopause (50-60 years). The pattern of balding in women is quite different from that of men. Although, many times we can see a crossover.
What Are The Signs Of Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL)?
FPHL is a progressive condition, which indicates that women will lose their hair in a gradual process. Like male pattern baldness where men experience loss of hair volume, female pattern baldness also begins with the hair losing its strength and density.
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In the initial stages of FPHL, women will notice that their hair partition has become wider and the hairs have become thin. If they do not seek treatment for this condition for a prolonged time, it may lead to permanent loss of hair. There are two patterns of FPB based on the treatments options recommended by the dermatologist:
|Thinning of the hair in the crown area with the frontal hairline remaining intact.|
|Thinning of the hairs and widening of the natural partition on the scalp with a breach of the frontal hairline.|
What Are The Causes Of Female Pattern Baldness?
Below Are The Major Causes Of FPB:
- Genetics – The primary cause of female pattern hair loss is hereditary. Women inherit the gene of pattern baldness from either parent. A positive family history of androgenetic alopecia in one or both parents or first-degree relatives is more common in those who develop alopecia before adolescence than adulthood. According to an observation mentioned in a study published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology, there was a 21% occurrence of patterned hair loss in the first-degree female relatives of women over 30 years of age experiencing FPB.
- Hormonal Factors – FPHL is common among women who are in their midlife, around menopause. It is a stage when the hormonal fluctuations are at their peak. Androgen hormone may also cause this condition. Also, certain conditions like PCOS and insulin resistance can be associated with FPHL.
Other Causes Of Hair Loss
Apart from FPB, there are other causes of hair loss in women as well. Though genetics is the primary cause of female pattern baldness, there can be certain underlying conditions as well which can affect the production of androgen. Androgen is a hormone that is an integral part of pattern baldness.
- Medicines – Certain drugs like cancer treatment medicines can cause hair loss as a side effect. The condition may reverse once you stop the medication, but it depends on the health factors of the individual.
- Autoimmune Diseases – In these diseases, the immune system attacks the healthy hair follicles, worsening hair loss.
- Other Ailments – Diseases like high fever, infections, stress and surgery can also result in hair loss in women.
- Tumours – Pituitary glands or an ovary or adrenal tumour can also result in hair loss as it secretes androgen.
- Traction Alopecia – Women may experience acute hair loss if they choose tight hairstyles. The undue pressure on the hair roots results in breakage.
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Stages Of Female Pattern Baldness – Images
Is Female Pattern Baldness Reversible?
Though there are different treatments available for FPB, there is no permanent cure for it. These treatments are effective in slowing down or stopping the hair loss. A few treatments may help in hair regrowth, but the results are usually variable.
Treatment Options For Female Pattern Baldness
Female Pattern Baldness is progressive. Treatment options that can halt the progression and reverse the condition to a certain extent include oral medications such as the use of androgen blockers and 5alpha reductase inhibitors (Finasteride), topical treatment involving the use of Minoxidil. Procedural treatment options include Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy or hair transplant.
- PRP – Platelet Rich Plasma is a non-invasive, safe and effective treatment that has become popular due to its excellent results. The method involves the withdrawal of the patient’s blood from the arm, after which the sample undergoes a double spin in the centrifuge machine to segregate the platelets. A dermatologist then injects this platelet-rich plasma into the patient’s scalp to stimulate the dormant hair follicles — the growth factors in the activated PRP help in restoring and re-growing the lost hair naturally.
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- Minoxidil – It is the only topical medication approved by USFDA for treating pattern hair loss in women. It comes in foam or solution form, and you can directly apply it to the scalp to help re-grow the lost hair. It is available over the counter and is a safe treatment option except for pregnant and lactating women. Minoxidil can range from 2% to 5% in concentration, and one should use it only after consulting a dermatologist. If not applied carefully, Minoxidil can cause hair growth in unwanted places such as on your forehead and sides of your cheek.
Medication – Certain medicines can help overcome female pattern hair loss including the following–
- Spironolactone – A powerful drug that can block the action of androgen, a hormone that may be triggering your hair loss.
- Cyproterone Acetate – It is a birth control pill that helps block the action of androgen in women, thereby treating Female Pattern Hair loss.
- Finasteride – Trichologists prescribe it only for women who have entered their menopause phase, as it may cause abnormalities during pregnancy. It is beneficial for women who suffer from high testosterone levels in this age group.
- Flutamide – Is another drug that helps block the effects of excess androgen in women. You must use it under strict medical guidance.
- Hair Transplant Surgery – It is an invasive procedure where a dermatologist will harvest grafts of hair surgically from the back of the scalp and transplant them into the bald patch. The doctor will use the follicular unit extraction (FUE) technique to remove each graft from the donor site, then dividing it into a few tiny grafts containing one to two hair, and planting each of them back in the scalp by creating a slit in the bald patch. This results in new hair growth, thus treating pattern baldness. A minimum percentage of women qualify for this procedure since their donor sites are unstable.
As discussed earlier, there are different causes of hair loss in women. It is essential to find out the root cause, as each of them requires a different treatment. If you are suffering from female pattern baldness, you should consult an experienced dermatologist who can conduct the necessary tests and then recommend the apt treatment for you.