Mistakenly thought to be a strictly male disease, women actually make up 40% of hair loss sufferers. Hair loss in women can be devastating for the sufferer’s self-image and emotional well being.
Unfortunately, it is considered far more acceptable for men to go through the same hair loss process. Since hair loss doesn’t appear to be life threatening, most physicians pay little heed to women’s complaints .Of course what these physicians don’t seem to realize is that it can be just as devastating as any serious disease, and in fact, can take an emotional toll on physical health. Female pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss in women.
Each strand of hair sits in a tiny bulb in the skin called a follicle. In general, baldness occurs when the hair follicle shrinks over time, resulting in shorter and finer hair. Eventually, the follicle does not grow new hair. The follicles remain alive, which suggests that it is still possible to grow new hair.
The reason in female pattern baldness may be related to:
- Changes in the levels of androgens (male hormones). In simpler terms, when you reach menopause phase.
- Family history of male or female pattern baldness.
Without treatment, Female Pattern Hair Loss is a progressive condition; however, it is highly variable. Hair shedding is often episodic. The condition’s unpredictability and relentless progression contributes greatly to the distress of affected women.
Hair thinning is different from that of male pattern baldness. In female pattern baldness:
- Hair thins mainly on the top and crown of the scalp. It usually starts with a widening through the center hair part.
- The front hairline remains unaffected except for normal recession, which happens to everyone as time passes.
- The hair loss rarely progresses to total or near total baldness, as it may in men. Itching or skin sores on the scalp are generally not seen.
Female pattern baldness is usually diagnosed based on:
- Ruling out other causes of hair loss.
- The appearance and pattern of hair loss.
- Your medical history.
The doctor will examine you for other signs of too much male hormone (androgen), such as:
- Abnormal new hair growth at other body parts (e.g. face)
- Changes in menstrual periods
- New acne
A skin biopsy or other procedures or blood tests may be used to diagnose skin disorders that cause hair loss in some cases. Looking at the hair under a microscope may be done to check for problems with the structure of the hair shaft itself.
Hair loss in female pattern baldness is permanent, if not treated. In most cases, hair loss is mild to moderate. You do not need treatment if you are comfortable with your appearance. Treatment for hair loss includes medical management, advanced treatments like mesotherapy, platelet rich plasma (PRP) therapy and laser stimulation of hair roots. Hair transplant can be done in select patients, though it is more uncommon than in men.
To summarize, Female Pattern Baldness is an under-recognized entity. Significant hair loss is seen in over ¼ of females over the age of 50. Satisfactory cure of this condition requires knowledge of underlying causes, physical co-morbidities, psychological effects, possible differential diagnoses, and the various therapeutic modalities available.
The condition is progressive without treatment, regardless of medication, the response is slow, and requires patience and persistence in both patient and clinician.