Pattern baldness is no longer exclusive to males. Nowadays, more and more women experience female pattern baldness, commonly caused by hormonal changes, ageing and genetics. Female pattern baldness can be very devastating because women value their hair more than men do.
Definition of Female Pattern Baldness
Each strand of hair grows from its follicle at a pace of 0.5 inch a month and it stays on that follicle for 2-6 years before it naturally falls off. When one strand falls out, another strand is waiting to grow and take its place. Female pattern baldness occurs when new hair does not grow to take the place of those that fell out.
One of the causes of female pattern baldness is hormonal change, specifically in the male sex hormone called androgen. A change in the levels of the hormone androgen usually occurs during menopause. Some women experience hair loss because the growth of hair is affected by the hormone androgen. While the hair on their head is falling out, the hair on other parts of their body is getting thicker. In these cases there is still hope for hair to grow back on the scalp because the hair follicles are still healthy.
In Comparison to Male Pattern Baldness
Male pattern baldness is usually characterized by a receding frontal hairline, but this is not the case with female pattern baldness. For women, the frontal hairline does not recede, but the hair all over the head gets thinner. There is also a significant hair loss on the crown of the head. For men, pattern baldness almost always leads to total baldness. Chances are very slim for women experiencing female pattern baldness to go totally bald.
Other Causes of Hair Loss in Women
Aside from female pattern baldness, women experience hair loss due to other causes, like hair breakage. Hair breakage is caused by excessive styling of the hair. When the hair is exposed to too much heat from a curling iron or hair dryer, as well as to chemicals from hair products, it becomes weak and brittle, causing it to break easily. Another cause of hair loss is skin disease. There are some skin diseases that spread to the scalp, causing the hair to fall out.
Symptoms of Female Pattern Baldness
Female pattern baldness is characterized by the excessive shedding of hair throughout the whole scalp area. There is also a moderate thinning of the hair on the crown of the head. Thinning of the hair is made more noticeable because there are already big spaces between the follicles, so the scalp now shows through the hair.
Get Professional Advice
Hair loss should not be considered as something minor because there could be a more serious medical condition behind it. To rule this out, it is advisable to consult with a doctor who will be able to recommend medication or treatments to reverse the effects of hair loss. A health professional can also suggest some tests to rule out poisoning from lead or arsenic as a possible cause for hair loss.
Medication for Hair Loss
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved drug that is an effective medication for female pattern baldness. Women can use the 2% concentration of Minoxidil and apply it to the affected areas of the scalp. 20 to 25% of women who use Minoxidil successfully grow their hair back. This medication can be very expensive and if you discontinue using it, hair loss will once again occur.
A hair transplant is a more permanent but painful solution to female pattern baldness. This procedure is done by harvesting healthy hair from other parts of the scalp and transplanting them to the balding areas of the scalp. It is very effective in making hair grow back, but there is a slight risk of skin infection after the transplant. This is also an expensive procedure and may take a few sessions before the desired result is achieved. It is a bit painful, but the results are permanent.