We girls love our hair, don’t we? Be it long or short, straight or wavy, or thick or thin; no matter what the color or texture of our hair is, we love it and make sure that we take care of it. We go to great lengths to ensure that we don’t encounter any hair-related problems. However, this is not an easy task, and we often end up dealing with various hair issues.
One such problem is the Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL) which is also known as androgenetic alopecia. You might have noticed some amount of hair fall but instead of dismissing it as regular hair loss problem, you might want to take a second opinion to rule out the possibility of female pattern hair loss.
What Is Female Pattern Hair Loss?
In simple terms, female pattern hair loss is the gradual loss or thinning of hair over a period of time. The impact of this condition is usually seen on the front and top of the scalp. FPHL is more common in women after menopause, but younger females can get affected too. There are three types of female pattern hair loss -
Type I – This is the starting stage where there is minimal thinning of hair which can be easily covered with the help of various hairstyles.
Type II – This is the next stage where you will notice that there is a remarkable decrease in the volume of hair accompanied by the widening of the center line.
Type III – This is the final stage where the hair is completely thinned out, and your scalp is easily visible.
The thinning of hair usually starts from the top of the head.
What Causes Female Pattern Hair Loss?
So far, medical practitioners haven’t determined the exact cause of this problem. However, they do believe that genetics and hormones are two of the main causes of female pattern hair loss. Since FPHL usually occurs after menopause, hormones are considered to be the cause of it. But this is still not a confirmed cause as there is no clarity on it as usually excessive androgens can lead to hair loss or thinning of hair. But, according to few sources, it is believed that menopause results in a decrease of the androgens.
Some sources are of the opinion that a tumor caused due to secretion of hormones can result in FPHL.
Can Genetics Cause Female Pattern Hair Loss?
Yes, genetics can cause female pattern hair loss, and it is considered to be the most likely cause of this condition. Hair loss is a condition that is passed down to us by our parents along with the various genes. You will be more prone to FPHL if either of your parents or any of your close relatives has suffered from hair loss problems.
There are three phases of growth for each hair – Anagen (active growing phase), Catagen (transition phase), and Telogen (resting and shedding phase). The FPHL is caused when your genes affect these three phases. When the hair takes longer to grow back, the hair follicles shrink and produce thinner hair shafts. Thus, your actual thick hairs are replaced by thinner hairs which ultimately lead to excessive hair fall.
Who Is At Risk Of Female Pattern Hair Loss?
Female pattern hair loss is a cause of concern mainly for middle-aged women. Almost, 40% of the women are believed to show the symptoms of patterned hair loss when they are in their 50s and 60s. This is referred to as late onset. Girls who are in their early twenties can also develop this hair condition, and it is referred to as early onset FHPL.
What Are The Effects Of Female Pattern Hair Loss?
When we talk about the effects of female pattern hair loss, the cosmetic effect or rather the individual’s appearance is the most common effect that comes to our mind. It definitely affects the way we look and feel as most of us consider our hair as our most prized possession appearance-wise. But this is not the only effect of FPHL. Another major effect is the psychological distress that it causes. Females experiencing patterned hair loss often lose out on their self-confidence and end up with a negative body image. In some cases, it can also lead to depression, low self-esteem, introversion, etc.
Since a lot of importance is given to how we look and present ourselves, a female with patterned hair loss often ends up feeling inferior to others and feels incapable of going about their daily tasks in a normal way.
What Treatments Are Available?
Below are some of the treatments that can help you in dealing with FPHL. Do remember that these treatments can only slow down the process of hair loss and not cure you completely.
1. Minoxidil – This U.S. FDA-approved drug is available in the concentrations of 2% or 5%, and you can use either of them for your treatment. With the help of a dropper, apply the minoxidil on the scalp and gently massage it with your fingers. Air-dry your hair and wash off any residue from your forehead or face. Do this twice in a day and avoid shampooing your hair for at least four hours after you have applied the solution.
2. Hormonal Treatment – Taking oral medications such as cyproterone, spironolactone, finasteride, flutamide, etc., can help in controlling the hormones which cause hair loss. You can take a combination of spironolactone and minoxidil daily to reduce the shedding of the hair as well as improve its density. You need to ensure that you follow this treatment for at least six months continuously in order to experience visible results.
3. Salon Treatments – These treatments are usually temporary and not ideal for a long-term solution. Cosmetic treatments include using hair wigs, colored hair sprays to cover the areas where the hair has thinned out, fiber powder which helps in bulking the hair, etc.
4. Hair Transplantation – Hair transplantation is slowly gaining popularity as an effective treatment for female pattern hair loss. However, this method is not ideal for everyone, and you need to consult your doctor before opting for this treatment.
Apart from these, the doctors at Oliva Clinic also strongly suggest opting for Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) therapy. This is an advanced treatment wherein the hair shedding is controlled, which helps in restoring the lost hair. The success of this cost-effective method can be vouched by their clientele.
How Is Female Pattern Hair Loss Diagnosed?
A series of tests are conducted in order to diagnose female pattern hair loss problem. Your doctor would start by examining your scalp to determine the pattern of hair loss. Next, they would conduct tests to rule out the possibilities of low iron or thyroid problems. A thorough investigation of your medical history would be carried out to understand if there is any genetic disorder, increase in androgen levels, changes in your menstruation cycle, etc.
Blood tests, biopsy of skin, and examination of hair strands under a microscope may also be required in order to determine if you are developing a patterned hair loss.
Now that you are aware about the why, when and what female pattern hair loss is, make sure that you pay a little extra attention to the amount of hair fall you have and take necessary steps fix the problem. Consult a dermatologist for an appropriate treatment for you. Do not wait until the issue is out of hand and you are left with a balding scalp.