Female hair loss affects a third of women in the US while over 65% of all post-menopause women suffer from bald spots and hair thinning. Hair loss impacts women’s confidence and wellness more than men because society is more receptive to male baldness than bald women. This post looks at the causes of female baldness and some of the remedies.
The nature of female hair loss
Baldness in women manifests in the form of female pattern hair loss, otherwise known as androgenetic alopecia. The hair starts thinning on the forehead before advancing to the rest of the scalp leading to bald patches on the head. For women who do hair styling, hair loss is most pronounced on parts that endure extreme stress. Some women also experience a receding hairline that follows a straight line rather than the M shape associated with male baldness.
The relationship between female baldness and hormones
Female hair loss is related to the functions of the set of hormones named androgens. Androgens regulate hair growth and drive sexual urge in women. Sometimes tumors develop in the ovary or pituitary glands and hamper their proper functioning leading to excessive secretion of androgens. The oversupply of this hormone kills hair roots leading to thinning and baldness.
The excess androgens induce a series of biochemical processes that shorten the anagen phase of hair growth. They also lengthen the time it takes for the hair root to replace hair that has been shed. The hormone also interferes with the vitality of the hair follicles by causing them to shrink and produce short and thin shafts. The follicular miniaturization of hair roots produces thin strands that have lower pigmentation and texture than healthy hair.
Stress affects all processes in the body because it diverts energy from normal processes and applies it to survival responses. This means that the skin may not get sufficient blood flow and nutrient supply leading to hair loss. What’s more, stress hormones such as cortisol can damage hair follicles. They induce the growth phase to end prematurely and enter a prolonged resting phase. The lost hair then induces more stress leading to further hair losses.
When a woman is not taking birth control hormones, her progesterone and estrogen levels are sufficient to stimulate hair growth. These hormones are in high supply during pregnancy, hence the luscious hair bloom that develops when a woman is pregnant. Similarly, birth control pills and menopause reduces the supply of these hormones leading to thinning and hair loss.
Treatment of female hair loss
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Hormone therapy
- Nutrient deficiency
- Hair transplantation
- Stress management
There are several over-the-counter drugs that treat hair loss. These drugs stimulate hair growth when applied to parts of the scalp that have baldness or thinning hair. However, most drugs only act as short term solutions to hair loss and do not work for all women. Moreover, such drugs do not restore the hair to previous levels of thickness.
Some dermatologists also prescribe anti-androgens to female patients. The treatment often involves administering substances that neutralize male hormones, such as testosterone. This remedy is often used on women who suffer from polycystic ovary syndrome to suppress the production of androgens. Some clinicians also include a contraceptive in the treatment program.
In some women, hair loss is a symptom of nutrient deficiency. Consequently, some doctors prescribe food supplements to patients with low levels of iron or vitamin B and D in the blood. Both Iron and the two vitamins are essential to healthy skin and hair. Women who may benefit from this remedy include vegetarians, those who suffer from anemia, and patients with a history of heavy menstrual blood loss.
Hair transplantation is another remedy for androgenic alopecia. Typically, dermatologists extract follicular units from one part of the scalp and put them in the section that has the most hair loss. It is a delicate procedure that requires qualified and experienced surgeons.
Clinicians can detect stress-induced hair loss by testing for cortisol levels in the urine or saliva. If you have high-stress levels, they may prescribe drugs and recommend exercises that help you relax, such as yoga and meditation. However, chronic stress problems may require professional counseling. Why you should consult our experts
If you are experiencing hair loss, do not fret because we have qualified clinicians who can treat the problem. They will examine your scalp and check your medical history to see if there is an underlying problem. They will also order blood tests to determine if you could have a hormone disorder. Call us at (205) 352-9141 for further consultations.