When hair loss comes to mind, male pattern balding tends to be the first thought. While men are far more likely to lose hair in the classic M-shaped pattern, women tend to experience a different type of hair loss, and it’s fairly common.
If you’re a woman concerned about future hair loss or think you might be seeing some tell-tale signs, read on to find out everything you need to know about causes, treatments, management, and more.
Hair loss may be far more common in men, but over 50% of women experience thinning or light balding during their lifetime.
While male pattern baldness is commonly referred to by its scientific name Androgenetic Alopecia, specialists use the term “female pattern hair loss” to refer to most cases in women.
Like most instances of male balding, the majority of female hair loss cases are genetic in nature, suggesting that there are specific genes encoded in the human DNA that dictate the health and lifespan of certain follicles on the scalp.
The difference is that the male sex hormone DHT is far less concentrated in women, saving their hairlines from receding in most scenarios. Hormonal fluctuations following pregnancy or menopause are thought to be more significant events that impact durations of female hair loss, which may fluctuate in severity and length over time.
It’s clear that age plays a key role in the health and longevity of women’s hair, and some degree of generalized thinning is far more common for women past menopause.
Aside from age, hormones, and genetics, other factors might be at play that cause irregular or rapid hair loss in women, such as the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.
Women taking medication that manipulates hormones may also be at heightened risk for hair loss, so this should be discussed with doctors prior to reaching any decision.
Genetics is the main factor in determining hair loss in women, but it’s believed that women’s hair can be preserved to greater effect with better lifestyle choices and daily care routines – more so than in men.
While men are often told that wearing tight-fitting caps may lead to “traction alopecia” and cause permanent damage, the concern for women lies in hair products, treatments, and wearing their hair in styles that may be harming the scalp beyond repair.
There is not a widespread consensus on whether pulling, tugging, combing, or styling hair is truly harmful in the long term, but women concerned about thinning and localized friction will want to be gentler with how they treat hair daily.
Exposure to high heat from water, air drying, curling, and flattening irons is another debated topic in women’s hair loss. Some specialists believe that prolonged periods of heat from various sources can cause serious damage to the roots of the hair and shorten follicle lifespan.
It’s up to the individual to assess how their hair looks, feels, and behaves under certain conditions and change course if they notice things moving in the wrong direction.
In general, women should look for obvious signals of hair loss such as patches of thinning or missing hair or an unusual amount of shedding in the shower, on the couch, or the pillow in the morning.
Some women may notice ponytails feeling lighter or hair being less conducive to styling than before.
As expected, the trends observed in female pattern hair loss cases differ slightly from men, with three main categories. It’s important for women to know these categories and watch for signs of thinning.
Firstly, localized hair loss is the least common but most severe category, typically involving a traumatic injury or adverse immune response that requires immediate medical care.
Next is the “frontal” pattern hair loss, in which the edge of the hairline begins to recede and lose hair across the center of the head. This is not very common, however, since women’s hairlines tend to stay solid despite thinning on the vertex or crown.
More frequently, women tend to notice thinning along the center “part” of the hair, with a widening gap separating either side. This type of pattern hair loss is thought to be more conducive to procedures like hair transplants or hairline lowering since the outer regions of the scalp remain strong with healthy hair.
The most common category is “diffuse” hair loss, in which the thickness of the hair is reduced and weakened across all areas of the scalp. This is thought to be the result of the Miniaturization process of the follicles, in which hair becomes shorter and thinner over time.
Whether they’re experiencing noticeable hair loss in the described categories or just suspicious about the toll of daily habits and health, women should not shy away from speaking with a hair loss specialist to get a handle on the situation.
While dermatologists or general practitioners tend to stick to a one-size-fits-all script, only an expert will have the experience and skill to address a woman’s unique hair loss circumstances and map out solutions.
Depending on the condition, doctors may prescribe a topical medication like Minoxidil, which has been proven to be quite effective for women who begin treatment early. A great hair loss doctor will also offer ideas on lifestyle changes and quickly recognize if current medications are disrupting healthy hair growth.
Some women will seek more comprehensive or permanent procedures like hairline lowering, follicular unit excision, or scalp micropigmentation. Ideally, a hair restoration doctor will be well-versed in all these areas and be able to select the best solution for the patient.
With support, knowledge, and guidance from the pros, women can do a lot to take back control and combat hair loss effectively.
Still, you have so many questions about hair restoration: Is it safe? Will it hurt? What kind of results can I expect? Are my expectations realistic? Hair restoration is not a common topic of discussion. So, who do you turn to?
A successful hair restoration process starts with a consultation with an expert who truly wants to understand your personal goals. Dr. Jae Pak of Jae Pak, M.D Medical is a board-certified physician and a hair restoration artist with 15 years experience. With a complementary background in engineering, Dr. Pak uses precision-like skill to bring his patients a natural and balanced hair line they can be proud of.
Schedule a consultation with Dr. Pak today and discover what hair transplants can do for you.
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