Hair loss can be very embarrassing, frustrating, and defeating. Hair loss in women even more so, as it can affect your self-image in a society with rigorous definitions of physical beauty. While many men have no issue looking for help with their hair loss, women will often keep it to themselves, furthering their feelings of depression, isolation, and hopelessness.
The good news is that hair loss is common in women—roughly 50% of women will face hair loss issues within their lifetime. By around age 80, over 80% of women will deal with hair loss issues. There are many things that factor into hair loss, such as hereditary issues, female pattern hair loss, alopecia, and hair loss caused by illness.
Dermatologists will admit that they often see more women in their offices than men, because women find hair loss to be less acceptable. There are several effective treatment options on the market both for men and women, but what are the differences in those treatments? Are there specific treatments just for women? How can women deal with hair loss? HPI Hair Partners specialize in treating female pattern baldness, and can help you through every step of your hair restoration journey.
Female vs. Male Hair Loss: What You Should Know
Men and women face some of the same hair loss causes, such as androgenetic alopecia. While this form of alopecia is called “male pattern baldness” in men, it’s less well-defined or accepted with women. Hair loss typically features well-defined patterns, such as thinning at the temples or a receding hairline. Hair also thins near the crown, progressing to partial or complete baldness. Women who experience androgenetic alopecia rarely experience complete baldness, though they might face dramatically thinning hair.
There are many signs of female pattern hair loss, including:
- Hair falling out
- Large amounts of hair breaking off daily
- Noticeable thinning patches
- Thinning near the crown
- Seeing the scalp through your hair
Why Does Hair Loss Happen?
As women age, their androgen levels change. These sex hormones contribute to hair growth and reproduction, and they also regulate hair growth. As these hormones deplete, hair follicles shrink and result in finer strands of hair. Eventually, hair might thin or stop growing entirely in these areas, leading to the appearance of sparse hair.
Hair loss in women can be caused by:
- Certain medications
- Certain supplements
- Prior surgeries
- Extreme stress or shock
- Hormone changes due to pregnancy, menopause, or birth control
- Health conditions
Female pattern baldness and hair loss can become an issue in midlife, but can begin earlier in some women. Early baldness or thinning hair can be treated by consulting with your doctor or a trusted dermatologist, as they can determine the cause and determine the best possible route for your health.
The Three Major Types of Hair Loss
- Anagen Effluvium: This hair loss is caused by medication that poisons a hair follicle, such as chemotherapy.
- Telogen Effluvium: This hair loss happens when too many hair follicles reach the telogen phase at once, and fall out.
- Androgenetic Alopecia, or Female Pattern Hair Loss: This is the most common type of hair loss that happens when hair thins at the sides and top of the head. This hair loss is typically hereditary.
There are cycles to hair growth as well, and your dermatologist will be able to help you figure out where your hair loss is occurring and how to get to the root of the problem.
Hair Growth Cycles
- The anagen phase or growing phase lasts between two to eight years, and covers about 90% of the hair on your head.
- The catagen phase or transition phase is defined by shrinking hair follics, lasting between two to three weeks.
- The telogen phase or resting phase lasts for up to four months, and the hair falls out at the end of this phase.
Eyelashes, arm hair, leg hair, and eyebrows have a much shorter anagen phase, and the hair on your scalp might last for up to six years between growth cycles.
Treating Female Hair Loss
While hereditary hair loss is commonly unavoidable, there are steps that you can take to reduce or prevent your hair loss.
Ways to prevent female hair loss include:
- Don’t smoke
- Limit your sun exposure
- Eat a healthy diet
- Take supplements high in biotin
- Use preventative hair loss products
- Use hair restoration products
- Don’t engage in restrictive diets
- Avoid intense mental and physical stress
There are a number of ways to stimulate hair growth and prevent hair loss, and you should discuss your options with your doctor who can refer you to a knowledgeable dermatologist. Dermatologists are trained specifically in the treatment of hair and skin, and that includes hair loss prevention and treatment. Your dermatologist might recommend products with minoxidil, finasteride, or other topicals to help promote hair regrowth. While hair transplants are a more aggressive option, this procedure can be used to restore hair to thinning or balding areas in women.
Common Female Hair Loss Myths
There are many widespread female hair loss myths that are untrue and unhelpful. You may have heard some of these popular myths, such as:
- You’re losing hair because you shampoo too much
- You’re losing hair because you’ve colored it
- You’re losing hair because of dandruff
- You’re losing hair because you overbrush
- You’re losing hair because of wearing hats or wigs
None of these are true. Hair loss is most commonly genetic, and can be treated with topicals, treatments, and medications.
Are There Any Tips For Dealing With Female Hair Loss?
Aside from dermatologist-approved treatments, there are a few things you can do on your own to help improve the appearance of a fuller head of hair.
- Coloring your hair creates the appearance of volume, and may make your hair appear fuller.
- Massaging your head with your fingers or using a dermaroller or microneedling device can stimulate blood flow to the scalp.
- Getting a shorter haircut or adding layers to your hairstyle can give it a fuller appearance.
- Using the right shampoo can help, especially volume-adding shampoo.
- Avoid shampoos with harmful ingredients, and ask your dermatologist for shampoo/conditioner recommendations.
- Use volume-adding products.
Female hair loss can be caused by any number of things, and it’s most important to consult with your doctor before beginning any treatment plan. Hair loss prevention and treatment in women is possible, and there are a number of ways to identify the underlying causes. When treating female pattern baldness, always trust clinically-based, scientifically-backed treatments.