Hair loss is undesirable but common in men. However, when it comes to women, hair loss is a rather disturbing and a shaming experience. This is because most women relate beauty to a full head of hair. Female pattern baldness, also referred to as Alopecia Areata, is an autoimmune disorder that affects over 30 million American women. Women who have pattern baldness are genetically very sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) hormone. This causes thinning of hair follicles, which leads to a smaller hair shaft.
Symptoms of Female Pattern Baldness
Comparing with male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness is a bit unique.
- Beginning from the very central part of your scalp, hair on the top and crown would become thin first, and then it would augment to a broader range.
- Different from male pattern baldness, your front hairline will not be influenced. If you find your hairline become thin, don’t worry, it is a normal phenomenon that everyone would experience.
- You don’t need to worry about being total and nearly-total baldness, because it won’t happen to female, but would to men.
Causes of Female Pattern Baldness
There are several possible causes for women’s hair loss:
About 50% of women experience a certain amount of hair loss before they get to 50, and it often becomes worse with menopause. Hormones support hair growth, when estrogen levels start to change so does the amount of your hair.
2. Disease and Medical Influence
There are about 30 diseases including lupus, diabetes and thyroid disease that cause female pattern baldness. Actually, hair loss is considered to be among the first symptoms of these diseases. Other conditions that can cause hair loss include polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), ringworm and some cancer treatments.
3. Food and Malnutrition
If you have a poor diet, your hair can fall off. Your body redirects nutrients to important organs like the heart and brain. Your hair gets nothing if there is a shortage of nutrients. If you are low on vitamin D, iron, protein and calcium, your hair can start thinning. However nutritional supplements are not necessarily the answer, you should take them if you have an actual deficiency, but too many supplements could also cause hair loss.
4. Tight Handling
Traction alopecia is a kind of hair loss caused by holding hair too tight in a ponytail or bun. It is also caused by wearing braids or cornrows for a long time stressing the hair. Hair loss can also be caused by curling wands, straightening irons, regular use of relaxers and dyes as well as bleaching.
5. Pressure in Body and Emotion
Emotional stress, serious illness and surgeries can cause female pattern baldness. The body stops production of hair since it is not vital for survival and focuses on mending vital body parts. In most cases, there is a delay of 3 months between the beginning of the eventand the actual hair loss. In addition to this, there might be another three month delay before any noticeable hair growth. From this, it is seen that a loss of hair and regrowth cycle can take up to 6 months or more when caused by emotional or physical stress. There are also some health issues that might go unnoticed and cause hair loss. They include low blood count or anemia and thyroid abnormalities. You can take a simple test that is relatively cheap to find out if you have any of these conditions.
Treatments for Female Pattern Baldness
1. Minoxidil (Brand Name: Rogaine)
This is an FDA approved drug for pattern baldness. This topical drug lengthens the hair’s growth phase. You can get it over the counter in 2% and 5% formulas. For women, the lower dose is recommended. However, most doctors recommend the higher dose though it poses a risk of increased growth of facial hair. Minoxidil should be massaged into the scalp twice a day and in six months hair will start growing. If you stop using it, your hair volume will shrink back to the amount it was before you started using it. A 3 month supply will cost $50.
2. Finasteride (Brand Names: Propecia and Proscar)
These prescription pills are not FDA approved for women. However, some medical practitioners will prescribe it to postmenopausal patients. It is not recommended for women who are of child-bearing age because it poses a risk of birth defects. It works by slowing down the hair loss rate. Finasteride should be taken daily and will only work as long as you are using it. A month’s supply costs $70.
3. Take Iron Supplements
For some women, pattern baldness could be caused by iron deficiency. Your doctor should check your iron levels. This situation is commonon for people who have had a history of anemia or heavy menstrual bleeding. If your iron level is below 70 nanograms per milliliter, then you need iron supplements.
4. Nurse Your Scalp
To ease female pattern baldness, using a multi-tipped scalp massager on a daily basis will help keep your follicles healthy. You can also use your hands to massage your scalp. Ensure your hands are clean and you massage your whole scalp.
5. Use Hair Products
There are a number of shampoos that are formulated for hair loss. They might not work miracles on your head, but they will improve follicular health and hair growth. Some have fibers and protein that thicken the hair shaft.
Stay away from styling products like gel and sprays. This will help keep your scalp clean and reduce follicle damage. You can also try the natural or botanically extracted hair treatments that are meant to assist thinning hair. Ensure you do thorough research before you purchase any.
Haircare Tips to Avoid Hair Loss
To avoid female pattern baldness, take great care of it:
1. Avoid Heat
The less the heat you use on your hair, the better it is for you. If you must use heat apparatus, use adjustable ones and ensure the heat is at minimum. This will not have any effect on the growth of hair, but it will minimize breakage that leads to hair thinning.
2. Carefully Brush
When used with a blow-drier, rounded metallic brushes heat up significantly, and breakage can be caused by metal bristles or hard plastic brushes. Instead, brushes with flexible nylon or gentle boar bristles are recommended.
Hair Styling Tips for Thinning Hair
1. Switch Your Part
By changing the direction of your part, you help minimize hair loss. When you brush your hair in one direction often, it tends to lie flat against the scalp. If you normally part your hair to the left, try parting it to the right. Your hair will look fuller since it will stand away from the scalp.
2. Get a Volumizing Cut
Short hair cuts are favorable for thinning hair. As your hair growths longer, there is a likelihood of hair splitting and showing parts of your scalp. When you choose a length, ensure you get your cut in layers and not just at the tips.
3. Color Strategically
When you lighten or bleach your hair, you are likely to make it break or damage it. However, you can have highlights that will help you hide the thinning parts. You can do this by using color that is close to the color of your scalp. In addition, dye slightly expands the hair shaft making it appear thicker.