Female hair loss otherwise known as Female Pattern Baldness (FBP), affects nearly half of all women by the age of 40. Recent reports estimate that 21 million women suffer from hair loss in the United States. In this article, we will go over the causes and treatment for Female Pattern Baldness (FBP).
The most common cause for female hair loss or FBP is androgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss. Both men and women produce testostosterone. Hair follicles, as well as sebeceous glands, contain high levels of an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase.This enzyme converts testosterone in to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) via the blood. DHT is the main catalyst for androgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss in both men and women. Over time, genetically susceptible follicles are weakened by DHT. This hormone binds with the receptor sites of these vulnerable follicles and cause the hair follicles to shrink over time until they no longer grow.
The treatment for androgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss is slightly different for men and women. Men generally have localized areas (patterns) of balding, while women typically have thinning across the top of the scalp in the shape of a christmas tree. When women have diffuse thinning spread throughout their entire scalp, they are typically not good candidates for hair transplantation. However, women with localized (pattern) thinning can successfully undergo hair restoraiton surgery.
Hair loss drugs for women
Women and men react differently to the various hair loss medications available. In men, hair loss may be significantly decreased or even reversed by Propecia (finasteride). However, Propecia (finasteride) is not safe for women to take, but Rogaine (minoxidil) is safe and effective for women in treating hair loss. Another hair loss medication that has been prescribed to women for the treatment of androgenic alopecia or genetic hair loss is Spironolactone (spiro). Spiro is a medication that was originally used to treat blood pressure, but was later discovered to be effective in treating hair loss. Spiro acts as an anti-androgen by stopping DHT (the hormone responsible for genetic hair loss) from binding to its androgen receptor and affecting the hair follicles.
For women, the causes of hair loss are much more complex than the typical male pattern baldness. The causes can be hormonal, stress related or diet related. Therefore, a proper diagnosis by a pre-screened hair restoration surgeon is imperative to find the underlying cause prior to attempting any hair loss treatments.
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