Hair loss affects both men and women. Women who suffer from hair loss tend to aggravate their condition more than men due to the varying procedures they use to style their hair. Blow dryers, dyes, straighteners, perms, and other methods can result in alopecia (hair loss) of various kinds.
Men typically experience male pattern baldness, which is defined as a receding hairline and thinning crown, while women with female pattern baldness lose hair from the entire crown. Normal hair loss consists of losing 60 to 100 hairs a day, but when more is lost, the scalp may have trouble replacing them. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, more than 30 million women have a problem with excessive hair loss.
Causes of Female Hair Loss
There are many different reasons for hair loss, such as: skin diseases like lupus, hormone changes; major organ failure, such as kidney or liver; or any kind of cancer and chemotherapy. Other forms of alopecia include alopecia triggered by medication; traumatic alopecia or hair being pulled out of the scalp; and alopecia areata, hair loss in patches (which can often be reversed).
Autoimmunity may also play a part in hair loss. Researchers have noted that autobodies can develop in the hair follicle for women with alopecia. In other words, the autoimmune system is destroying the hair follicles, which keeps them from producing hair. Figuring out exactly why hair is being lost is crucial to determining the best treatment.
Female Hair Loss Treatments
Minoxidil is the only medication approved by the FDA to prevent hair loss. This solution, applied to the scalp, stimulates new growth on the crown and reverses shrinkage. Patients use it twice daily and may start seeing results in four months. Steroids, which can be used to combat autoimmunity, are sometimes prescribed for women with this problem. These steroids usually come in lotion form and can be used in concert with minoxidil.
Lasers may also help minimize hair loss. Red LEDs, or Light Emitting Diodes, can stimulate some hair growth by increasing blood to the hair follicles.
Preliminary findings have shown that Botox injections into the scalp may effectively delay hair loss and even prevent baldness. Doctor Simon Ourian, Medical Director of Epione, an internationally recognized cosmetic dermatology destination in Beverly Hills has tested and refined the treatment over a period of three years with volunteer patients. “The idea behind the treatment is to reduce scalp tension and improve blood flow thereby improving the tissue environment surrounding the hair follicles, “ says Doctor Ourian. Recently Doctor Ourian began adding a vitamin boost to these injections so as to enhance the efficacy of the treatments.
According to Doctor Ourian “In my experience Botox and vitamin injections for baldness are safe and potentially more effective than anything I have seen before. Potential side effects are similar to those associated with a typical cosmetic Botox treatment and include temporary swelling, pain and bruising.”
Many women are now exercising the option of hair transplants, once solely the realm of balding men. There are many different options available, and all of them may contribute to a full, natural looking head of hair. The procedure takes healthy hair follicles, usually from the back of the head, and transplants them to the balding area. According to Doctor Ourian though “a surgical treatment for baldness such as transplantation is a feasible option, it tend to be more costly than prescription medications or Botox injections.”
Drugs that stop the production of male hormones can also stop hair loss. Some women may experience a change in hormones with the onset of menopause or other conditions, and this can increase the amount of testosterone in their system. These drugs can block male hormones and keep them from interfering with hair growth.
Other women may decide to use wigs and/or extensions, or other hairpieces, to hide their hair loss.
Preventing Female Hair Loss
The saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” The following list can help women reduce, or even eliminate, the effects of alopecia.
- Wear hairstyles that are loose instead of tight
- Use shampoos that are not harsh on the hair
- Use conditioner regularly (there are situations in which conditioner can be used in place of shampoo; this practice is recommended for hair that is very curly)
- Reduce the amount of processing done to the hair, such as perms, coloring, flat ironing or curling irons
See a doctor at once if you think hair loss is an issue.