Female hair loss is a very common occurrence but may not receive enough medical attention to it. “Almost 60% of women above the age of 70 and 50% below the age of 30 suffer from it. But instead of trying to cover it through different hairstyles unsuccessfully, it is better to seek treatment at the earliest,” says Mary Gail Mercurio, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the University of Rochester in Rochester, N.Y.
During a meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology in Miami Beach, Fla., Mercurio talked about the different types of female hair loss found in women as well as the different treatment options available.
Common Forms of Female Hair Loss
The genetically related hair loss or androgenetic alopecia is by far the most common form of hair loss found in women. When it sets in at an early age, like the late teenage, it can result in severe hair loss.
Unlike the case of men, hair loss in women does not take place in the form of bald patches or a receding hairline on top of the scalp. But the density of hairs on the crown progressively wanes. The time period of the growth and falling of hair also shortens and the hairs do not grow to its normal length.
Widening of the parts and shortening of the pony tails are the signs of hair loss.
Female Hair Loss Treatments
FDA has only approved Minoxidil 2% as the only topical medical treatment for hair loss in both men and women. Minoxidil 5%, meant for the treatment of hair loss in men is also effective female hair loss as well. But caution must be used while using it as sometimes, they can initiate hair growth on the face. Both are available in the form of liquid over the counter. The minoxidil 5% is also available as foam. The medicine increases the time period of the growth and fall of hairs, thereby, allowing it to grow to its optimum length.
Minoxidil is applied twice in a day and it normally takes 3 to 4 months to produce any appreciable change in the hair density. The earlier you start its use; the better will be the result.
Some recent studies indicate that the level of iron in the body is associated with hair loss in women. So, doctors check the level of ferritin, a protein that shows the iron content in the body. If it is low, then taking iron supplements is a good way to replenish it.
The Hair Max Laser Comb is also being suggested by doctors. Its use hastens up the blood circulation and other mechanism in the body, which is responsible for hair growth. Its use is only approved for men but women also use it. Although it may not be as effective as minoxidil, studies reveal that there was improvement in 45% of users after two months and in 90% users after 4 months.
Sometimes, hormonal abnormality, like the production of androgen or male hormones, can also be behind hair loss in women. If the pattern of hair loss is similar to that of men, then it can be due to this. Doctors prescribe oral contraceptives or spironolactone in such cases.
Finasteride ( earlier known as Proscar) is used for the treatment of hair loss in men resulting due to androgens. A study revealed that 62% of women found considerable improvements after taking synthetic progestin drospirenone through female contraceptives. So, it can also be effective for female hair loss as well. But the study is yet to be fully established. It can also produce some harmful effects on male fetus. So, it is proscribed for pregnant women or who intend to bear child.
Female hair loss vis-à-vis Hair care
The styling of hair is often thought to be the reason behind hair loss in women. But this notion has got no real basis. The coloring, perming or washing has no role in hair loss in women. Doctors advise to use an antidandruff shampoo with ketoconazole (anti-fungal) or zinc pyrthione that is both antifungal and antibacterial to control female hair loss.
Female hair loss as the symptoms of other disorders
Female hair loss could also be associated with other problems. Hyperandrogenism, a condition resulting from excessive secretion of androgens is one of them. The common form of hyperandrogenism in women is ovarian functional ovarian hyperandrogenism or polycystic ovary syndrome which can result in infertility, weight gains, development of acne, irregular menstruation cycle are other syndromes.
Women suffering from ovarian hypoandrogenism can also have high blood pressure and excess fat in the belly area; conditions that are known to increase the risks of diabetes, cardiac problems and strokes. The hair loss resulting due to hyperandrogenism can be stopped by the use of minoxidil but you need to take care of other medical conditions.
Ladies, don’t suffer female hair loss in silence, take that first step and consult your doctor.