Hair Loss in Women
Causes, Symptoms and Treatments for Hair Loss in WomenHair loss is most commonly associated with men, but it is also very common in women. Over half of women experience some form of hair loss by the age of 40, and around two thirds of women experience some form of hair loss by the age of 50.
Although there isn't a cure for chronic types of female hair loss, there are various treatment options, including topical medications, laser light therapy, hormone therapy, orally consumed supplements, medical drugs, or in some cases, surgical procedures. Diet and lifestyle can also help keep the hair healthy.
So, before we look at the treatment options, let's first look at the main causes and symptoms of baldness and thinning hair in women.
What are the three types of hair loss in women?
There are three types of hair loss in women (and men): anagen effluvium, telogen effluvium and FPHL. These three hair loss types cover a wider range of hair loss issues, all categorised within these three types.
- Anagen effluvium - This is usually something caused by medications that damage a growing hair follicle, like chemotherapy, for example. The damage can be temporary, or permanent, depending on the treatment or procedure.
- Telogen effluvium - This is caused by an increased number of hair follicles reaching the telogen phase, which is the stage where hair falls out. This is usually a temporary type of hair loss, but in many cases, it can lead to longer lasting problems.
- Androgenetic alopecia - Also known as female pattern hair loss (FPHL), this type is the most common, which is hereditary. Hair thins over the top of the head and on the sides, and is permanent. This is the most common form of hair loss in both men and women.
What are the most common causes of hair loss in women?
There are varying "sub-types" of hair loss in women. Here are the most common ones.
- Female Pattern Baldness - By far, the most common form of hair loss in women is female pattern baldness. This can occur any time in the adult years, more commonly in the 30s and 40s, but it can also occur in the younger years. Female pattern baldness usually starts with thinning, evenly throughout the top of the scalp, usually in and around the centre parting area.
The thinning can spread over time, and can lead to eventual baldness. Over 65 percent of women will suffer from some stage of pattern baldness by the age of 50. Some women will experience more severe thinning than others. Unfortunately, female pattern baldness cannot be cured, but it can be treated, if tackled early enough.
- Menopausal Hair Loss - According to studies, it is estimated that over half of women experience menopausal hair loss. Hair loss during menopause is the result of lowered production of oestrogen and progesterone. These hormones help hair grow faster and stay on the head for longer periods of time. When the levels of oestrogen and progesterone drop, hair grows more slowly and becomes much thinner.
Menopausal hair loss can be treated quite effectively without needing to resort to harsh chemicals and medical drugs.
- Postpartum Hair Loss - Many women see noticeable hair loss just a few months after giving birth. This is perfectly normal, and very common. Trichologists (experts in hair health) refer to this condition as excessive hair shedding. The excessive shedding is caused by falling estrogen levels. This is usually a temporary form if hair thinning, but in some cases it can lead to longer spells of hair loss, if not suitably treated.
- Seasonal Shedding - Seasonal hair loss is a temporary form of shedding that occurs during certain parts of the year, depending on each individual. Seasonal hair shedding generally lasts for 2-3 months. It most commonly begins in summer, heightens in fall and can linger around through winter. During wintertime, Telogen levels are the lowest as growth slowly begins again.
Although seasonal shedding is temporary, it can accelerate hair loss in women who already suffer from other types of hair loss, such as pattern baldness, menopausal and postpartum baldness, for example. An estimated three quarters of females are unaware that they experience seasonal hair loss. Like most forms of temporary hair loss phases, seasonal hair loss can be treated and minimised.
How To Treat Hair Loss in Women
There is not a cure for permanent hair loss types such as pattern baldness, however, there are ways in which it can be treated. Treatments can help slow down and stop hair loss in its tracks, but the effectiveness depends on a number of factors, such as how early you treat it, and what types of treatments are used.
Here are the most common and effective ways to treat hair loss in women.
- Minoxidil - Most commonly sold under the brand name Regaine, or Rogaine, minoxidil is the only medically approved topical treatment for hair loss. Minoxidil can be purchased over-the-counter, with no prescription needed. Minoxidil is generally regarded as a safe treatment for both males (5% solution) and females (2% solution).
Minoxidil stimulates growth in the hairs and may increase their growth cycle. It can help reduce the appearance of patchiness or a widening hair parting, but again, only on a minor scale. Minoxidil does not regrow a full head of hair, but it can generate some hair regrowth. Negative side-effects from minoxidil can include some irritation or an allergic reaction to ingredients in the product, such as alcohol or propylene glycol, leading to skin rash. Severer side-effects can include weight gain, headaches, and fatigue.
- Low Level Laser Therapy - Infrared laser combs, laser brushes, hoods, and caps can help halt hair loss, albeit to a certain extent. When hair follicles absorb laser light at a certain level, it can stimulate hair growth, however, there is not enough evidence to show that any of these devices restore hair or prevent balding, on a large scale.
Low-level laser therapy may not be sufficient treatment for hair loss on its own, but it may be effective when used in conjunction with treatments like Minoxidil. Speak to a trichologist about the benefits of low level laser therapy for your hair.
- Ketoconazole - Ketoconazole may help treat hair loss in some cases, such as androgenetic alopecia (pattern baldness). It can help reduce the shedding, thicken hair strands, and improve the strength of the hair. Ketoconazole is available as a shampoo. Nizoral is the best known brand and is available to purchase over the counter. However, because Nizoral contains a low concentration (2%) of ketoconazole, stronger concentrations will require a prescription from a doctor.
- PRP - PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy is a three-step medical treatment for hair loss. It is a process in which a person’s blood is drawn, processed, and then injected into the scalp. Parts of the medical community think that PRP injections trigger natural hair growth and maintain it by increasing blood supply to the hair follicle and increasing the thickness of the hair shaft. This procedure can be done alongside other treatments.
- Hormone Therapy - If hormone imbalances due to menopause are causing shedding, then doctors may recommend some form of hormone therapy to treat it. The most common hormone treatment is antiandrogen medications or medical supplements.
Androgens are hormones that tend to quicken baldness in women, particularly those with polycystic ovary syndrome, who typically produce more androgens. Antiandrogens can stop the production of androgens and prevent baldness. Antiandrogens can be in the form of harsh medications, or even naturally formulated supplements like HR23+, which contains antiandrogens like Saw Palmetto.
Talk to the doctor about what to expect and whether antiandrogens are suitable for you, individually.
- Surgical Procedure - In some cases, surgical procedures, like a hair transplant, will be recommended, usually in the case of patients not reacting well to treatments. Hair transplants can be effective, but they are the most costly treatment for baldness.
Micro Needling - Micro needling can be a good option to try if you are experiencing early stages of hair loss. This is a form of treatment whereby tiny wounds are punched into the scalp with a derma roller or derma stamp. The wounds then heal, and during the healing process, protein and collagen is formed, which in turn stimulates the growth of hair.
- HR23+ - Although there is no evidence to suggest that individual vitamins can encourage the hair to grow faster, deficiencies in specific vitamins can lead to hair loss or thin, brittle hair. Consuming enough of each vitamin in the diet may help keep the hair healthy. Combining various hair beneficiary vitamins into one 'multi-tasking' supplement, can be an effective way to help slow down the rate of hair fall, and increase stronger, healthier hair growth.
Multivitamin supplements, like HR23+, can act as safe and natural alternatives to harsh chemical treatments and prescription drugs. They are also ideal for women who are treating early stages of baldness and thinning hair. With continued use, HR23+ hair restoration supplement can help prevent excessive hair fall, increase the rate of hair growth and hair regrowth, and contribute to the function of healthy hair.