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Home >> Getting Informed >>Treating Hair Loss in Women
Treating Hair Loss in Women


Many women with hair loss suffer in silence, altering their hairstyle to hide thinning or patches. But the sooner you seek care, the better the chances of successfully treating it.
It's not as uncommon as you may think: As many as 5% of women under 30 and 60% of those older than 70 are affected.

What's the most common form of female hair loss?
Female-pattern hair loss, which usually has a strong genetic component that can be inherited from either the mother or father. Also referred to as androgenetic alopecia, this type of hair loss can start as early as the late teens -- and the earlier it starts, the more severe the hair loss tends to be.

Most women with pattern hair loss don't get a receding hairline or bald spot on top of the scalp as is common in men. Instead, there is visible thinning over the crown. In men and women, hairs are miniaturized because of a shortened growth cycle where the hair stays on the head for a shorter period of time. These wispy hairs, which resemble forearm hairs, do not achieve their usual length.
The first sign of hair loss that most women notice is often widening of their part or that their ponytail is smaller.

How is female hair loss treated?


Minoxidil 2% is the only topical medication approved by the FDA for female-pattern hair loss. Using the stronger minoxidil 5%, approved only for male-pattern hair loss, is very effective in women as well. But it can sometimes increase facial hair growth.The 2% and 5% solutions are available over the counter in a liquid, and the 5% is also available in a foam. Minoxidil works by prolonging the growth phase of hair -- providing more time for hair to grow out to its full density.

You have to be patient, as noticeable results usually take three to four months and the product must be used twice a day. It tends to work better if started early.

Doctors may also test for levels of ferritin (a protein that indicates the amount of total body iron stores). New research suggests levels may be low in women with hair loss. Iron supplements may help.

Should I change my hair care regimen?

No. Since there is no structural problem with the hair with female-pattern hair loss, women should continue their regular hair styling regimen. Sometimes women think they should stop washing, coloring, or perming their hair, but these things won’t impact the course of hair loss or speed up the process.

Wash with an anti-dandruff shampoo that contains ketoconazole (an antifungal) or zinc pyrthione (an antifungal and antibacterial).

Can hair loss be a sign of a more serious problem?

Yes. Hyperandrogenism, a medical condition characterized by excessive production of male hormones called androgens, can cause hair loss in affected women. The most common cause of hyper androgenism in women is functional ovarian hyperandrogenism, also known as polycystic ovary syndrome. In addition to hair loss, other signs include obesity, acne, and irregular menstration, and it is one of the most common causes of infertility.

Many of these women have metabolic syndrome -- a combination of five medical conditions including belly fat and high blood pressure that increase the risk of diabetes, heart attack, and stroke.

Although hair loss stemming from hyper androgenism can be treated with minoxidil, you need to seek care for the other conditions.

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