Most of us think of hair loss affecting men. While this is statistically more likely, women of all ages can experience significant hair loss as well. This comes with a unique set of challenges as many women feel insecure because “women aren’t supposed to go bald”. Unfortunately, they do. Fortunately, there are ways that young women can treat, manage, or even reverse hair loss using modern medical techniques.
Today, we will discuss treating hair loss in young women by exploring hair loss in men vs. hair loss in women, some of the primary causes of women’s hair loss and modern methods of treating hair loss in young women.
Female Pattern Hair Loss vs. Male Pattern Baldness
First and foremost, we should establish that hair loss for men and women is actually quite different. Because male pattern baldness is more common and recognizable, it helps to compare the two.
Female pattern baldness
Female pattern baldness, AKA androgenetic alopecia, is more common than most folks realize. After menopause, as many as two thirds of women will experience some form of hair loss. Only about half of women reach the age of 65 without having some form of female pattern baldness. As we will discuss below, hair loss can occur in younger women as well. Female pattern baldness generally affects all areas of the head, with the most noticeable hair loss occurring at the part line (top-center) of the head.
Male pattern baldness
Male pattern baldness is also referred to as androgenetic alopecia. Unlike female pattern baldness, male pattern hair loss is more localized to certain areas. Many men experience hair loss that either starts with a receding hairline, a “bald spot” at the top center of the head, or both. Male pattern baldness tends to affect key areas and spread from there.
Causes of Hair Loss for Women
Now that we understand the basics, what causes hair loss in women? While there are a number of factors, some of which are not fully understood, here are some medically backed causes of female pattern hair loss:
Genetic factors: female pattern hair loss is every bit as hereditary as it is for men. If a woman’s mother, aunt(s), or grandparents suffer from hair loss, the odds that they will also experience hair loss are significantly higher. This type of common hair loss is typically the result of hair growing back thinner and finer over time. Eventually, the hair follicles will get so small that new hair will stop growing at all.
Hair growth cycle disruptions: as an extension of that idea, an underlying cause of female pattern hair loss is frequently a disruption to the three phases of hair growth. The three phases include growth, transition, and resting. When the growth phase is shortened and the other two phases are lengthened, hair loss can occur over time.
Less common medical conditions: of course not all hair loss in women can be categorized as simple female pattern baldness. Medical conditions which can result in hair loss include thyroid disorders, anemia, pregnancy, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), psoriasis, and many others.
Stress and other psychological factors: yes, it is possible for you to go bald from stress. No, it isn’t very likely. Women who experience hair loss from stress generally have gone through a period of extreme stress such as a traumatic life event, physical trauma, severe illness, etc. Getting fired from your job or a breakup may lead to slightly increased hair loss, but it is very uncommon for even major stressors to cause female pattern baldness.
Treating Hair Loss in Young Women
So what are we to do with young women who are experiencing hair loss? As we have established, many women experience hair loss beginning around menopause, but there are certainly cases of women beginning to lose their hair as early as their teen years.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) Topical Treatment
Rogaine is, “the only topical medication approved by the FDA for female-pattern hair loss.” Rogaine products do vary for men and women, but the active ingredient is exactly the same: 5% minoxidil in both the unscented foam and solution treatments. This illustrates the fact that while female and male pattern baldness manifest differently, they are similar in root cause (pun somewhat intended).
Treating Hormonal Imbalances
While the underlying cause of hair loss must first be determined, many women experiencing hair loss find hormonal therapies to be effective. Androgens, a hormone found in both men and women, has long been linked to hair loss. Excess amounts of androgens may be causing female pattern baldness in young women. Treatments including prescription medications can correct these imbalances.
Follicular Unit Strip Surgery (FUSS) or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE)
Hair transplant procedures can be broken down into two key categories:
- Follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS): a procedure in which surgeons remove a strip of skin from the scalp, separate the donor skin into smaller “follicle units”, and transplant the donor skin onto the desired area.
- Follicular unit extraction (FUE): a procedure in which surgeons use a special tool to surgically remove follicles individually from the donor area to be transplanted onto the desired area.
Join us as SCALE 2020 for the Latest on Hair Transplants, Women’s Hair Loss, and More!
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