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Understanding Hair Loss in Women: Can It Be Treated?

Although men are more likely to experience hair loss, women are not completely immune from the condition as well.

Affecting up to 73% of Asian men and women – losing the full crowning glory you were once so proud of is a problem that happens due to many different reasons.

Genetic, hormonal, and environmental factors all play a role in how, when, and why one loses their hair – and understanding how to go about treating your condition begins with understanding the why you might be dropping a lot more hairs than usual.

Unfortunately, the natural aging process goes against us when trying to maintain a full head of hair. It has been shown that less than 50% of women will make it past the age of 65 will full and thick hair. As we go through several diet and lifestyle changes throughout our life, this can also further accelerate hair loss – including having a diet that is low in iron or protein, undergoing intense stress, or taking medications such as anti-depressants.

The biggest cause of hair loss in both men and women worldwide is male and female pattern baldness – or androgenetic alopecia. It is a result of the hair’s growth (anagen) phase slowing down; and increasing the time between the shedding (catagen) phase and the next growth phase.

This imbalance causes the hair follicles to shrink gradually, which ultimately leads to a process known as miniaturization – or terminal hair that grows to be thinner, lighter, and finer – otherwise known as vellus hair.

More than 50% of men experience androgenetic alopecia, as compared to a slightly lower 30% of women. While both genders go through the same process of miniaturization – men tend to have a much higher rate of progression and tend to start losing hair at an earlier age. Instead, For women, this can be anywhere in her 40s, 50s, or 60s.

The characteristics of androgenetic alopecia is also different in both men and women – while men typically notice hair loss at the front of the head that slowly starts receding (eventually forming a defining “M” shape) – women lose hair diffusely all over their head, starting from their parting line.

The role of hormones in hair loss

It is widely known that high levels of male sex hormones (androgens) contribute to hair loss in men. Although they are essential for normal male sexual development and play important roles in both genders – high and excessive levels of androgen activity in the body is what triggers hair loss in many individuals.

When it comes to hair loss in women, androgens have less of a part to play – although they can still play a key role in cases where hair loss appears together with acne, weight gain, and irregular periods – otherwise known as polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).

Because women after menopause are more likely to have hair loss, it is also argued that female hormones like estrogen might play a role.

Types of hair loss in women

There are several types of hair loss that are commonly seen in women, and they are:

  • Androgenetic Alopecia (aka male or female pattern baldness)
  • Alopecia Areata (an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the hair follicles – this condition can also affect body hair)
  • Telogen Effluvium (temporary hair thinning caused by stress – typically occurs shortly after a stressful event such as pregnancy. Characterized by excessive daily hair fall, this condition is more common in women than men)

While conditions such as telogen effluvium are only temporary – others like androgenetic alopecia gradually progress until a point where it is much harder to reverse.

Although hair loss isn’t generally a serious medication condition – it can cause a lot of psychological harm to its sufferers. Studies have shown that the emotional impact of hair loss on women is almost twice that of men, perhaps because it is more socially acceptable for men to be bald. In one study, 88% of women facing androgenetic alopecia felt that their condition is negatively influencing and impacting their daily life.

Thankfully, with early treatment, it is possible to put a stop to hair loss, and even start growing healthy, new hair!

How do doctors diagnose hair loss

It is completely normal to lose 50 to 100 hairs every day, but those facing hair loss often notice that they lose much more.

Doctors often use the Ludwig Classification scale to help diagnose and describe the severity of hair loss in women, and it is broken down into three types:

  • Type l: Thinning begins around the parting line.
  • Type ll: Hair loss is more noticeable – the parting line starts to widen, and there is increased thinning around it.
  • Type lll: Thinning is seen throughout the entire head, with a see-through area at the top of the scalp.

To get a more accurate diagnosis, your doctor may also ask you several questions such as your medical history to better understand your condition.

What are your treatment options?

When it comes to treating hair loss, most medications and treatments aim to slow down the rate of hair loss, and only a minority of them can help to regrow hair.

Even though there are countless of supplements on the market that claim to help with hair loss – there is still insufficient evidence to prove their effectiveness.

Instead, you should look out for topical and systemic drugs such as minoxidil, finasteride, and spironolactone. Not only is minoxidil the only FDA-approved drug for treating female pattern baldness today, it is also the recommended first-line therapy for those suffering from mild-to-moderate hair loss.

Working by lengthening the growth phase of hair follicles – studies have shown that minoxidil is effective in helping patients grow back a good amount of hair and give it a thicker appearance overtime – where 60% of women will experience mild-to-moderate regrowth as a result of treatment! Coming in two different solutions (2% and 5%) – the 5% solution is often prescribed for more severe cases or when patients aren’t seeing results with first-line therapies.

While finasteride is also FDA-approved, it is only approved for treating androgenetic alopecia in men. However, it is sometimes still recommended for women who are facing androgen-dependent hair loss due to its anti-androgen effects.

On the other hand, spironolactone is a diuretic that also helps inhibit androgen production, although it should only be used when high levels of androgen activity is present, or if you aren’t seeing any results with minoxidil. Using spironolactone has been shown to stop hair loss in 90% of women with androgenetic alopecia.

In the case of alopecia areata, corticosteroids may also be administered to help suppress the immune system.

Although oral and topical medications are largely effective in treating mild-to-moderate hair loss, they often take time to see results, i.e., 6 – 12 months. Also, it is common for hair loss to come back after you stop treatment, and side effects such as irritation and hair growth at other areas can occur.

There is also the risk of adverse side effects such as birth defects when using high doses of finasteride and spironolactone. Doctors should always be transparent with patients in managing the expectations of patients and helping them understand the side effects that comes with any treatment.

Other treatment options such as laser treatment or PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy can also be useful. For a more “permanent” solution – patients can turn to hair transplants, where hair follicles are retrieved from one part of the scalp and implanted into the areas which need it most.

The success of your hair transplant largely depends on whether you are a good candidate for the procedure and the experience of your surgeon. Ideally, you want to have enough healthy hair for extraction, otherwise, getting a hair transplant surgery done will only result in unnatural and unsatisfactory results.

Because male and female hairlines differ in shape, patterns, and even directional flow – it is important to find a doctor who is proficient not just in male hair transplants, but has a good record dealing with female patients as well.

Treating female hair loss @ The Clifford Clinic

At our clinic, we like to utilize a highly-customized, combination approach to treat all our patients and help them achieve the best results.

Studies have shown that employing a combination approach such as minoxidil and spironolactone can significantly improve hair growth, reduce shedding, and improve hair density! With the addition of micro-needling and laser treatments, hair loss treatments can be further boosted to enhance your results.

The Clifford Clinic also offers one of the best regenerative therapy for hair loss today called Regenera Activa. Extracting skin simples and mixing it with a solution containing growth factors and stem cells, it is later injected into the scalp to stimulate hair growth.

Patients will be able to see an improved hair density and hair count in just 4 – 6 weeks after the first treatment, with plenty of studies showing its safety profile. If you aren’t deemed to be a good candidate for conventional hair transplants, Regenera Activa is the perfect solution for you.

The Clifford Clinic offers a plethora of hair loss solutions to treat all types of hair loss – regardless of your gender. While it may all seem pretty straightforward, medications and laser treatments still require an knowledgeable doctor with experience to prescribe and execute on the best dosage and wavelengths to achieve optimal results.

We offer topical and oral medications, hair growth serums, laser hair treatments, Regenera Activa, FUE hair transplant surgery, as well as the ARTAS hair transplantation robot that allows us to effectively treat the most severe cases of hair loss with consistent results and greater accuracy.

It is not just men who experience hair loss, but women as well. If you are suffering from hair loss – know that there is nothing to be ashamed of. With early treatment, regaining your youth, vitality, and confidence with a full head of hair is still possible!

Book an appointment today to consult our doctors and learn more about our hair loss treatment prices. If you are facing acne together with hair loss – we also offer one of the best acne spot treatments in Singapore!

FAQ

  • When should I see a doctor regarding my hair loss?

If you are noticing hair loss that results in excessive daily hair fall or seeing patches of missing hair on your scalp – it is time to get a proper diagnosis and advice from a professional doctor. You should also see a doctor when hair loss is heavily impacting your daily life and mental health.

  • Who is more likely to have hair loss?

You are more likely to suffer from some type of hair loss if you are a woman who is approaching her 40s, have just undergone menopause, chemotherapy, or pregnancy, or frequently wear hairstyles that pull tightly on your hair.

  • What is the best way to prevent hair loss?

Although you won’t be able to completely stop hair loss due to aging – there are many ways to help prevent and minimize the rate at which you lose your hair. This includes eating a healthy diet, avoiding harsh chemicals and treatments that can cause your hair follicles to become brittle and break easily, and seeking treatment as early as you can.

Also, learn to manage stress and take good care of your mind and body – especially during this trying period, doing so will become even more essential in preventing unwanted hair loss.

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