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Image of woman's head to represent female pattern baldness

Female pattern baldness - possible causes, and how you might treat it

Female pattern baldness is more common than you may think, affecting around 40 per cent of women by the age of 50.

Losing a certain amount of hair is by itself not necessarily a cause for concern – as women tend to lose as many as 100 strands a day. However, you may want to investigate further if you start to notice bald spots or larger clumps of hair falling out.

So, what causes female baldness, and how might you treat it?

What is female pattern baldness?

Male or female pattern baldness is a common type of hair loss. It’s also known as androgenetic alopecia and typically starts as a gradual thinning along the parting of your hair.

There are very few symptoms of female baldness apart from a thinning hairline and a circular bald spot at the crown of the head.

Male vs female pattern baldness

While male and female pattern baldness are typically caused by the same factors, there are some key differences:

  • Female baldness tends to occur much later in life compared to men. Women usually experience hair loss from age 40 to 60, whereas most men will experience baldness by age 35.
  • Men have a higher rate of progression as women are unlikely to go completely bald.
  • Hair loss tends to start at the front of the head in men, whereas women typically notice it at their part line first.

What causes it?

Hair loss is not usually something to be concerned about, although it can sometimes be a sign of a medical condition such as anaemia, PCOS and thyroid disorders. Typically, female baldness can be caused by:

Genetics

Baldness in women is largely down to genetics and can be inherited from either parent.

Age

Baldness is a common sign of ageing. While it can happen at any point in life, it’s most often developed around the same time as menopause.

Lifestyle

Your lifestyle can have a significant impact on your hair. The main causes include:

  • Stress, which can disrupt the typical cycle of hair growth.
  • Harsh hair products, such as bleach.
  • Diet can cause hair loss, particularly if you are following an extreme diet or don’t eat a balanced diet.
  • Both pregnancy and contraception can lead to baldness in women, which is caused by the increase in oestrogen slowing the hair follicle cycle.

If you suspect that any lifestyle factors could be contributing to hair loss, it’s wise to get in touch with your doctor as they’ll be able to do a blood test to check for any vitamin deficiencies.

Other possible reasons for losing your hair

Your hair loss may not be related to female pattern baldness and there are other underlying causes to consider:

  • Hormonal imbalance.
  • Hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism.
  • Traction alopecia, which is caused by repeated pulling and stress on the hair.
  • Alopecia areata causes hair loss all over the body.
  • A scalp infection.

Anyone concerned about significant hair loss should seek advice from their doctor.

Side view of Arab woman to represent female pattern baldness

How you might treat female baldness

There are several treatments available to help, although the effectiveness depends on the underlying cause of your condition.

Creams/Solutions/Shampoos

Although there is no miracle cure to female baldness, there are a few products that can help:

  • Caffeine shampoos can stimulate the hair follicles and promote hair growth.
  • Minoxidil is a medication shown to be effective at preventing further hair loss.
  • Topical steroid creams can help stimulate hair growth.

Massage

Regular scalp massages can stimulate hair follicles and dilate blood vessels, both of which can help increase the thickness of your hair. When massaging your scalp, apply light pressure and use circular motions as you press down.

Mesotherapy

Non-surgical and non-invasive mesotherapy treatment involves a series of microinjections being injected into the target area. These small injections are applied just below the epidermis – around 1mm deep – which means it is painless even without anaesthetic.

Mesotherapy can help increase hair density, stimulate growth, prevent breakage, and repair damage to the scalp.

PRP treatment

Short for platelet-rich plasma, PRP therapy is a procedure in which your blood is injected into the scalp. It can increase blood supply to individual hair follicles that then promote hair growth.

Your blood will be drawn via your arm before being treated and separated into three layers. The platelet-rich plasma will then be injected into the treatment area.

Hair transplants

A doctor will take sample healthy hair and transplant this onto any bald or thinning spots. The healthy hair will be taken from an area where there is no hair loss – typically from the back of the head – ensuring only unaffected follicles are used.

A hair transplant is more suitable for those suffering from baldness that affects the whole head, rather than the bald patches seen in female pattern baldness.

Female pattern baldness facts

  • More than $3.5billion is spent treating baldness across the globe, which is more than the national budget of Macedonia and well over the amount spent on controlling malaria.
  • Cleopatra is believed to have recommended a homemade remedy of ground-up mince, bear grease and horse teeth to her balding lover Julius Caesar.
  • Ancient Greek medic Hippocrates believed that a mix of pigeon droppings, horseradish, cumin, and nettles was a cure for baldness.

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