People link their hair with identity across cultures, so it’s no wonder that hair loss is especially devastating for many of us. Coping with female hair loss and not sure what to do? Read on for advice and the reassurance that you are not alone.
Hair loss is often associated with men, but millions of women cope with female pattern thinning and other conditions that cause extensive hair loss. Since it’s less common, many women struggle with hair loss's mental impact far harder than men. Despite the fact that many women lose their hair or experience thinning at some point in their lives, there is a cultural pressure to keep up appearances that can negatively impact a woman’s self-esteem.
Hair loss in women can happen for a few different reasons, the most common being female pattern thinning. The hereditary, female counterpart to male pattern baldness, female pattern thinning, or baldness usually impacts women during and after menopause. With that said, pattern baldness can occur at any time, and it’s not the only source of female hair loss. The term ‘pattern baldness’ refers to the way in which hair thins or is lost. In men, the loss generally forms at the forehead and on the top of the scalp. With women, the pattern is more of a slowing of growth rather than a total loss in an area. Any form of hair loss falls under the umbrella of the condition alopecia. Hereditary pattern baldness is called androgenic alopecia. Other, more extreme forms of alopecia can impact men and women alike. Alopecia areata, totalis, or universalis, are all rarer conditions that may be related to the body’s immune response. These conditions refer to a total loss of hair, down to baldness either in one area or across a person’s whole body.
Though hair loss sounds daunting, if treated early, you can often prevent the worst of it. There is some degree of hair loss that everyone experiences as they grow older, as our bodily functions slow and are unable to keep up with the amount of hair we lose. You cannot stop hair loss completely, there’s no miracle cure for it, but there are many things you can do to help slow it.
There are certain scenarios where you may not need to worry about the hair loss being permanent. There are stages in life where hair loss may accompany other life events and return on its own. In most cases with alopecia areata, hair falls out in a specific area. This condition is difficult to treat but usually runs its course. While it might recur, it is not often a permanent condition. Pregnancy may cause temporary hair loss, in addition to other major changes in your body. Sometimes losing a great deal of weight quickly can cause hair loss in the short term.
For hair loss that is looking to be permanent, there are some treatments your dermatologist can recommend to make sure that your hair loss isn’t extensive. The first line of defense against hair loss is often the topical treatment minoxidil. Minoxidil helps to stimulate new hair growth and slow the pattern thinning that you may be experiencing. You apply minoxidil directly to your scalp, as directed by a dermatologist. There are over the counter versions of minoxidil, but your dermatologist can prescribe you the right dosage of medication for your specific needs. The results of minoxidil only last as long as you keep applying it. Minoxidil works if it’s prescribed early, so don’t hesitate if you notice hair loss. Results and regrowth are typically visible in 3 to 6 months.
Minoxidil is great, but it works best when in combination with other hair regrowth treatments. Some of the most effective treatments include: corticosteroid injections, laser or light therapy hats or other devices, and even hair transplants. Just know, when you notice hair loss, you’ll need to act quickly. Even if you think it’s a condition that may be temporary, consult your dermatologist as soon as possible.
Female pattern thinning and hair loss can be very daunting, but know that you aren’t alone in this experience. If you’re ready for help, don’t hesitate to call the hair loss professionals at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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