Men and women are on much more even playing fields these days and the girls are bolder than ever – but bald too? Hair loss in women is becoming more prevalent and even baldness is no longer unheard of, although it’s generally not on the cards for most. But it is useful to be aware if there’s a history of baldness in the family, watch out for the early signs of hair loss, and know what your treatment options are, just so you’re ahead of the game if you are called up to bat.
The Bald Gene
There are a few different types of baldness that could run in the family.
Male pattern baldness is extremely common in men but it can be inherited by women too. In roughly half of all women, female pattern hair loss causes hair on top of the scalp to thin. The same pattern is seen in men but their hairlines will recede a lot more and baldness, where a patch of scalp becomes smooth and hair growth ceases completely, is also common. For women, overall thinning is generally the extent of the damage. The hair follicles shrink, like men’s, but they usually continue to produce hair, albeit finer and weaker. Hair loss treatments can prevent follicles from shrinking and thus maintain hair growth in most women with female pattern hair loss.
Alopecia areata is a hair loss condition that causes baldness in men and women equally. It affects one in every 100 persons and there is a genetic link in 25% of cases. It rarely leads to complete baldness, rather one or two small bald patches on the scalp, and sometimes the eyelashes or brows, appear. Unlike androgenetic alopecia hair growth can resume, even though the bald area is smooth, whenever the follicles receive the right signal. Unfortunately no one yet knows what that signal is, but there are treatments that are able to help some people. In 70% of cases, hair grows back on its own without treatment but in rare cases it could develop into alopecia totalis (complete baldness of the scalp) or alopecia universalis (total body hair loss). At these stages there is no effective treatment, but support groups may be beneficial for some women.
Frontal fibrosing alopecia is a rare and relatively new hair loss condition but researchers say there could be a genetic link. Effectively, frontal fibrosing alopecia is a form of scarring alopecia – irreversible hair loss – that causes dramatic receding in postmenopausal women and up to five inches of baldness. Scarred hair follicles cannot be revived which is why immediate specialist treatment is advised if women notice a recession of the hairline so as to eliminate this condition as the cause or prevent any further hair loss if it is.
Early Signs of Hair Loss
If you notice any of the early signs of hair loss, it does not mean you’re going bald but you should consult your doctor or a hair loss specialist. There are many causes of women’s hair loss and it could be a sign of something more serious.
- Excessive hair fall (100 is normal, 300 is excessive)
- Thinning hair
- Widening centre part
- Receding hairline
- Inflamed hair follicles
The only clinically proven hair loss treatment for women is minoxidil. There are alternative treatments and procedures ranging from herbal remedies to acupuncture to steroid injections, but the only method of treatment that’s been clinically proven and medically approved for hair loss in women is minoxidil.
It has good results in stimulating hair growth but the Belgravia Centre finds that there are ways of improving results by tailoring the treatment, because each woman’s case is individual, and supporting it with various hair growth boosters. For instance, someone with a mild case of female pattern hair loss needs treatment that is effective enough to reverse any hair loss but gentle enough to be used consistently to maintain hair growth and prevent any further loss. On the other hand, a woman with alopecia areata may need something more powerful to encourage hair growth from patches of baldness, and for this the Belgravia Centre finds high strength minoxidil to be most effective.
For more information about women’s hair loss, or if you’re experiencing any of the early signs, call the Belgravia Centre on 020 7730 6666 or message us. You can see the results our patients achieve in our hair loss success stories.We are happy to offer a free consultation which will give us the opportunity to diagnose your condition and recommend the most effective course of treatment for your individual case. If you’re unable to make it into the centre for a face-to-face consultation, you can complete an online diagnostic form and a hair specialist will be in touch.