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Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia: Women’s Receding Hairline

Although it sounds contradictory, a widow’s peak is generally a term reserved for men. However, as more people become aware that hair loss is not just a male domain, it’s becoming clear that some women also experience a receding hairline. The female version, however, is called frontal fibrosing alopecia.

What is it?

Frontal fibrosing alopecia - a woman's receding hairlineFrontal fibrosing alopecia is a form of scarring alopecia, characterised by a band-like pattern of hair loss on the front and sides of the scalp. It’s a progressive condition that appears as a receding hairline – similar to that in men – and can cause women to lose up to five inches of hair. The eyebrows are often thinned or may even be absent and there have been cases of associated eyelash and abdomen hair loss, but these are rare.

Unlike most forms of hair loss, which can be mainly attributed to heredity, scientists believe frontal fibrosing alopecia is caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles and causing inflammation. This damages the stem cells within the follicle and if they are damaged, hair is unable to grow back. The skin in the affected area may look normal but is usually pale or mildly scarred. There may also be mild redness and inflammation around the hair follicles.

Frontal fibrosing alopecia can be confused with other forms of hair loss like female pattern hair loss or traction alopecia , and although it is a form of scarring alopecia, it is not like other forms of scarring alopecia such as discoid lupus erythematosus and folliculitis. That is why an expert diagnosis from a hair loss professional is always recommended for any type of alopecia.

Who is at risk?

Also known as post-menopausal frontal fibrosing alopecia, it mostly affects post-menopausal women over the age of 40, although it has been reported in men as well and may occur before menopause.

Because the vast majority of women who suffer frontal fibrosing alopecia are post-menopausal, it is thought that there may be a hormonal link. Genetic factors are also possible and because it’s a fairly new condition, an environmental trigger is thought to possibly be at work also.

What can be done?

Frontal fibrosing alopecia - a woman's receding hairlineDiagnosis is usually verified by the presence of the typical whitish, scarred strip of hair loss at the hairline and possibly reddened, inflamed hair follicles. However, other evaluation methods may include a complete blood count, a thyroid function panel and other hormone tests.

Oral steroids and antimalarials may temporarily slow the progression of hair loss, but they could have side effects such as depression, insomnia, abdominal pain, skin rashes and retina damage. And despite the assumed hormonal link, hormone replacement therapy has not been shown to be of any benefit.

Treatment is based around trying to control the inflammation causing the damage to the hair follicle. Some surgeons will also carry out hair transplants on the scarred areas of hair loss in frontal fibrising alopecia.

Up to 50% of women experience hair loss after menopause and most of the time it’s presented as diffuse-spread hair all over the scalp, or thinning hair at the crown. Clinical hair loss treatments have demonstrated to be many a girl’s saving grace when it comes to maintaining hair growth, be it pre- or post-menopause.

If you’d like to find out more or would like to arrange a free consultation with a hair loss specialist, call the Belgravia Centre on 020 7730 6666 or send an email. Or, if you can’t make it to the centre you can still take advantage of the online diagnostic form. Be sure to attach a few photos (see before and during treatment photos for guidance) and once you’ve submitted the form, a treatment advisor will contact you to discuss your results and personal recommendations.

More Information:
Hair Loss in Women
Hair Loss Success Stories
Hair Loss Product Reviews

Interesting Articles:
When Hair Loss Can Be Dangerous
Why Female Hair Loss Should Be Treated
Hair Restoration Methods

14 Comments

13th July, 2016 at 4:15 am

Alyssa cantor

What are the treatment options

13th July, 2016 at 9:42 am

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Alyssa, At present there are no treatment options for FFA unfortunately, as it is a form of scarring alopecia.

20th July, 2016 at 10:41 am

Anamika

Hello, I am 30 years old and in the past 1 an half year have been facing frontal hair loss. I had consulted a doc and i was recommended Tugain 5% minoxidil along with iron tabelets, however after 1 and half month of application i started getting itchiness on the areas where i use to apply tugain so i stopped the application. I consulted the doc about it and he recommended another treatment PRP for it. I juss bit scared of it now. could you suggest me some other natural treatment for it ? Thanks

8th August, 2016 at 11:51 am

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Anamika, we hope this answer is helpful to you.

11th December, 2016 at 9:45 am

Laura

I am 35 and have always had a high hairline however over the last year I have noticed hair loss more on one side resulting in a 1-2inch bald area at the front. Is this FFA and if not what could it be?? I am very self conscious about it and dread windy days or swimming when my hairline is exposed.

13th December, 2016 at 12:17 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Laura, please find a full response to your query here. We hope this is useful.

7th August, 2017 at 5:56 pm

Alexia

Hello, I am 34 years old and I have a hair loss only on the left side: Front and temples. Test hormones are ok, I think it is very sparse. I find spaces of 2mm between some hair but also very light...

8th August, 2017 at 11:08 am

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Alexia, unfortunately we can't diagnose this based solely on this information, we would need to examine your scalp and take some medical details too. It may be female pattern hair loss which can often be most noticeable in the areas you describe. We would need to assess you to make a proper diagnosis, however. You can either arrange an appointment for a free consultation at one of our Central London hair loss clinics or if you are based outside London/the UK, please fill out our online consultation.

8th August, 2017 at 1:18 pm

Alexia

Thank you for your quick response! Sorry to answer you a second time: the message was not whole! I think of an FFA since it touches the front of my scalp. I have no itching, I have no pain, I have no redness, but when I look close to some hair I find scale around the hair. I do not know if it's due to traction or FFA; thanks again

8th August, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Alexia, no problem! This sounds like a hair loss condition combined with a scalp issue. Scales or a flaky scalp are common in a number of scalp issues but uncommon in hair loss conditions. We recommend having a personal consultation as a hair loss specialist will then be able to give you a professional, personal diagnosis of your hair and scalp problems, as well as custom treatment options for both. We hope this helps.

2nd September, 2017 at 10:28 pm

Irene Ward

Hi, I seem to be receding as described, it's like a band from ear to ear. I have noticed that the Base of each hair is red and flaky. I no longer put my hair back off my face and now have a fringe to cover my forehead. Could this be FFA? Thank yoy Irene

4th September, 2017 at 10:14 am

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Irene, it is possible that this is FFA or it could be Ophiasic Alopecia - we would recommend having a consultation either in person or online, in order to get a confirmed diagnosis.

10th October, 2017 at 2:36 am

Lo

Would a scalp biopsy in the thinning area where FFA is suspected, give a certain pattern in the findings? Thanks

12th October, 2017 at 12:57 pm

Sarah Belgravia

Hi Lo. Please find a full response from one of Belgravia's hair loss specialists, here.

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