Author: Sarah Belgravia
No matter the condition, it is a widely accepted fact that hair loss can have a negative effect on people’s confidence and self-esteem.
In a rare study comparing the quality of life of those with genetic versus autoimmune alopecia, researchers have found that one group is considerably more emotionally affected than the other.
Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss are permanent, progressive hereditary conditions which cause thinning hair to the top of the scalp from hairline to scalp, with men tending to experience more extensive and defined areas, such as a receding hairline and/or thinning crown, whereas women tend to develop severe hair thinning diffusely at their vertex and temporal regions but rarely go bald as a result.
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune disorder whereby sudden hair loss is triggered and the body mistakenly attacks its own hair follicles. This can lead to anything from patchy bald spots on the scalp only, to complete baldness from head to toe, depending on the severity of the phenotype experienced.
Pattern hair loss more distressing than previously thought
The An Bras Dermatol, the medical journal of the Brazilian Society of Dermatology published the findings from a 2018 Turkish study entitled “Comparison of quality of life in patients with androgenetic alopecia and alopecia areata”.
It was pursued because, although hair loss can often be viewed as a ‘cosmetic issue’, there are often significant accompanying psychological symptoms. As the researchers note, these can involve “lower personal attractiveness, negative self-esteem, fear of growing old, and negative repercussions on social life”.
The research involved 82 patients with androgenetic alopecia (AGA) – 30 with Male Pattern Baldness and 52 with Female Pattern Hair Loss – and 56 Alopecia Areata (AA) patients (25 women, 31 men). The extent of each participant’s hairloss was measured according to the relevant scale; pattern hair loss in men was charted using the Norwood-Hamilton scale, and the Ludwig scale for women, whilst the Severity of Alopecia tool (SALT) was used for those with Alopecia Areata.
Each individual was evaluated using the Hairdex scale and a Turkish quality of life tool (TQL), which is essentially a condition-specific questionnaire filled out by the participants. It was noted that the ‘validity and reliability’ of the Hairdex index has not yet been established in Turkey.
This data was then compared based on a number of criteria including age, gender, employment status, education and the severity of hair loss. For women only, whether they wore headscarves or not was also taken into consideration.
After assessing the results, findings showed that, although Alopecia Areata negatively impacted the quality of life of those affected, it was genetic hair loss – particularly in women – which proved to have the most significant effect in this regard.
“AGA patients are affected from the disorder more than previously thought. Dermatologists should thus be aware of this distressing condition, recognizing the increasing need for improvement in patients’ quality of life. Male patients can cope with the disease over time. Alopecia has an impact on QoL regardless of educational level and may affect unemployed AA patients to a higher degree. Disease severity causes more anxiety in women, independently of whether they wear headscarves,” concluded the study authors.
Options for addressing hair loss
Feeling alone in their struggle is a common sentiment among both men and women with hair loss, though this is certainly not the case. Whilst Female Pattern Hair Loss and Alopecia Areata may be less spoken about than Male Pattern Baldness, all these conditions affect a number of people worldwide. Furthermore, support is available in each instance too.
There are clinically-proven genetic hair loss treatments available, and whilst the topical medication, high strength minoxidil, has only been MHRA licensed and FDA approved for male and female pattern baldness, it is understood to have a wider scope of application and has been seen to produce hair growth results as an Alopecia Areata treatment. A hair loss specialist will be able to make appropriate recommendations for suitable options following a diagnostic consultation.
For those whose shedding cannot be treated, usually because the hair follicles have deteriorated to far in cases of Male Pattern Hair Loss, or in the severe iterations of Alopecia Areata – Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis – peer support and even professional counselling may be helpful. This can often be arranged via a GP or recommendations made via a dedicated hair loss charity.
The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.