One small but important thing that frequently crops up when clients are speaking to the hair loss experts at Belgravia concerns a subtle difference between the male and female versions of genetic thinning. Why, some people wonder, is the condition in women always referred to as female pattern hair loss and not female pattern baldness?
The key to understanding the answer requires a basic knowledge of how, exactly, the two conditions manifest themselves – for while each may have a genetic trait that lies behind their thinning, the pattern of the shedding is markedly different.
The reason both men and women with androgenetic alopecia experience gradually thinning hair is due to an inherited sensitivity to the testosterone by-product, DHT. This causes the affected follicles, located around the top of the head, to become increasingly weak, producing finer and finer hair.
Pattern of shedding is different
In men, male pattern baldness usually begins with thinning hair in specific areas. Typically these are around the crown, along the top of the head and/or a receding hairline. Men’s hair loss may involve one, two or all three of these patterns, and they may join up to form larger bald patches. A measuring tool known as The Norwood Scale provides a guide to “how far gone” a man’s hairloss is.
When women have female pattern hair loss, the pattern of the shedding is completely different. While it is still located around the top of the head, it affects the vertex more diffusely, as opposed to being confined to defined areas. While thinning can certainly be significant, the chances of it forming noticeable bald areas are much less likely than with men. Instead, hair tends to look less voluminous than it once did, and the severity of the loss is recorded on something called the Ludwig Scale, which can be seen here.
The important distinction between male pattern baldness and female pattern hair loss is that, whilst men may develop absolute baldness – when the damaged follicles can no longer function so hair growth stops, and the skin takes on a smooth, shiny appearance – this is rare in women. Women’s hair loss may become advanced, but true baldness – as men experience it – is highly unlikely.
Some intuitively know
The warning signs for men and women with genetic hair loss are slightly different. For men, the two “danger zones” are the crown and the hairline, which are usually where evidence of thinning hair can signal the start of male pattern hairloss – although less eagle-eyed or image-conscious individuals may take many months or even years to notice the gradual changes.
One of the first signs of hair loss in women occurs at the parting; this may start to appear wider than usual, with more scalp becoming visible. Another frequently seen symptom is hair thinning at the temples, which can be especially noticeable when the hair is worn up or pushed back off the face. This does not cause a receding hairline in the same way that men often experience it, rather it causes thinning hair on one or both sides but without baldness developing.
Another of the key clues is a feeling that the hair is not as thick as usual – for instance when putting the hair into a ponytail, it may seem less dense. Although this may make it difficult for any obvious changes to be observed, many women intuitively know when something is different – and this would be a good time to see a hair loss expert to ascertain exactly what is going on.
What sometimes surprises women is that female pattern hair loss has the same cause as male pattern baldness: an inherited sensitivity to the testosterone-byproduct dihydrotestosterone (DHT). While men’s hair loss treatment for makes use of a clinically-proven drug named finasteride 1mg to block its production, this is not a suitable option for women.
However, both men and women are able to use the MHRA licensed and FDA-approved minoxidil – a dose-dependent drug which is applied topically to the scalp where needed to promote hair growth. Various formulations of high strength minoxidil are available for men and women and can form part of a targeted treatment course aimed at stopping shedding and encouraging regrowth.
Further help is available from additional hair growth supporting products, which bring additional armaments to the fight against thinning hair. One of which – Hair Vitalics for Women – is a food supplement developed exclusively for The Belgravia Centre by our hair experts. In addition to key nutrients including biotin, zinc and selenium for the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth, these highly-targeted one-a-day tablets feature elements, such as the soy isoflavones genistein and daidzen, which are unlikely to feature in a normal diet. Whilst not intended to replace a balanced diet or hair loss treatment, this convenient product can help to give the hair a boost from the inside out.
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.