Hair loss in women can be related to genetics, hormones and age. Androgenetic alopecia, also known as female pattern hair loss, is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Hair loss in women may be caused by a serious medical condition that needs proper attention and treatment as early as possible. The hair loss patterns in women usually differ from those in men. Find out more about hair loss in women.
Seborrheic dermatitis is a condition where you have itchiness in the eyebrows.. like serious, serious itchiness. First of all, if you think you have this: see a derm, stat. You need a derm to confirm (can I trademark that saying?), and you definitely need a derm for the prescription. A dermatologist will tell you to treat the seborrheic dermatitis with a combination of desonide cream and ketoconazole cream twice daily for one week. Or, they may tell you to use a ketoconazole shampoo to control the problem.
Yes. If you wear pigtails or cornrows or use tight hair rollers, the pull on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia (say: al-oh-pee-sha). If the pulling is stopped before scarring of the scalp develops, your hair will grow back normally. However, scarring can cause permanent hair loss. Hot oil hair treatments or chemicals used in permanents (also called “perms”) may cause inflammation (swelling) of the hair follicle, which can result in scarring and hair loss.
There is also a different in the form of 5AR enzyme (5 alpha reductase) found on the facial hair follicles vs. the scalp hair follicles. This enzyme converts testosterone into that more problematic DHT. Type I DHT is found in sebaceous glands on the face and genital area whereas Type II is found in hair follicles of the scalp. Type II DHT is typically more of a problem in men, but Type II is increased in disorders with high testosterone like PCOS.
There is some evidence of a link between baldness and prostate cancer and other diseases. Harvard Medical School reports that men with vertex baldness have 1.5 times more of a risk of developing prostate cancer than men without bald spots. The risk of coronary artery disease is also more than 23 percent higher in men with vertex bald spots. Investigations are ongoing as to whether there is a link between DHT levels and metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and other health conditions.
You may have thought you were one up on men in the biological war but not only testosterone-strong males experience hair loss. In fact (and unfairly), up to 50% of women will experience some form of hair loss in their lifetime. You might have heard that pregnancy, the contraceptive pill and menopause are possible causes of hair loss, but are they really? Well, yes and no. An understanding of why female hair loss happens and what role estrogen plays in hair growth may help to make this answer clearer.
SOURCES: George Cotsarelis, MD, director, Hair and Scalp Clinic, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Andrew Kaufman, MD, assistant professor, department of dermatology, University of California, Los Angeles; medical director, Center for Dermatology Care, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Tom Barrows, PhD, director of product development, Aderans Research Institute Inc., Atlanta. Cotsarelis, G. and Millar, S.E. Trends in Molecular Medicine, July 2001; vol 7: pp 293-301. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery web site. American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery web site. American Hair Loss Council web site. Springer, K. American Family Physician, July 1, 2003; vol 68: pp 93-102. Hair Loss Help web site, "Interview with Dr. Ken Washenik from Bosley." Fuchs, E. Developmental Cell, July 2001: vol 1: pp 13-25.
Hormones are cyclical. Testosterone levels in some men drop by 10% each decade after age 30. Women's hormone levels decline as menopause approaches and drop sharply during menopause and beyond. The cyclic nature of both our hair and hormones is one reason hair loss can increase in the short term even when you are having a long-term slowdown of hair loss (and a long-term increase in hair growth) while on a treatment that controls hair loss.
Hair loss in women isn't always as straightforward as it is in most men. In men, about 95 percent of all cases are caused by male pattern baldness. In women, however, hair loss can be triggered by a multitude of conditions and circumstances. During the consultation, Dr. Yaker utilizes specialized hair and scalp scanning technology to assess the distribution of hair loss, hair thickness, and how much hair is present in a particular area. It is important to note, that for women, a proper diagnosis begins with a process of elimination. More than one cause for the hair loss may coexist and need to be recognized or excluded. A comprehensive medical history, which includes a list of all medications, history of hair loss, a thorough scalp exam, a discussion of medical and skin disorders, and a complete nutritional evaluation will be needed. Blood work analysis may be required, and a scalp biopsy may also be performed if the cause of hair loss is uncertain or there is a concern for scarring alopecia.
Taking estrogen supplements as part of a hormone replacement therapy regime has its effects on your hair as well. Women can treat a type of hair loss called androgenic alopecia, associated with low estrogen and progesterone, by replacing these hormones artificially. Dosages of synthetic estrogen should be monitored regularly -- abnormal hair growth is a possible side effect of one kind of hormone replacement therapy, called esterified estrogens.
MICHAEL REED, MD: Over-the-counter minoxidil, which is the brand Rogaine, is FDA approved. It's been shown to be effective in scientific studies. Propecia is the new drug on the block, and that probably is more effective. It's a pill that you take once a day, and that has been shown to slow down hair loss and grow hair in a significant number of individuals. Most of the other preparations that are heavily advertised or marketed are not proven to be effective.