Some degree of hair loss is healthy and unnoticeable — people lose around 50 to 100 hairs a day on average. In people assigned female at birth (AFAB), noticeable hair loss is pretty common, with around one third experiencing it at some point. There can be a subtle thinning all over or a bare patch where the scalp can be seen, it can look different to the typical “baldness” you might expect.
What causes it?
- A traumatic or stressful experience
- Childbirth (post partem shedding)
- Extreme weight loss
- Hormone changes such as peri/menopause
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Auto-immune conditions
- Hereditary hair loss
- Tight hairstyles like ponytails or braids, can lead to hair loss as a result of putting pressure on roots
- Covid (aka “the post Covid shed”
What does female pattern baldness look like?
In female pattern baldness, the hair’s growing phase slows down. It also takes longer for new hair to begin growing. Hair follicles shrink, leading the hair that does grow to be thinner and finer. This can result in hair that easily breaks. People with this condition also tend to shed more hairs than the average person, though complete baldness is less likely.
In male pattern baldness, hair loss starts in the front of the head and recedes to the back until the person goes bald. But female pattern baldness starts at the part line, sometimes appearing all over the head. Hair at the temples may also recede.
Doctors divide the condition into three types:
- Type I is a small amount of thinning that starts around the part.
- Type II involves widening of the part and increased thinning around it.
- Type III is thinning throughout, with a see-through area at the top of the scalp.
Early diagnosis is encouraged, as it can enable you to start a treatment plan and potentially minimize future hair loss. Your treatment plan will likely consist of:
- blood work investigations to assess hormones such as thyroid or estrogen or excess testosterone
- supplements to correct deficiencies for nutrients such as vitamin D, iron, B vitamins
- Collagen with peptides for healthy hair
- follicle strengthening shampoo
- Minoxidil(Rogaine): It’s available in 2% or 5% formulas. The 5% formula was found to be superior. Apply minoxidil to your scalp every day. Though it won’t fully restore the hair you’ve lost, it can grow back a significant amount of hair and give an overall thicker appearance. It can take around 6 to 12 months to see results. And you’ll need to keep using minoxidil to maintain the effect, or it’ll stop working. If this happens, your hair may return to its previous appearance. The following side effects are possible: redness, dryness, itching, hair growth on areas where you didn’t want it such as your cheeks and further hair loss while waiting for it to work.
- Finasteride (Propecia): Is FDA approved to treat male pattern hair loss. It’s not approved for female pattern hair loss, but some doctors do recommend it. Studies are mixed about the effectiveness of this drug, but some research shows that they do help regrow hair in female pattern baldness. Side effects can include: headaches, hot flashes, and decreased sex drive, especially during the first year of use. People also should avoid becoming pregnant, because it can increase the risk for birth defects.
- Spironolactone (Aldactone): Is a diuretic, which means it removes excess fluid from the body. It also blocks androgen production and therefore may help regrow hair that’s been lost as a result of female pattern baldness. This medication can cause a number of side effects, including: electrolyte imbalances, fatigue, spotting between periods, irregular menstruation and tender breasts. You may need to have regular blood pressure and electrolyte tests while you take it. If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, you shouldn’t use this medication due to the risk of birth defects.
Other treatment options:
1) Platelet-rich plasma therapy may also be beneficial. This involves drawing your blood, spinning it down, then injecting your own platelets back into your scalp to stimulate hair growth. Though promising, more studies need to be done
2) Red light/light therapy/low intensity laser therapy
You can help prevent female pattern baldness with the following hair care tips: