Everything you need to know about female baldness: why are women losing hair?

My hair line is receding – and I know I’m not the only one – but the reasons may not be the same from one person to the next. For example, I know that mine is due to wearing my hair up in a tight bun every morning when I workout. My husband’s hair loss is undoubtedly due to the pressures of working 300 hours a month. Knowing the possible causes are key for laying out an action plan – and there are many more options than you probably think!

Hair loss for men vs. women – is there a difference? 

Yes! “Men usually suffer from genetic hair loss and can start at even earlier ages,” says RealSelf Contributor Dr. Michele Green. “Vitamin deficiencies and anemias can also cause hair loss whereas women can have hormonal as well as genetic reasons for losing hair – sometimes oral contraceptives, Spironolactone, or Propecia can be quite effective in growing back hair.”

It’s important to note, however, that lifestyle can effect hair loss. “Hair naturally goes through cycles of  growth, rest, and release/fall , with the growth cycle normally lasting four to seven years,” explains Dr. Dominic Burg, the Chairman of the Hair Biology Institute. Aside from  hormones and genetics, he says, changes in diet, stress, and age can upset the hair cycle process and this leads to hair cycle shortening. “The growth phase becomes very short, the follicles start to shrink and hairs become thinner and less substantial – after an extended period of hair cycle dysfunction, hair follicles may die.”

In tandem with that, here are some things Dr. Burg says contribute to hair loss that you might not even realize. 

  • Wearing hair in tight ponytails or braids can lead to hair loss via traction alopecia.  This manifests over time in elevated hair line.
  • Harsh chemical treatments and too much heat can also lead to follicle damage and hair cycle dysfunction.
  • Using the wrong types of brushes and combs can damage roots and can also exacerbate the problem for those with hair cycle dysfunction and loose follicles.
  • Extreme or yo-yo dieting can lead to hair loss.   Good nutrition from a balanced diet is key to growing long,  strong healthy hair.
  • High stress can lead to hair cycle dysfunction.  It is important that individuals take time to relax, exercise and reduce stress levels.

Are there any in-office treatments for hair loss?

Dr. Green says the most popular hair growth procedure in his New York office is PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma injections). “I take the patient’s blood and spin it down and glean the richest parts that have the growth factors and re-inject them into the scalp and cause new hair growth and the thickening of current hair.  It is extremely popular for both men and women.”

RealSelf Contributor Dr. Sejal Shah adds that low level laser therapy (LLLT) is also an option. “It utilizes diodes that emit red light radiation and is available as home devices or in-office treatments.  LLLT is thought to work by increasing blood flow and releasing energy ultimately stimulating metabolic processes needed for hair growth.  I like this treatment because it is very safe and well-tolerated.  There studies supporting its use and in my experience I have seen it work for some of my patients, but like everything it does not work on everyone.”
What about over-the-counter products?

Dr. Burg singles out évolis, which he says actively tackles hair cycle dysfunction by helping hair stay in the growth phase for longer.  “It does this by blocking a protein called FGF5.  In the hair cycle, FGF5 is the reason hair stops growing and starts resting, so by blocking FGF5 hair stays growing for longer hand the hair cycle is restored to its natural length.” évolis makes a number of haircare products including shampoo and conditioner.

When it comes to supplements, Biotin may not be as helpful as you think!

As far as supplements Dr. Shah recommends Viviscal. “This dietary supplement contains nutrients that nourishes the hair follicle and prolongs the growth phase of the hair.  There are a number of other nutrients that are helpful if the individual is deficient, such as iron, vitamin D, and zinc.  I find Biotin is helpful for strengthening hair, so for example if you are experiencing a lot of breakage, but doesn’t necessarily promote new hair growth.”

Scalp Scrubs/Exfoliants are important.

“Scrubs/exfoliants work by removing buildup from products, oils, dead skin cells, and other debris on the scalp,” says Dr. Shah. “This is important, especially if you have a very oily scalp or use a lot of styling products, to maintain a healthy scalp and improve manageability of the hair.”

Dr. Shah also recommends Rogaine (topical Minoxidil), especially the five percent version or trying Lasercap, an at home laser that if used three times a week also helps to maintain hair growth.

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