Androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss for both, men and women. For women androgenetic alopecia is also known as female pattern hair loss, and the hair loss takes place at the front, and top area of the scalp. Female pattern hair loss can take place in the late twenties through the early forties for women. It can also occur during the time of menopause, or after a hysterectomy in women who are genetically predisposed. Please note that androgenetic alopecia can take place even though both of your parents have healthy hair, and no hair loss.
How is the hair affected by androgenetic alopecia?
With androgenetic alopecia, the hair’s density decreases on the top, or front of the scalp. Hair density is how thick, or thin a single strand of hair is as it pushes out of the hair follicle. Not only does the hair follicle produce thinner hairs, but your hair in the affected areas grow shorter over time. The shorter hair impacts the bang area of the scalp. The thinning makes the scalp noticeable, or you may notice a wider than usual part when you style your hair. It is rare that a woman will be completely bald because of androgenetic alopecia.
What is the cause of androgenetic alopecia?
Women and men produce the male hormone androgen, and the female hormone estrogen. Estrogens do not have a negative affect on the hair. The problem is with the androgen hormone once it is converted into Dihydrotestoterone, also known as DHT. Dihydrotestoterone is responsible for androgenetic hair loss because it chokes the hair follicle and shortens the anagen hair growth phase of the hair cycle. Dihydrotestoterone turns healthy thick strands of hair, called terminal hairs, into fine, thin hairs, called vellus hair. This process of the hair shrinking is called miniaturization. A large number of hairs prematurely, go into the telogen phase, and sometimes you will notice more shedding.
Other triggers of androgenetic alopecia:
- Free radicals called Reactive Oxygen Species, or ROS are increased by testosterone. Reactive Oxygen Species triggers the production of transforming growth factor B1 (TGFB1), which reduces hair growth. Antioxidants remove free radicals and encourage hair growth.
- Taking, and stopping of certain oral contraceptives.
- Sex hormone imbalance. Blood test need to be carried out by your doctor to see if the adrenal glands, or ovaries are the cause of the imbalance. Once the imbalance is found, it will be corrected through treatment by your doctor.
What are the signs or symptoms of androgenetic alopecia?
A sign is something you, or anyone else can see on your scalp. A symptom is something you can feel. If you go to a dermatologist, or trichologist you need to be very specific about any sensation on your scalp, changes you notice in hair growth, or excessive hair fall.
Here are some things to look out for:
- Increased oily skin.
- Excessive facial hair.
- Sensitive or burning scalp.
- Unusual wide part.
- A progressively noticeable scalp.
- Excessive hair shedding.
Keep in mind, sometimes androgenetic alopecia may take place with telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium, causes excessive hair fall all over the scalp, and is linked to any type of internal disorder. Once the disorder within the body is pinpointed, and treated, the excessive shedding will stop.
What treatments are available for androgenetic alopecia in women?
We can only treat the symptoms of androgenetic alopecia. There is no cure. You want to block Dihydrotestoterone, which will help slow down, the thinning, and help retain the hair you have left. You also need to provide energy to the hair follicle so healthy hair growth is encouraged.
Here are some drug free options to block dihydrotestosterone:
- Dong Quai
- Red Clover
- Black Cohosh
- Saw Palmetto
- Pumpkin Seed Oil
- Green Tea
- Minoxidil 5% can help slow down hair loss, but has side effects such as headaches, and dry itchy scalp.
- Finasteride, also known as Propecia or Proscar is used to block dihydrotestosterone in men. There are studies that show Finasteride being effective in treating androgenetic alopecia in women.
Treating androgenetic alopecia requires a combination of therapies to stabilize the condition. Results vary depending on the level of hair loss. The faster you start a treatment, the greater your chances of stabilizing the hair loss and retaining your hair.
In addition to using a dihydrotestosterone blocker to stop miniaturization (hair follicle shrinkage), you can try low level laser therapy. Low level laser therapy energizes the cells of the hair follicle, which helps promote healthy hair growth. Low level laser therapy by itself will not be enough to encourage hair growth, it has to be used in conjunction with a dihydrotestosterone (DHT) blocker.
Another treatment that can be used in combination with other therapies for androgenetic alopecia is Platelet Rich Plasma Therapy, or PRP. This treatment has to be performed by a dermatologist or another doctor. It involves injecting the scalp with your own blood platelets, because platelets contain growth factors that help repair tissue and can encourage hair growth.
Once you start using a treatment for androgenetic alopecia, and it works, you have to use it for life because androgenetic alopecia is a progressive type of hair loss, that will get worse once you stop using what works. Always give the treatment six months before you determine if it helps the hair loss.
Leave a comment letting us know if you tried and had any success with one of the treatments mentioned in this post for androgenetic alopecia.