A.) Caused by genetic predisposition to the effects of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) on the hair follicle, male patterned baldness (MPB) is the most common type of hair loss for men, and yes, women can have hereditary hair loss as well. However, the pattern in female pattern baldness (FPB) differs from MPB due to the fact that the areas of hair loss and rate at which hair is lost differ. The most significant difference between MPB and FPB is that women rarely progress to total baldness whereas men do frequently. Under the microscope, a biopsy of an MPB sample is indistinguishable from FPB.
Q.) What causes a woman’s hair to fall out?
A.) There are numerous possible causes of women’s hair loss as you can read in our previous blog series on women’s hair loss. By far the most common cause of hair loss in women is female patterned baldness. Other causes of hair loss in women include hormonal changes (e.g. menopause, birth control, and thyroid conditions), childbirth, surgery, chemotherapy, stress, ongoing illness, anemia, rapid weight loss, and certain medications.
Q.) How is the type of women’s hair loss determined?
A.) The first step in determining the cause of hair loss is finding the right doctor. With experience treating conditions of the skin, hair, and nails, a dermatologist is a good place to start. Dedicating his life to researching hair loss and hair restoration, Dr. Edmond Griffin can usually determine the cause of hair loss after a thorough consultation with examination of the scalp. Dermatology Associates of Atlanta’s Dr. Ashley R. Curtis specializes in women’s hair loss specifically, and works with Dr. Griffin to effectively diagnosis and treat female hair loss patients. Many clues become obvious to their experienced eyes. Occasionally, additional tests like a skin biopsy may be needed to make an accurate diagnosis. Part 2 of our women’s hair loss series highlights the components of tests that determine hair loss.
Q.) Can women undergo hair restoration surgery?
A.) As long as there is an adequate donor region from which follicular grafts can be harvested, women can benefit from hair restoration surgery. Women experiencing androgenetic alopecia or hair loss caused by scars from accidents, burns or cosmetic procedures often make good candidates for hair transplant surgery as long as they have an ample donor region.
Q.) Is there any way to prevent women’s hair loss?
A.) Yes, although there are many hair loss medications on the market that promise to prevent further loss and regrow hair, oral Propecia® (finasteride) and topical Rogaine® (minoxidil) are the two main proven hair loss prevention medications. Women who are pregnant or are trying to become pregnant should not take or even handle oral Propecia®, but may use topical custom prescriptions. In Dr. Griffin’s experience, 80-90% of those patients who combine both topical and oral medications see a halt in hair loss with 25% showing substantial hair regrowth. Your hair loss specialist my also suggest certain shampoos, vitamins, or the use of anti-androgens such as Flutamide, Spironalactone, estrogens or birth control pills to prevent further loss.