Female pattern baldness, also known as alopecia in women, is a condition in which a woman’s hair begins to fall out in larger amounts than normal. The condition can range from thinned areas of hair to completely bald patches. When hair loss occurs in women, it tends to be focused on the hair near the crown and sides of the head rather than on the back of the scalp like typical men’s baldness.
There is no definitive cause of female pattern baldness, although some factors are thought to increase the likelihood of a woman having the condition. One possible factor that may result in hair loss in women is genetics. A woman who has other female relatives who have experienced hair loss may be more likely to experience it as well. Hormone levels may also contribute to hair loss in women, which could be a possible reason why menopausal women are more likely to suffer from the condition.
Female pattern baldness tends to progress slowly and does not usually have drastic symptoms. A woman may start to notice more hair shedding than she normally does, particularly in hairbrushes or combs. In women without the condition, even if hair sheds profusely, it will eventually grow back. If female pattern baldness is present, the hair shedding will increase and little to no hair will grow back in its place. The hair loss will usually be most noticeable around the top and sides of the face.
Although there is no proven cure for female pattern baldness, medication may be helpful for new hair growth in some women. Minoxidil is a topical medication that is applied directly onto the scalp to stimulate hair follicles. It is the only hair growth medication that is safe for women. Other medications that treat male pattern baldness can be dangerous to women, particularly in they are pregnant, because they may cause birth defects. If minoxidil is not effective, a woman may choose to get hair physically transplanted and attached to the scalp or wear hairpieces to reduce any problems caused by low self-confidence.
Female pattern baldness cannot be prevented, but some measures may be able to reduce the progression of the hair loss and strengthen remaining hair follicles. Consuming a healthy diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help ensure the body has proper nutrition, which may be able to promote hair growth. Reducing the amount of stress put on hair, such as by limiting heat styling tools or chemical products, may also help protect remaining hair.