First Signs of Hair Thinning in Women

a woman showing bald spots on her head | First Signs of Hair Thinning in Women

Hair Thinning in Women

It is very normal for women to shed some hair daily, but when bald patches or thinning of hair happens, it may be due to female pattern baldness.

Shedding around 50 to 100 hairs each day is considered normal, as new hair growth will usually replace these shedded hairs. If someone has female pattern baldness, however, the lost hair is not regrown.

Female pattern baldness is a type of hair loss that impacts women. The medical name given for this condition is androgenetic alopecia.

Although as you know both men and women may get hair loss, it is not as widespread in women as in men and seems very different.

Men who suffer from hair loss tend to develop a receding hairline and bald spots. Women with female pattern baldness usually get general hair thinning, which impacts the volume of their hair.

In women, the first signs of female pattern baldness may be a broader partition or that the hair does not feel as thick as it usually does. Although the scalp may be visible, the hairline usually does not diminish.

The frequency of hair loss is less in women as compared to men, but it still occurs often. Female pattern baldness increases as you age, and less than 50 per cent of women have a full head of hair for their entire life.

Female pattern baldness and the genetic link

Genetics seems to be a very vital factor in developing female pattern baldness, which signifies it runs in families. So women can inherit the gene for pattern baldness from either parent.

Female pattern baldness seems to be more common as women age and reach midlife, although it can begin earlier as well.

It usually develops after menopause, so hormonal changes may also be a contributing factor.

Other causes of hair loss:

Autoimmune disease: Alopecia areata is a rare autoimmune disorder that makes the immune system attack the hair follicles causing hair loss.

Medication: Certain medications, like those used to treat cancer, can lead to hair loss as a side effect. However, hair usually regrows back once a person has stopped taking those medications.

Illness: Hair loss can also occur after a significant illness, like severe infection, high fever, or surgery.

Traction alopecia: This hair loss occurs when a person frequently wears hairstyles that pull the hair very tightly.

Signs of hair loss

Hair loss can happen in various ways depending on the cause. 

Certain signs include:

Overall thinning. Gradual thinning on the top of the head is a very common type of hair loss. It can affect both men and women. Men tend to see a receding hairline, while women notice that their partition broadens.

Bald spots. They may be patchy or circular. They may resemble coins in size and are usually seen on the scalp. Your skin may also feel itchy or painful immediately before the excess hair falls out.

Handfuls of hair. You may experience a very sudden hair loss, particularly after physical or emotional trauma. The hair may come out very easily while you’re washing or combing it, causing overall thinning.

Full loss. In some situations, particularly with medical treatments like chemotherapy, you may notice sudden hair loss all over your body at once.

4 Types of alopecia (hair loss)

Androgenetic alopecia is female-pattern baldness or hair loss caused due to genetics, or family history. It’s one of the leading causes of hair loss in women and generally starts between the ages of 12 to 40 years. Men notice balding as a receding hairline and specific bald spots, while women’s hair loss appears more as overall thinning.

Alopecia areata is a patchy hair loss that occurs suddenly on the head or body. It normally begins with one or more round bald patches.

Cicatricial alopecia is a condition that causes irreversible hair loss through scarring. Hair falls out from the follicle and is replaced with scar tissue.

Traumatic alopecia causes hair to fall out due to various hairstyling practices. The hair shaft can break after using hot combs, straighteners, blow dryers, or some chemicals to dye or straighten hair.

Hair regrowth Treatment

The kind of treatment recommended will depend on the condition of the hair loss, in addition to other factors.

Treatment for female pattern baldness can help in preventing future hair loss and may cause regrowth of some hair. Long-term treatment is needed to prevent hair loss from recurring in most cases.

Treatment options include:

  • Minoxidil
  • Oral medication
  • Hair transplant
  • Laser treatment

Prevention

As female pattern baldness may be genetic, it might be possible that it is not always preventable. However, there are certain steps a woman can take to keep their hair as healthy as possible to prevent damage.

Some hair care tips:

  • Limit treatments that can cause hair damage, like perming, straightening, and hair extensions.
  • Eat a diet rich in protein, essential vitamins and minerals, and iron.
  • Protect your hair from sun damage by wearing a hat or scarf before stepping out.
  • Avoid brushing your hair when it is wet and fragile. 

Take Away

Female pattern baldness can be very stressful and have a huge impact on a person’s self-confidence and self-image. Women who experience excessive hair loss should consult their doctor or dermatologist, who can help them determine the cause and best treatment option for it.

Early diagnosis can help a person get an early treatment plan that prevents further hair loss. The effectiveness of the treatment may vary depending on the treatment selected and the amount of hair loss that happened.