Baldness in women which is also known as female pattern alopecia, like men is genetically inherited either from the maternal side or the paternal one. Female alopecia occurs mostly in a diffused pattern, causing hair loss over the entire region of the scalp. Women usually don’t face a patterned distribution of hair loss in which thinning of hairs occurs both on the frontal and top region of the scalp with lesser hair loss occurring on the sides and rear of the scalp.
Whatever type of hair loss women face, whether it’s diffuse or patterned, there are different treatments for both the conditions. Women who face diffuse hair loss can be best treated medically, while women who face patterned hair loss can opt for hair transplantation procedure.
Studies have revealed that hair loss in women is caused due to the actions of two enzymes namely, aromatase (found mostly in women) and 5-a reductase (found in both men and women). Though diffuse hair loss in women is primarily inherited, yet it may also occur due to some other prevailing medical conditions or treatments being taken by the patient. However, it’s really essential that a thorough medical evaluation is conducted to find the root cause of hair loss.
Let’s examine how genetic hair loss occurs in women and conditions and drugs that usually causes diffuse hair loss amongst them.
Pretty much like men female genetic hair loss is concerned with genes, hormones and age. But understanding genetics that cause hair loss is even tougher in women. Apart from possessing 5-a reductase, testosterone, and dihydrotestosterone(DHT) women also possess the enzyme aromatase and female hormones estrone and estradiol that are also responsible for causing hair loss in women.
Like men, women also possess 5-a reductase enzyme which reacts with testosterone to produce DHT, which leads to the miniaturization of hair amongst them. But the reason they don’t go completely bald is primarily because of the fact that they possess 5-a reductase only in half quantity as compared to men. Furthermore the enzyme aromatase present in women known to form the female hormones, estrone and estradiol, subsides the effect of DHT. They possess much more aromatase than men along the frontal hairline due to which do not lose hair extensively in that region. It also explains the reason why women don’t benefit much from finasteride (Propecia), which is primarily known to block the formation of DHT amongst men.
Medical Conditions Leading to Diffuse Hair Loss in Women
Women’s hairs are sensitive to certain systemic medical conditions which often cause diffuse hair loss in women. They are:
- Conditions related to child birth and gynecology.
- Anemia (iron deficiency)
- Thyroid disease
- Connective tissue diseases
- Conditions related to nutrition which can include unhealthy diets, bulimia, protein/calorie deficiency, etc.
- Stress that occurs due to surgical procedures that are conducted or anesthesia
Drugs That Can Cause Diffuse Hair Loss in Women
There are many drugs in the market that can cause ‘telogen effluvium’, a condition in which the hair follicle enters the resting stage for several months and then suddenly sheds itself. But this condition is reversible if the medication being taken is stopped. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy also cause a type of diffuse hair loss known as ‘anagen effluvium’ in which an individual rapidly loses hair. It’s also possible to prevent hair loss condition if the therapy is stopped; just that it’s pretty tough to restore the hairs’ initial thickness.
Localized Hair Loss
There are many dermatologic conditions that are known to cause localized hair loss amongst women. It can be diagnosed by an experienced dermatologist by conducting a scalp biopsy. It can be of two types: Scarring and Non Scarring.
It may be caused due to Discoid Lupus, Lichen Planus, thermal burns, local radiation therapy, face-lift surgeries and other infections. These alopecias can be treated effectively with hair transplantation.
Alopecia Areata is a genetic disease in which an individual abruptly faces round patches of hair loss though the skin underneath seems perfectly fine.
Localized hair loss may also occur due to constant pulling of hairs which may be caused due to braiding or tight clips. It may lead to their (hair) thinning in the process. It’s possible to reverse the situation if the hairs are let loose. It’s essential that the tugging impact gets reduced so that the hair can recover from injury.
Though there are other dominant factors which may cause hair loss, yet aging also plays a significant role in decreasing the volume of hair on an individual’s scalp. Senile alopecia is described as that condition in which an individual gradually loses hair and their thickness due to aging and is in no way connected to genetic balding. So, it’s definite that individuals will lose hair gradually due to aging but there’s really no certainty at what point this process may begin in an individual’s life since everybody’s genetic makeup varies radically.