Hair Loss for Women

Hair Loss For Women

Hair loss for women, also known as female pattern hair loss (FPHL) or female alopecia, can be an embarrassing health issue for women.

There can be a significant psychosocial impact on women affected by hair loss.  FPHL can have adverse effect on quality of life.

Since preventing and stopping hair loss is more effective than trying to create regrowth of hair, early diagnosis, intervention and treatment is very important.

Female pattern hair loss is the term used for hair loss for women when there is an androgenic cause to the hair loss.  FPLH is the term used for what was previously referred to as androgenetic female alopecia.

FPHL is definitely the most common form of hair loss for women.  This type of hair loss is identified by its pattern of diffuse alopecia.  This means that there is a thinning of the hair all over the scalp.  There does tend to be a greater level of hair thinning and hair loss on the top of the scalp.

Female Pattern Hair Loss Androgenetic Female Alopecia

It is the gradual process called the miniaturization of hair follicles that is the distinguishing feature of FPHL.  This process can begin as early as adolescence.

During this process androgens, in particular dihydrotestosterone, cause hair follicles to shrink and produce thin, fragile hairs.

Eventually, if not halted, the process leads to the number of hairs on the scalp beginning to decline.

Let’s explain the areas of the scalp so we can better understand the “pattern” of female pattern baldness.

Frontal – the area on the top of the head directly above the forehead and in front of the ears.

Parietal – the strip on top of the head between the ears, it falls between the frontal area and the vertex

Vertex – this is the crown of the head, the top back portion of the scalp.

Temporal – the area around the ears

Occipital – the very back of the head

Now that we know the areas of the head we can explain the patterns.

There are three main patterns seen with FPHL:

  1. The thinning of hair in the parietal and vertex areas on top of the head.
  2. The thinning of the top of the temporal regions and the frontal region in a Christmas tree like pattern.
  3. The typical pattern that is usually seen in male pattern baldness with a deep receding of the frontal and temporal areas along with vertex balding.  This pattern is unusual to see in women but is possible.

Due to the involvement of dihydrotestosterone in the progression of hair loss for women it is a major target for trying to stop FPHL.

Oral systemic agents used to block the formation of dihydrotestosterone or to block the effects of dihydrotestosterone include finasteride, dutasteride, cyproterone acetate and spironolactone.

Topical agents such as minoxidil or Rogaine are also used.

To learn about other embarrassing health issues please visit our Conditions page.