Classification of Female Pattern Baldness
Female pattern baldness involves a typical pattern of hair loss in women, due to hormones, aging, and genes.
Causes, incidence and risk factors
A hair grows from its follicle at an average rate of about 1/2 inch per month. Each hair grows for 2 to 6 years, then rests, and then falls out. A new hair soon begins growing in its place.
Baldness occurs when hair falls out and normal new hair does not grow in its place. The reason for female pattern baldness is not well understood, but it may be related to:
- Changes in the levels of androgens (male hormones). For example, after reaching menopause, many women find that the hair on their head is thinner, while the hair on their face is coarser.
- Family history of male or female pattern baldness
Hair loss can occur in women for reasons other than female pattern baldness, including the following:
- Breaking of hair (from treatments and twisting or pulling of hair, or hair shaft abnormalities that are present from birth)
- Certain skin diseases that lead to scarring of the hair follicles
- Certain autoimmune diseases
- Hormone problems, such as too much testosterone, or too much or too little thyroid hormone
- Too little iron
- Too little vitamin B (biotin) or other vitamin deficiency
- Medications such as chemotherapy and beta blockers
- Patchy hair loss(alopecia areata)
- Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection
- Temporary shedding of hair after a major illness, surgery, or pregnancy
Hair thinning is different from that of male pattern baldness. In female pattern baldness:
- Hair thins mainly on the top and crown of the scalp. It usually starts with a widening through the center hair part.
- The front hairline remains
- The hair loss rarely progresses to total or near total baldness, as it may in men
Itching or skin sores on the scalp are generally NOT seen.
Signs and Tests
Female pattern baldness is usually diagnosed based on:
- Ruling out other causes of hair loss
- The appearance and pattern of hair loss
- Your medical history
The doctor will examine you for other signs of too much male hormone (androgen), such as:
- Abnormal new hair growth, such as on the face or between the belly button and pubic area.
- Changes in menstrual periods and enlargement of the clitoris
- New acne
A skin biopsy or other procedures or blood tests may be used to diagnose skin disorders that cause hair loss.
Looking at the hair under a microscope may be done to check for arsenic or lead. Looking at the hair this way does not accurately diagnose nutritional problems
Hair weaving, hairpieces, or a change in hairstyle may disguise hair loss and improve your appearance. This is often the least expensive and safest way to deal with female pattern baldness.