Is your part widening? Have you noticed that your ponytail is thinner these days? You may have female pattern hair loss (FPHL), a condition that affects millions of women. FPHL is actually the most-common cause of hair loss in women.
For most women, FPHL begins in midlife, when a woman is in her 40s, 50s, or 60s. It can begin earlier for some women.
FPHL is a progressive condition. This means women tend to continue losing hair. Women, however, do not lose all of their hair, as do some men. Instead, your part often gets wider. Hair near your temples may recede. Without treatment, some women eventually develop widespread thinning.
Treatment can prevent hair loss from worsening and help women regrow their hair. Treatment delivers the best results when started at the first sign of hair loss.
How can I tell if I have female pattern hair loss?
It’s best to make an appointment to see a healthcare provider. Other causes of hair loss can look like FPHL, so it’s important to rule out these causes.
What causes female pattern hair loss?
It’s hereditary. You inherit the genes from your mother, father, or both. Because FPHL is more common after menopause, hormones may also play a role.
How do providers treat female pattern hair loss?
To give women optimal results, providers may use more than one hair-loss treatment.
For FPHL, treatment options include:
Hair grows slowly, so it takes time to see results. You’ll need to use minoxidil continuously for about 1 year before you know how well it will work for you. If this medication works for you, you’ll need to use it every day to continue getting results. When you stop, the hairs that grew because of minoxidil will fall out within 3 to 4 months, and your hair loss can continue.
Some prescription medications have proven effective in helping women with FPHL grow hair and prevent FPHL from worsening. To date, these medications have received FDA approval to treat other conditions, but not FPHL. Doctors often prescribe FDA-approved medications to treat medical conditions other than those for which the drug was approved.
A provider may prescribe one of the following medications to treat FPHL. Each of these medications is a pill.
This medication is a diuretic, which has been prescribed for decades to treat hair loss. It is a common treatment for FPHL because it can help restore hair growth and prevent hair loss from worsening.
Before taking spironolactone, be sure to tell your provider about your medical conditions, including kidney and adrenal gland problems. Also, be sure that your provider knows all the medications and supplements you take.
Your provider may prescribe other medications to treat FPHL:
finasteride (fi-NAS-ter-ide), flutamide (flu-TA-mide), or dutasteride (doo-TAS-ter-ide).
With any medication, side effects are possible. Ask your provider about possible side effects that you might experience while taking one of these medications.
When will I see results? If your provider prescribes one of these medications, you’ll need to take it for 6 to 12 months before you’ll know if it works for you. No hair growth within 12 months means the medication won’t work for you.
Like minoxidil, once you stop taking a prescription medication, you lose the hair that grew. This happens in about 3 to 4 months.
Pregnancy and hair-loss medications: All of these prescription medications may cause birth defects, so none of these is an option for women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
Providers recommend that all pre-menopausal women use birth control while taking one of these prescription medications.
Are there other treatment options for FPHL?
Women want innovative treatments for FPHL. To meet this need, researchers continue to look for new ways to stimulate hair growth and stop hair breakage.
Other treatments that you may find for FPHL include:
Platelet-Rich Plasma Therapy: This therapy uses your own blood. After a blood draw, the blood is placed into a machine that separates the blood into its different components. The platelets, which are a type of blood cell, are treated and injected into your scalp.
It is believed the platelets help stimulate your cells to grow hair.
Supplements: Many supplements, including biotin and folic acid, are said to help grow and thicken hair.
In studying these different supplements, the findings have been mixed. In most studies, the supplements had no effect on hair growth and thickness.
In one study, however, 120 healthy women had thicker hair and less hair loss after taking specific omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 fatty acids, and antioxidants. They took this combination for 6 months. If these results can be repeated in other studies, we’ll have some evidence to recommend taking these supplements.
In the meantime, you’re sure to find supplements that promise to regrow hair. Before taking any of these, it’s best to check with your dermatologist. Some supplements can interact with medications. Your dermatologist can also tell you whether we have any evidence to show that the supplement helps regrow hair.
Hair loss shampoos: These shampoos tend to do one of the following:
While hair loss shampoos may do the above, they cannot regrow hair or prevent hair loss from worsening.
A provider's diagnosis is best before treating hair loss:
If you think you have FPHL, it’s important to see Christy Collins NP-C at INDULGE for a diagnosis. Women develop hair loss for many reasons. Other common causes of hair loss in women can look a lot like FPHL. Each of these causes requires different treatment. Without the right treatment, hair loss often continues.
Female Pattern Hair Loss, Indulge Luxury Medical Spa, Downtown Blue Ridge, Georgia
$150 consultation required for first visit, lab cost, and recommended treatment.
Supplements and treatments will cost extra.
A prescription may be given to help address medical problems that are contributing to hair loss.
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