Female Pattern, Genetic & Hereditary Hair Loss
What is Female Pattern Hair Loss?
Genetics form the biological framework of who we are, and it makes every one of us unique. But did you know genetics is also the leading cause of women’s hair loss? Genetics account for 50% of hair loss cases. Hereditary Hair Loss, also called Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL), is a condition in which some women have a genetic predisposition to hair loss. FPHL is a form of Alopecia, identified in the medical community as Androgenetic Alopecia. While most women don’t show signs or symptoms until around 40, it can start as early as 12-years-old.
Most sources estimate that 10% of women suffer from hair loss, yet these figures have recently increased to near 20%, as per the American Hair Loss Association. Why are so many women affected by FPHL, and is it a treatable condition? Hair loss is a serious issue that takes an emotional toll. With the right knowledge, resources, and education, you are one step closer to understanding genetic hair loss and discovering solutions to help you fall in love with your hair again.
FEMALE PATTERN HAIR LOSS CAUSES
The link between women’s hair loss and genes exists in the form of a male hormone. For decades, men have been at the forefront of hair loss. However, millions of women suffer from hair loss. And there are notable variances between sexes. For example, men can inherit hair loss from either parent, yet women must inherit it from both parents. If your mother and father suffered from hair loss, you have a higher chance of dealing with it at some point in your life.
It might feel like you’ve got a bad hand, but hair loss is a complex and systematic arrangement woven in the fabric of our DNA. The male sex hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), causes genetic women’s hair loss. DHT falls in a class of hormones called Androgens, and they trigger hair loss in both men and women. When either men or women experience Androgenetic Alopecia, it occurs because there’s a genetic shortage of the Anagen phase, where hair actively grows. Instead, hair follicles remain in the shedding phase longer than usual, and regrowth becomes sparse.
Follicular miniaturization occurs over time and is a process in which the hair follicles shrink, the hair shaft changes, and hair starts to break, shed, and thin. As women near menopause, about 40% will experience FPHL, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
SIGNS & SYMPTOMS OF GENETIC HAIR LOSS
The symptoms of FPHL might not be prevalent immediately. For some women, hair will fall in excess at an alarming rate. For others, it’s a slow process that takes place over a prolonged timeline. Yet the fact remains that hair loss creates physical, emotional, and psychological turbulence. You may not immediately recognize the cause of your hair fall as FHPL because daily shedding is natural. Most people shed about 100-150 hairs every day. Of course, most aren’t able to tally up the total, but if your strands are shedding in excess, this may be the first sign of FPHL.
Genetic hair loss occurs in a very distinct pattern and begins with a noticeable widening of the part. Still, it’s not always evident if your part has widened. If you are unsure, grab a picture of yourself that is at least 3-4 years old. Is your part wider now than it used to be? If so, this is an indication of onset FPHL.
Additional symptoms of FPHL include:
- Hair Thinning
- Excessive hair shedding
- Bald patches
- A widening part, as seen in the Ludwig Classifications System
- Psychological distress
- Impaired social functioning
- Increased stress
Now, this next step is vital: try not to get discouraged. The first reaction to hair loss is often stress, helplessness, and panic. We completely understand, but we are here to help you through this stressful time.
HEREDITARY HAIR LOSS DIAGNOSIS
Hair grows from follicles on the scalp, and the scalp is part of the body’s largest organ: the skin. As such, the best way to diagnose FPHL is to visit take a Genetic Hair Loss Test or a dermatologist. During your visit, your doctor will review your medical and family history, eliminate potential conditions, and conduct a physical exam. Some cases may require a non-invasive scalp biopsy, but it’s uncommon. Some women may show signs of hyperandrogenism (high levels of the androgen hormones), which will require further testing for ovarian or adrenal disorders. Once the consultation is complete, the dermatologist will diagnose the condition and work with you on the best course of treatment.
Medical diagnoses of Female Pattern Hair Loss fall into two categories:
The most common diagnosis and the medical term for genetic hair loss.
Hair Alopecia Areata:
Typically diagnosed as an autoimmune medical condition that can also be genetic, as 1-in-5 people with Alopecia Areata have a relative with the condition.
HOW TO PREVENT GENETIC HAIR LOSS
Unfortunately, there is no Female Pattern Hair Loss. However, some solutions can delay the progression of it—especially when caught early. Unlike men, most women will not lose most of the hair on the top of the scalp. While overall thinning may occur, there are cosmetic, medicinal, and alternative treatment options to give the appearance of fuller, thicker hair.
FEMALE PATTERN HAIR LOSS TREATMENT
Treatment for FPHL requires focusing on retaining hair strands and preserving hair follicles. Wherever you are at in your hair loss journey, Daniel Alain has solutions to help ease the emotional and physical toll of genetic hair loss.
There are four categories of treatment for FPHL: Cosmetic, Supplemental, Alternative, and Procedural.
Medicinal treatment can re-stimulate growth on the follicular level with daily topical or oral application. There is only one FDA-approved treatment for women’s hair loss:
A non-prescription, topical solution intended for regular scalp application. Initially prescribed for men as Rogaine, Minoxidil is available at various concentration levels, with 2% and 5% being the most popular. It can take up to 6 months to see the results of hair regrowth and many people do not respond successfully to this treatment. Only with consistent, ongoing, and indefinite application will regrowth sustain longterm.
Known commercially as Propecia, this prescription medication is a pill form FDA-approved for men’s hair loss. However, some physicians will prescribe it off-label to women. It is contraindicated for women as it is not safe for pregnant women to take Finasteride as it will harm the fetus. For this reason, most doctors only prescribe to post-menopausal women on a case-by-case basis.
Cosmetic solutions are topical ointments, serums, and hair beauty products created to enhance the natural appearance of hair. Popular cosmetic solutions for FPHL include:
What you can do:
- Thickening shampoos & conditioners
- Hair retention treatments to reduce shedding and hair loss
- Styling aids
- Hair Building fiber
- Strategic styling and color solutions to enhance shine, volume, and improve confidence
In some cases, cosmetic or medicinal treatment is ineffective or slow to show results. Alternative hair solutions provide a newfound sense of confidence, empowerment, and beauty. Thanks to innovations in hair health and beauty, alternative solutions such as human hair wigs, top pieces, hairpieces, and extensions can improve self-image and confidence.
The last category of hair loss solutions is procedural. Each of these solutions is either non-invasive or an elective surgery option. Procedural solutions for FPHL include hair transplants, plasma therapy, laser phototherapy, and scalp micro-pigmentation.