Hair loss or hair thinning can make you insecure, lead you to lose confidence and affect your emotional self and Female Pattern Hair Loss (FPHL) is among the most common types of hair loss in women. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr BL Jangid, Dermatologist and Hair Transplant Surgeon at SkinQure Clinic in Delhi’s Saket, shared, “Female pattern hair loss also known as Androgenetic Alopecia is an irreversible type of diffuse hair loss. It begins above the temples and progresses to the top of the head leading to baldness”.
It has been divided into three categories using the Ludwig Classification –
- Type I- Minimal thinning
- Type II- Decreased volume and widening of the mid-line
- Type III- Diffuse thinning and see-through appearance on the top of your scalp.
Genetics or hormonal factors are responsible for female pattern baldness which leads to thinning of the hair and less hair growth. Though there are several factors that may lead to the above condition. Dr Jangid listed below all the factors that can contribute to FPHL.
1. Hormones- Increased levels of Androgens can cause hair loss and hair thinning.
2. Genetics- If you have genetically determined shortened anagen phase that means there is an increased time between the shedding of hair and growth of the newer hair. Also, follicular miniaturization happens in which thicker hair is replaced by shorter and thinner hair.
3. Deficiencies- More than 50% of females have iron deficiency anemia leading to hair loss and less hair growth.
4. Ageing- Hair loss increases after post-menopause as there is less production of estrogen and progesterone. These hormones promote hair growth and increase their time over the scalp.
5. Stress- Stress leads to increased corticosterone levels which push the hair follicles to go under the resting phase, by making the stem cells inactive that divide for hair regeneration.
6. Internal diseases- Diabetes, hypertension and other chronic conditions such as cancer leads to hair loss as the oxygen and nutrients flow to the hair follicles get restricted. In an autoimmune disease, like alopecia areata body’s immune system attacks hair follicles causing hair loss.
7. Scalp disease- Fungal Infection such as that of Ringworm, Psoriasis, or Dandruff (Seborrheic Dermatitis) leads to hair loss.
According to Dr Shireen Furtado, Consultant – Medical and Cosmetic Dermatology at Aster CMI Hospital in Bangalore, “Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is a condition which affects a small percentage of women and is a progressive condition unless treated swiftly and efficiently. The primary cause of FPHL is still unclear- though there is robust role played by Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) the same hormone responsible for Male pattern baldness (MPB). Women with this condition are evaluated with basic full blood count, Iron levels, thyroid tests, androgen screen and trichoscopy to confirm the diagnosis. There are other conditions that clinically mimic FPHL.”
Dr Jangid suggested, “First, avoid experimenting on your hair or using home remedies; the earlier you begin a treatment, the better the results will be. Let a certified dermatologist examine your scalp and hair health and decide what suits best for you. Female pattern baldness is challenging and difficult to treat in comparison to male pattern baldness. In fact, a hormone-suppressing medication like finasteride, which is particularly successful in treating male pattern baldness, is not thought to be beneficial in female pattern baldness. So combinations of drugs are prescribed for a longer duration of time.”
He added, “Apart from oral medications, Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) treatment can be considered for promoting hair growth. Though PRP can’t be considered the first line of treatment and is effective when used in combination with other therapies or procedures. The process involves drawing 20 ml of blood from the patient and centrifuging for platelet separation. Then the derived PRP is injected into the hair follicles after cleaning the scalp with betadine and saline. It could control hair loss and promotes hair growth within 6-9 months. Lastly, depending on the condition, hair transplant procedure can be recommended, if all non-surgical options have failed.”
Dr Furtado revealed, “Medically FPHL can be treated with DHT inhibitor sprays and depending on the response in the patient, the percentage is modified. Additionally, if there is an androgen excess, anti-androgen medication, orally will immensely help a better outcome. Adding hair growth enhancers and omega 3 fatty acid supplementation helps many patients get back lusture in the regrowing hair. A good supplemental procedure is use platelet rich plasma derived from the patient to improve the thickness of the growing hair. With a proper diagnosis and treatment, it is possible to minimize hair fall and thicken hair in women who have a strong family history of FPHL.”
Dr Jangid concluded, “Female pattern hair loss can be incredibly stressful for women and can lead to anxiety and depression. Therefore, it is advisable to visit a certified dermatologist if you notice hair thinning or visible scalp. After examining and analyzing your current state, your medical practitioner will suggest necessary treatment.”