For many women, alopecia, or hair loss, can be extremely distressing. Though women with healthy hair can experience shifts in hair shedding, thinning hair or an increase in the amount of hair shedding can indicate greater a problem with hair growth. The cause of hair loss can vary from person to person, but hair loss in women, including many different types of alopecia, including female pattern hair loss, is quite common. The American Hair Loss Association has found women account for about 40% of those who deal with hair loss in the United States, which adds up to over 30 million women in all according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
If you detect any bald spots on the scalp, or you are experiencing hair shedding of greater than 125 strands a day, or have observed a widening of your part line, you may be experiencing female pattern hair loss. Women’s hair loss can be a frustrating and stressful experience, as hair loss in women is not an expected cosmetic event. Although healthy hair is presumed to be the norm for women, unfortunately many women struggle daily with alopecia, hair loss, and thinning hair. The reason for hair loss in women is quite complex and can vary from hormonal reasons, to vitamin deficiencies, genetics, to autoimmune or metabolic reasons. Many young women suffer from female pattern baldness and these numbers increase dramatically in women as they approach menopause and have further fluctuations in hormonal levels.
If you’re frustrated by new hair loss or a continued pattern of hair thinning, board-certified, NYC dermatologist, Dr. Michele Green is here to help. Dr. Michele Green is an expert in cosmetic and medical hair loss treatments and one was on the first dermatologists in New York to incorporate PRP to treat both male and female pattern hair loss patients. Whether your hair loss is from stress, hairstyles, hormones, medications, or other medical conditions, Dr. Green will do a full assessment of your hair loss, quality of hair and your scalp assess to diagnose the cause of your hair loss. After a complete assessment, Dr. Green will recommend the best combination of treatments to help increase your hair regrowth and restore beautiful healthy hair.
Types of alopecia or hair loss among women
There are a few different common types of alopecia, or hair loss, that affect women. The most common types of hair loss include androgenetic alopecia, alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, and traction alopecia. Additionally, changes in hormone balance caused by certain medications, illnesses such as COVID-19, stress, and menopause, can all lead to thinning hair and hair loss.
When considering the various types of hair loss, it’s important to consider it in relation to the hair growth cycle. The hair growth cycle is defined by four stages: growth phase (anagen), transition phase (catagen), rest phase (telogen), and shedding phase (exogen). Many of these types of hair loss are classified by the way in which the hair growth cycle is affected, and hair regrowth often explores hair care that can benefit different phases of the cycle.
Before and after 4 sessions of PRP
Female pattern baldness – Androgenic alopecia
Female pattern baldness, also known as androgenic or androgenetic alopecia, is characterized by similar traits as male pattern baldness. In women, however, a receding hairline is less common. Instead, women tend to experience thinning hair along the part line (which looks like a widening part), followed by hair loss from the lop of the head. Like male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness is also thought to be a result of androgen hormone imbalances. A sensitivity to androgens can cause the hair follicles to weaken, which reduces the length of the anagen phase of the hair growth cycle, and lengthens the exogen phase.
Female pattern hair loss is classified by Type I (minimal thinning that can be hidden with the right hairstyle), Type II (decreased volume and noticeable part widening), and Type III (increased hair shedding with a noticeably visible scalp). Androgenic hair loss is considered to be a genetic medical condition, but can also result from endocrine disturbances, as well as rare androgen-secreting tumors of the adrenal, ovary, or pituitary gland.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition during which the body’s own immune system attacks healthy hair follicles, leading to hair loss in circular bald patches around the scalp. Alopecia aerata can be seen in conjunction with stress, thyroid disease, anemia, and diabetes. Dr. Green will perform a careful inspection of your scalp as well as your hair, to determine the cause of your hair loss, and order the appropriate blood work as well. When the hair loss has affected all of the hair on ones head, it is called alopecia totalis. When alopecia aerate explains to hair loss affecting the entire body, is is referred to as alopecia universalis. A unique type of alopecia aerata which is manifested by hair loss distributed in a band around the sides and back of the head is called Ophiasis Alopecia Aerata, and can be more difficult to treat.
Traction alopecia is a hair loss condition that is typically brought on by repeated restrictive or tight hair styling. When patients wear tightly pulled hairstyles such as braids, corn rows, ponytails on the top of the head, buns, or pig tails, breakage and irritation to the hair follicles themselves can occur. Typically, traction alopecia appears where the hair is being pulled back, and becomes more prominent as the hair falls once the hair style is undone.
Telogen effluvium is a process by which the hair speeds up the telogen and exogen phases of the hair growth cycle quite rapidly, leading to a large amount of hair shedding all at once. Telogen effluvium is typically brought on by a disruptive event, such as after a surgical procedure, generalized anesthesia, physical accident/injury or chronic stress. Some patients experience telogen effluvium shortly after pregnancy, as the body recovers from the shock of giving birth. Telogen Effluvium is unique in that it is marked by temporary hair loss; typically after the initial hair shedding process is over, hair regrowth restores any lost hair volume, though this may take several months.
What is the normal cycle of hair growth?
The normal cycle of hair growth is defined by four standard phases. The first phase is known as the anagen phase, and is the period where the individual hair grows for an average of 3-5 years. The second phase is the catagen phase, which is a short phase of transition during which the hair completes its active growth cycle. The third phase is the telogen phase, during which time the hair rests in its follicle for a period of around 3 months. The final phase is the exogen phase, during which point individual hair strands are released and the hair falls out. These phases are varied for each individual hair and hair follicle, which is why most patients don’t realize there is a disruption in the growth cycle unless dramatic shifts in thinning hair or hair shedding occur.
What causes women’s hair loss?
The most common cause of hair loss is that of excess androgens and hormone imbalances in the body. When it comes to female pattern baldness, androgens tend to be the ultimate instigator or hair loss and hair thinning, and sensitivity to androgens is hereditary. Hormonal changes, such as excess androgens, can present with other symptoms aside from hair loss as well, such as acne and menstrual irregularities. However, female pattern hair loss can be brought on by other causes as well, such as thyroid issues like hypothyroidism or nutritional deficiencies.
Outside of androgen-caused hair loss, there are several factors that can lead to hair loss. Telogen effluvium can affect anyone who has recently gone through a traumatic experience or who is dealing with an influx or continued high level of stress. Hormone imbalances that occur due to a change in birth control or due to a natural event like menopause can also exacerbate women’s hair loss. Additionally, patients who take certain medications such as cancer, blood thinning, or blood pressure medications can commonly experience hair loss. Lastly, nutritional deficiencies can play a role in hair loss, which is why patients who suffer from anorexia nervosa or bulimia often experience hair loss.
In some cases, hair loss can be a symptom of a larger health condition that needs to be explored. For example, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) often presents initially with thinning hair, as well as an increase in acne and body hair. In addition, thyroid problems such as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism can lead to hair loss. In order to diagnose the cause of hair loss, Dr. Michele Green will opt to do blood tests that can detect this specific diagnosis. If the cause is hormonal or due to PCOS, Dr. Green may prescribe Spironolactone or an oral birth control pill in combination with topical Minoxidil treatment to aid in the best hair regrowth.
Can zinc deficiency cause hair loss?
Deficiencies of certain vitamins and minerals can lead to har loss or difficulty with new hair growth. Zinc deficiency can lead to hair thinning and can damage hair, leading to breakage. Iron deficiency is also a common cause of hair loss in pre-menopausal patients, as it limits hair growth which leads to progressively thinning hair. Low levels of Vitamin D can also have an effect on the hair, weakening hair growth during the anagen phase of the growth cycle.
Why am I losing my hair at 30?
Though patients most commonly see the effects of female pattern hair loss more prominently with age, patients can experience hair loss at 30 years old. Additionally, factors like diet, hairstyle, hair care, hormones, and stress can all have a huge impact on overall hair health. If you’re worried about excessive hair shedding, it’s useful to consider shifting towards more nourishing haircare products and choosing hairstyles that limit stress on hair follicles. Additionally, patients often find that shifting to a diet high in iron, Vitamin D, and zinc can improve overall hair health.
Why am I losing my hair at 40?
Though it may seem young, women ages 40 and older to tend to experience hair loss more commonly overall. Female pattern hair loss tends to increase with age as women experience an increase in testosterone and other androgens and a decrease in estrogen levels. Additionally, medical treatments for blood pressure, gout, and other chronic illnesses can lead to a gradual hair loss or thinning hair. Many patients may experience premature menopause, and the only symptom may at first be hair thinning.
Why am I losing my hair at 50?
For women who are above the age of 50, menopause can unfortunately be a cause of exacerbated female pattern hair loss. During menopause, estrogen is lost, which can lead to additional androgen sensitivity, and thus further weakening of hair follicles. Nevertheless, hair loss treatment is available to women at any age. Treatments such as oral medication, hormone replacement, topical treatment with Minoxidil® (rogaine), and platelet-rich plasma (PRP) therapy can all help to improve hair health and stimulate hair regrowth.
How to prevent women’s hair loss
Though female pattern hair loss is often cause by genetics and therefore cannot be fully prevented, there are certain behaviors that can help to keep the scalp and hair follicles healthy while hair grows. First, maintaining a diet that includes food rich in iron, zinc and Vitamin D such as red meat, beans, chickpeas, fish, and eggs can help to improve the health of hair follicles and hair growth during the anagen phase. Biotin supplements have been indicated as a successful treatment for improved hair and nail health, but research is ongoing to determine how effective it is. There are also a few natural ingredients that can be applied as a topical treatment to fight against thinning hair, including rosemary oil, keratin, vitamin B5, and creatine.
Before and after 2 sessions of PRP
When it comes to daily life, limiting daily stressors or chronic stress can be vital in preventing hair loss, as these can trigger unwanted hair shedding. Also, it’s good to maintain hair styles that don’t pull the hair tightly along the scalp, opting for a loose ponytail, clips, or soft coverings to make sure the hair follicles aren’t damaged by a hairstyle.
How to stop women’s hair loss
Unfortunately, female pattern hair loss is a genetically caused medical condition that does not yet have a cure, which means that for many women, hair loss cannot be completely averted. However, Dr. Green offers a variety of treatments that can help reduce the amount of hair loss, encourage new hair growth and hair regrowth using simple, non-invasive hair loss treatments such as PRP, topical and oral medications, Keravive scalp treatment, the LaserCap, among other cosmetic and medical treatments.
How to stop hair loss in elderly women
For elderly women who may be experiencing Type II or Type III female pattern hair loss, hair restoration treatments such as topical minoxidil, oral medications, or platelet-rich plasma therapy are an excellent option to reduce the appearance of hair loss. Though the majority of hair loss in elderly women doesn’t have a cure, changes to hair habits and non-invasive hair regrowth treatments can have a huge impact.
Does saw palmetto help women’s hair loss?
Saw palmetto is a form of alternative medicine that is commonly used to treat urinary and reproductive issues, and is thought to affect hormone levels in order to combat hair loss in patients of all genders. Saw palmetto is derived from a plant in the palm family that originates from the southeastern U.S., and the powder made from its berries is sold in capsule and liquid form. Currently, saw palmetto is thought to block the effects of androgen hormones on the body, which in turn may improve hair growth. However, further large-scale research must be done to confirm its effectiveness in female hair loss patients.
How to treat women’s thinning hair: Non-Invasive Treatment Options
When it comes to hair loss treatment, there are a variety of non-invasive treatment options that can help with hair regrowth and overall hair health. These non-invasive treatments require no downtime and help to improve hair growth in the long term.
The most common oral medication for women is an anti-androgen medication, spironolactone (Aldactone) that is designed to prevent hair loss. Spironolactone is particularly useful for patients with PCOS. Spironolactone can be affective, but does have common side effects including depression, fatigue, weight gain, an sexual disfunction. Oral finasteride, also a common treatment for male pattern baldness, can often be successful, but does come with unwanted side effects such as libido impairment. Another oral medication that can often help in patients of a reproductive age is anoral contraceptives, as birth control can help to re-balance hormones in the body.
The most popular FDA-approved topical treatment for hair regrowth is minoxidil (Rogaine). Minoxidil is available over the counter and must be used daily in order to see real hair restoration results. Side effects for minoxidil include skin irritation, changes in color and texture of new hair growth, and unwanted hair growth in other areas, which is why many patients seek an alternative to this treatment option.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) for Hair Growth
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is a highly effective hair loss treatment. Platelet-rich plasma scalp injections are a non-invasive therapy for hair restoration that relies on the patient’s own natural proteins and growth factors to encourage healthy hair development. By using your own concentrated platelet-rich plasma (taken from a blood sample and concentrated via centrifuge), growth factors and proteins can be injected back into the scalp, helping to restore weakened hair follicles and boost new hair growth.
Platelet-rich plasma therapy relies on a variety of incredibly beneficial growth factors in order to improve blood vessel formation near hair follicles, enhance cell growth, and help to boost collagen formation. These growth factors include platelet-derived growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, epidermal growth factor, fibroblast growth factor-2, and insulin-like growth factor-1, among others.
Dr. Green has conducted her own review on the effectiveness of platelet-rich plasma for hair regrowth, and her findings are supported by multiple additional studies on hair loss. The Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, Dermatologic Surgery, and International Journal of Women’s Dermatology all cite positive results from platelet-rich plasma therapy on patients experiencing hair loss, and Dr. Green’s platelet-rich plasma hair loss treatment patients are a testament to its success.
After 2 treatments with PRP
Surgical options for women’s hair loss
Women’s hair loss treatment can be complex, and some women may turn to surgical options for treatment when desired results aren’t achieved. Hair transplantation is a possible surgical solution for female pattern hair loss, during which hair follicles are extracted from a healthy part of the scalp and transplanted to the site where the patient is experiencing hair loss. This hair transplant can encourage new hair growth and help to maintain a healthy hair. In addition, hair transplant surgeries are often complemented by the use of platelet-rich plasma therapy in order to maximize hair regrowth.
Can Keranique cause hair loss?
Keranique® is a shampoo and serum line that is advertised as a hair regrowth system. The hair care line uses an FDA-approved active ingredient of 2% minoxidil (typically referred to as Rogaine®) to help new hair growth. Minoxidil topical treatment is affective for hair loss, but must be used daily, and can have unwanted side effects such as weight gain and itchy scalp. However, Keranique is not correlated with new hair loss, and is unlikely to cause hair loss if used.
Can Xeljanz cause hair loss?
The answer to does Xeljanz® cause hair loss may surprise you. Xeljanz, generic name tofacitinib, is used to treat various types of arthritis. Though patients can often worry about side effects of hair loss from different prescription medication, Xeljanz’s active ingredient has been tested in a few studies for success in treatment for hair loss. It may be that patients noticed a difference in hair volume after going off of Xeljanz, as tofacitinib is currently indicated for hair regrowth.
How do I get started with treating my female hair loss today?
If you’re frustrated by thinning hair or hair loss, there are solutions that can help. Contact our office today to create your own custom hair growth treatment plan with Dr. Michele Green. Dr. Green has been treating both men and women with all types of hair loss for over 25 years in her discreet, private, NYC dermatology office. She is consistently voted as one of the best dermatologists in NYC by Castle Connolly, New York Magazine, and SuperDoctors. With over two decades of experience in cosmetic and medical dermatology, Dr. Green will help uncover the cause of your hair loss and the best treatment to regrow beautiful healthy hair.