Female Hair Loss Treatments

Hair loss in both men and women is in no less than 95% of instances caused by our genes so that we speak of hereditary hair loss. Other common forms of hair loss such as alopecia areata which affects about 2% of the population, telogen effluvium or seasonal hair loss usually have other than genetic background. Hereditary hair loss has the same cause in both sexes which is the natural metabolite of the male hormone testosterone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) attacking the susceptible hair follicles and causing their shrinking. About 25% of women suffer from this type of baldness at some point in their lives but they cannot use antiandrogen drugs, such as finasteride or dutasteride, that are being prescribed to treat hereditary baldness in men as these drugs could seriously hurt male fetus in pregnant women. However, some studies that were conducted on post-menopausal women recently indicated that finasteride (Propecia pill) might be also effective in treating female hair loss after menopause.

Most women are also not very good candidates for hair transplant surgery which has to do with their diffuse balding pattern. In men DHT mainly attacks hair follicles in the frontal area and on the top of their scalp and these follicles gradually lose all their hairs and die. Follicles on the back and on the sides of their scalp remain virtually unaffected by DHT and continue producing healthy hair. These follicles will remain resistant to the DHT effects also after their transplantation to the bald areas of the scalp. Female hair loss is different. Women seldom lose all their hair from a single follicle. It is usually only one or two hairs per follicles that will be affected by miniaturization. However, in women DHT can attack any hair follicle around their entire scalp which gives them the typical diffuse balding pattern. This makes it impossible for the hair surgeon to identify the hair follicles that would be resistant to the DHT attacks and suitable for hair transplantation. Hair transplant clinics do perform hair surgeries on female hair loss patients but there is no guarantee that women will not lose portion of the transplanted hair after the surgery due to continuing DHT attacks on transplanted hair follicles.

Unfortunately, most women cannot enjoy the full benefit of topical minoxidil either, the first drug ever approved for treating hair loss. Minoxidil is a vasodilator that was found to promote new hair growth if applied topically. Although men can use solutions as strong as 5%, 10% or even 15%, most women must settle down for 2% minoxidil solution (Rogaine for women). The reason is the minoxidil's side effect of promoting undesired hair growth on other parts of the body, including facial hair. Hair styling is also problematic with more concentrated solutions of minoxidil. Thus the best solution for women seems to be Rogaine foam which contains 5% of minoxidil but dries quickly and so enables them to style their hair after about two minutes of applying it. But the greatest benefit of using Rogaine foam is the fact that it seldom causes skin redness and irritation which in turn leads to minoxidil over-absorption often resulting in increasing the severity of the side effects such as the growth of the facial hair. Although Rogaine foam 5% was approved for use in male hair loss patients, many hair restoration doctors recommend it to their female patients as well as it is more powerful than Rogaine for women (2% only) and it carries little risk of negative side effects.

Most common period of life for a woman to suffer from hair loss is after giving a birth (but this type of hair loss is usually only temporary) and after menopause. The bodies of post-menopausal women produce less female hormones and thus more of the DHT is bio-available to damage their hair follicles. The most common treatments prescribed in this period of life are contraceptives based on cyproterone acetate (Diane 35 or Diane 50, also containing ethinyloestradiol). The problem that many women face here is that contraceptives using cyproterone acetate are not available in all countries.

However, there is one molecule called spironolactone (Aldactone pill) which can be described as female Propecia. This diuretic drug possesses antiandrogenic properties and can be prescribed off-label to female patients in combination with contraceptives to treat such conditions as resistant hormonal acne, unwanted growth of the facial hair and hereditary hair loss. Unfortunately, in some countries it may be difficult to find a doctor who is willing to do so as in order to achieve noticeable hair regrowth dosages as high as 200mg daily may be needed and the pill has to be taken permanently. Due to this situation many female hair loss patients buy spironolactone from online sources, resisting their fate and trying to save what they have yet left. As was mentioned above, women in reproductive age must take this drug in conjunction with some contraceptive in order to prevent pregnancy.

Other alternative treatments that are recommended to female hair loss sufferers include topical aminexil 2%, a molecule similar in its structure and effects to minoxidil but thought to be less effective, ketoconazole 2% (Nizoral shampoo) also having similar effects as minoxidil 2%, estrogen and progesterone pills and creams to treat hair loss in women in menopause as well as a myriad of herbal and natural hair loss treatments. The fact is, however, that for most female patients these treatments will not deliver results comparable to Rogaine foam and spironolactone while some, such as multi-component herbal products, may be quite uncomfortable to apply due to their stickiness, bad smell and a time needed to dry completely. You should also know that many of the multi-component herbal treatments are pure scams that only improve the thickness of your hair by filling it with proteins and moisture but doing nothing to stop your hair loss, let alone to regrow the hair hat has been lost.