23 April 2015

Why do women's hair fall out?

Male pattern baldness is so common that it does not cause the slightest surprise. At the same time, hair loss can be a very distressing phenomenon for a woman. What causes female baldness and how to deal with it?

The term alopecia means hair loss, or baldness. It does not belong to any particular type of baldness, which can be caused by many completely different reasons.

Everyone knows that antitumor chemo and radiotherapy can lead to hair loss. However, after the end of treatment, the hairline, as a rule, is restored.

Similarly, complete hair loss can be caused by various medications, pregnancy, thyroid diseases, extensive surgery, severe fever, blood loss, iron deficiency, malnutrition and extreme diets for rapid weight loss. Such baldness, known as telogen alopecia, or alopecia of the rudiments of hair, can persist for two to three months until the body is fully restored, but in some cases it can turn into a chronic form.

There is also focal alopecia – an autoimmune disease in which the hair falls out in places, leaving bald spots on the scalp.

Female pattern baldness has a completely different character – a genetically determined condition to which almost 60% of women of Australian origin are predisposed.

The course of female pattern baldness varies from woman to woman. In some, it develops immediately after puberty, while others retain a thick head of hair until menopause. As a rule, baldness in such cases begins with diffuse hair loss on the crown and front of the head. The least affected region is the occiput.

First, the hair falls out in periods of 3-6 months, the intervals between which can be 1-2 years. However, over time, these intervals gradually decrease, and eventually hair loss becomes permanent. However, even in severe cases, complete baldness does not develop and the hairline remains.

As a rule, both women themselves and the specialists they turn to first explain the observed symptoms by stress, hormonal changes, illness, taking medications or other reasons. However, if hair loss does not stop and the clinical diagnosis of female-type baldness is confirmed, a woman should know that this condition develops regardless of what she does with her hair. In this case, coloring, perming, blow-drying, frequent or rare washing, as well as environmental influences, diet and stress have absolutely nothing to do with it.

The hair grows from a hair follicle located in the thickness of the skin, each of which produces a certain amount of hair during its life. Each person at birth has more than two million hair follicles, approximately 100,000 of which are located in the scalp. During life, new follicles do not form. Every year a person loses a small amount of hair follicles.

With female-type baldness, the hair follicles do not die. Instead, they shrink in size and begin to produce short, thin hairs. Initially, a small number of follicles are subjected to the miniaturization process, which increases over time.

Experts believe that there are at least five genes behind this condition that determine a woman's predisposition to baldness, the rate of development of the condition, as well as the degree of baldness.

The trigger mechanism of female–type baldness is the effect on the hair follicles of male sex hormones - androgens. As a result, the follicles susceptible to them decrease in size until they lose the ability to form full-fledged hair. Early intervention in this process gives the best results, however, unfortunately, the vast majority of women do not receive timely treatment.

The main goals of female-type baldness therapy are to slow down the progression, stimulate the growth of new hair and eliminate the consequences of hair loss. Most therapeutic approaches can achieve only 2 of these goals.

The drug minoxidil, available in the form of a lotion for application to the scalp and in the form of tablets, stimulates the growth of new hair, but does not in all cases stop the progression of the condition, at least in the long term. Lotions containing minoxidil can be purchased on the free market, whereas the tablet form of the drug, in order to avoid unwanted hair growth on different parts of the body, requires careful dosage selection and is available only by prescription.

Drugs that block the effects of androgens, such as spironolactone and ciproterone, slow the progression of baldness in more than 90% of cases and stimulate the growth of new hair in 30-40% of women. They can be used both separately and simultaneously with minoxidil. However, while taking these drugs, women should exclude the possibility of pregnancy.

Several more drugs are on the way to clinical use. For example, the observation that some eye drops used in glaucoma promote the growth of longer and thicker eyelashes has renewed interest in the use of prostaglandin inhibitors as a means to treat hair loss. Currently, there are already several shampoos and conditioners on the market that suppress hair loss and promote their growth due to the content of prostaglandin inhibitors.

At the same time, a universal recommendation for all women who have noticed increased hair loss is to immediately contact a specialist, since it is much easier to prevent the development of baldness than to grow new hair.

Evgeniya Ryabtseva
Portal "Eternal youth" http://vechnayamolodost.ru based on the materials of The Conversation:
Health Check: why does women’s hair thin out?


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