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Approximately a third of women will experience hair loss (also known as alopecia) in their lifetimes and as many as two-thirds of postmenopausal women will experience hair thinning or bald spots. Alopecia can drastically impact a woman’s emotional well-being and quality of living.
Causes of Female Hair Loss
Hair loss in women can be caused by various reasons. The risk for hair loss increases with age, and is also increased in women with a family history of hair loss. Medical conditions, certain medications, and iron deficiency could all contribute to alopecia.
One form of behavioral hair loss in women is traction alopecia.Traction alopecia is hair loss caused by unnecessary and prolonged stress/tension on the hair. This can happen with tight ponytails, pigtails, or braids as well as unconscious and continual plucking or pulling of the hair due to stress.
Treatments Available for Women’s Hair Loss
Medications for Hair: Alopecia in women can be treated with medications. Minoxidil is widely used for women experiencing hair loss (link to our Minoxidil blog article). In a double-blind study comparing the effectiveness of 5% topical minoxidil, 2% topical minoxidil, and a placebo, women aged 18-49 reported greater hair growth with the Minoxidil compared to the placebo. Assessment of hair count also showed statistical significance (Lucky et al., 2004).
Laser Cap Light Therapy: Laser cap light therapy is an FDA-approved hair loss treatment. It works by slowing down hair loss of the scalp and stimulating hair follicles to produce stronger, thicker hair.
Hair Transplant Surgery: The most effective way to treat hair loss is by grafting and implanting hair follicles to the thinning and balding areas.
Lucky, A. W., Piacquadio, D. J., Ditre, C. M., Dunlap, F., Kantor, I., Pandya, A. G., … Tharp, M. D. (2004). A randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 5% and 2% topical minoxidil solutions in the treatment of female pattern hair loss. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 50, 541-553. DOI: 10.1016/j.jaad.2003.06.014