Hair loss can cause embarrassment for men and women – and it can also affect children. Male pattern hair loss is well known but there’s a version that affects women and this can be a very upsetting condition, especially if the bald area cannot be disguised, says Sue Ibrahim from Elan Medical Skin Clinic in Rayleigh Essex.
Patterned hair loss looks different in men and women. In women, there is widely spread thinning of the hair, mainly on the crown. The hairline often remains normal.
What causes female pattern hair loss?
According to the British Association of Dermatologists FPHL is caused by a combination of genetic and hormonal factors. The hairs produced by the affected follicles become progressively smaller in diameter, shorter in length and lighter in colour until eventually the follicles shrink completely and stop producing hair.
FPHL can be associated with conditions in which androgen (a group of hormones) levels are elevated such as polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). Acne, increased facial hair, irregular periods and infertility are all signs of PCOS. It is believed that it can be inherited from either or both parents.
Alopecia is a general term for hair loss. Its full name is alopecia areata. It usually causes small, coin-sized, round patches of baldness on the scalp, although hair in the beard, eyebrows, eyelashes, body and limbs can be affected. In some people larger areas are affected and occasionally it can involve the whole scalp (alopecia totalis) or even the entire body and scalp (alopecia universalis).
Alopecia cannot be cured. Depending on the extent of hair loss there is a good chance that, for 4 out of 5 affected people, complete regrowth will occur within 1 year without treatment. There may, however, be further episodes of hair loss in the future.
What causes alopecia areata?
Hair is lost because it is affected by inflammation. The cause of this inflammation is unknown but it is thought that the immune system, the natural defence that normally protects the body from infections and other diseases, may attack the growing hair. Why this might happen is not fully understood, nor is it known why only localised areas are affected and why the hair usually regrows again.
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For more information about treating hair loss click here
For more information or details about local support groups, visit https://www.alopecia.org.uk/