4 Useful treatment facts for the most common cause of hair loss in women

4 Useful treatment facts for the most common cause of hair loss in women

This post is meant to shed a little light on the most common cause of hair loss in women. Would you believe me if I didn’t intend that to be a pun? If there is one thing that I’ve learned in my 25 years of life thus far, it is that people hate losing their hair! The dermatology clinic is flooded with ladies (don’t worry guys, I know you hate losing your hair too) who are wondering why their hair is falling out in clumps. Usually they first notice that their hair is falling out in the shower and become instantly alarmed. This has led to many off the wall hair loss remedies being proposed that have little to no objective evidence to improving the presumed hair to ground transfer. With all that being said, the most common cause of hair loss in women is called female pattern hair loss, otherwise known as androgenic alopecia. This condition causes your longer, thicker hairs, called terminal hairs, to become thin and short hairs called vellus hair. Now to get to the six facts I promised in the title. Behold, an evidence based summary for the available treatments for women who have hair loss caused by female pattern hair loss.

1. But wait, I don’t have high blood pressure?

Minoxidil is a drug that was initially developed as an agent to control blood pressure. However, it was then discovered that minoxidil, most commonly known by its brand name Rogaine, was found to increase the actual hairs per square centimeter on the scalp. 1)van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Schoones J. Interventions for female pattern hair loss. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD007628. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007628.pub4. In other terms, more hair staying on your head, and a higher likelihood of maintaining a smile on your face.

2. If some is good, more must be better…

I’ve described what female pattern hair loss is, and that it is the most common cause of hair loss in women. Then I discussed the fact that it can be treated with a drug called minoxidil (no Rogaine isn’t just for bearded men). So before you run into your dermatologist and demand 99% strength minoxidil (which doesn’t exist) you should probably know that a large systematic review (huge study that looks at tons of other studies and melds them into a holy grail of evidence) done in 2015 2)van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Schoones J. Interventions for female pattern hair loss. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD007628. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007628.pub4. showed that the 2% minoxidil concentration grew hair better than the 5% minoxidil concentration. In short, the case of more is better doesn’t apply to this specific drug in the treatment of the most common cause of hair loss in women.

3. Does finasteride work for treating female pattern hair loss?

Finasteride is a hormone modulator that has also been proposed to help treat hair loss in women. However, there is only poor quality evidence towards its usefulness in hair regrowth. In fact, finasteride wasn’t shown to provide any more improvement as compared to a placebo. 3)van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Schoones J. Interventions for female pattern hair loss. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD007628. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007628.pub4. Either way, the bottom line is that minoxidil appears to work a whole lot better in the treatment of androgenic alopecia in women.

4. Laser combs are a thing

It has been proposed that certain combs that emit lasers when you brush them through your hair (sci-fi stuff) can be used to regenerate the hair follicles to produce more hair. There are a few studies that have shown that these laser combs actual improve hair counts in their study participants.  4)van Zuuren EJ, Fedorowicz Z, Schoones J. Interventions for female pattern hair loss. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2016, Issue 5. Art. No.: CD007628. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007628.pub4. Unfortunately, this evidence is pretty weak and could be bolstered by larger and more specific studies. Again, if your dermatologist thinks that you have female pattern hair loss he/she will probably still turn to minoxidil as a first line option for treatment.

How does it feel to be informed about some of the top treatment options for the most common cause of hair loss in women? It’s OK, I know this might not be earth shattering knowledge for many of you, but I write this post mainly for the one woman who is encouraged about her options for treatment when she is searching for answers to why her hair is falling out. This is why we also have other posts about screening for skin cancer at home, and informing our readers about anti-oxidants that can improve their skin health. We hope to promote evidence based awareness regarding common conditions that can be treated or even prevented with the right guidance.

In no way is this information meant to be a comprehensive guide to hair loss in women. Instead, if you do notice your hair falling out you should seek the help of a board certified dermatologist as some conditions may cause scarring and can be a sign of a more serious health condition. Do not just start trying to load up on the latest and greatest vitamin supplement that you saw on your Pinterest feed that is supposed to fortify your hair and increase growth before you can even snap your fingers. Schedule an appointment to get a professional opinion. After all, you know your body better than anyone else.

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