by Cara Pellegrino
Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) affects approximately 85% of all men over the age of 50. We see advertisements for Rogaine, Propecia and other restorative hair techniques touted on our televisions and in magazines. Everyone knows most men will experience a receding hairline or a balding crown, not that this knowledge makes the situation any more bearable for men. Despite the common loss of hair amongst men, most men would do anything to change their naked truth.
But what about Female Pattern Baldness (FPB)? We see little information on this topic for one main reason: very little is known about the causes of hair loss in women. There is no known way of preventing FPB, and the treatment options are few, with minoxodil (Rogaine) being the only FDA approved drug for women. And with media attention barely brushing the topic of Female Pattern Baldness, women everywhere think they must suffer in silence.
Causes of hair loss in women vary from causes of hair loss in men. While men are often genetically predisposed for hair loss, women are more apt to suffer loss due to poor nutrition, stress, hormonal changes and even the changing of seasons. For example, as we enter the hot summer season, many women will experience temporary increased hair loss. This temporary loss is sometimes shocking, especially for those with longer, thicker and darker hair since it is far more visible on the bathroom floor than shorter, finer and lighter strands. Women commonly experience hair loss during menopause as well. Random, patchy bald spots in women could indicate a more serious condition called alopecia.
Treatments can include over the counter Rogaine, prescription Propecia, steroid injections, and in some cases, hair transplants.
Hair transplants have come a long way in the past decade with the development of new techniques such as follicular unit extraction. Men and women alike are undergoing this effective yet costly procedure and experiencing excellent results. The hair transplant process is usually done under local anesthesia where the surgeon will remove a strip of healthy hair from the back of the head, suturing the wound closed. The section of healthy hair is then cut down to individual follicles. The follicles are then placed into tiny holes where hair loss has occurred. Within a few months, new healthy growth emerges, and the new growth is usually permanent.
Most adults shed between 50-100 hairs daily. If you suspect you are experiencing increased hair loss, you can perform a “pull test” to help determine if your hair loss falls within the normal range. Grab a small section of hair, approximately one square inch, and pull gently, yet firmly. About 5-10 hairs should fall out during a regular pull test. If you lose more than 15, its time to call your doctor. You should contact your doctor regardless of pull test results if you are experiencing an itching or burning sensation on the scalp as it may be indicative of a larger health problem. Either way, the loss of hair doesn’t have to mean the loss of self esteem.