Hair loss in women is not uncommon. Studies have shown that it takes place in more than one-third of all women sometime during their life.
Although certainly not life threatening, it can have a significant emotional effect.
The most common type of hair loss in women is female pattern hair loss.
Although female pattern hair loss can take place at any age after puberty, it occurs more frequently in older individuals. By age 70, 38 percent of women experience female pattern hair loss. Typically, the hair loss occurs in the center of the scalp, although the sides can also be affected.
Other types of hair loss include the loss of hair that takes place after certain physical or emotional situations such as stress, surgery, a major illness, rapid weight loss, hormonal abnormalities and poor nutrition.
In these situations the hair loss usually doesn’t appear until two or three months after the onset of the problem. If the physical or emotional situation is corrected the hair frequently returns.
A variety of medications may also cause hair loss. Some of these medications are allopurinol, used to treat gout; catopril that treats high blood pressure; and tegretol used to manage seizures.
A less common cause of female hair loss is alopecia areata in which clumps of hair are lost. At times there can be complete loss of hair. Alopecia areata appears to be due to some type of immunological problem.
Treatment of female pattern baldness includes medications such as minoxidil. Studies have shown that minoxidil used twice a day results in minimal hair growth in 50 percent of the patients and moderate hair growth in 13 percent after eight months of treatment.
An increasing number of women are undergoing hair transplantation for this condition. Hair is taken from the back of the scalp and transplanted to the center of the scalp where the hair is sparse. Hair transplantation can be fairly expensive.
Although sometimes difficult to do, it is important to determine the cause of the hair loss so the most effective treatment can be started.