The various advertisements around today lead people to believe hair loss is a concern for men alone. In contrast, close to two thirds of all women have or will suffer from hair loss at some point in life. Hair loss in women generally does not cause complete baldness, as opposed to the general observation for men. In the New England Journal of Medicine, two of the most common types of hair loss were explained, along with their treatments. These are: Androgenetic Alopecia and Alopecia areata.
Is Estrogen a factor in Hair Loss?
The effect of estrogen on hair growth is not evident. Physicians prescribe oral as well as topical estrogens to treat hair loss in women. However, there are no studies that support this.
Women who use oral contraceptives to treat hair loss must choose the ones which have minimal or no androgenic activity, e.g. ethynodiol diacetate or norgestimate. Women with androgenetic aplopecia should avoid the use of testosterone and androgen precursors like DHEA.
Alopecia areata, an immune disease, affects about 2% of the US population. This hair loss is observed in various degrees: ranging from small, round shaped patches that regrow without treatment over time; to extensive chronic hair loss involving complete baldness or loss of all body hair. Both men and women can suffer from this type of hair loss. Though it can occur at any age, it is mostly observed in children and young adults.
Hair loss treatment for women
Immunomodulating therapies like glucocorticoids, topical immunotherapy and anthralin are used to treat this type of hair loss. Another treatment is the use of biological response modifiers like Minoxidil. The patient’s age and the extent of hair loss are factors that determine the choice of treatment to be used. Greater improvement is observed in mild cases than in the higher degrees of hair loss. However, these treatments do not restore hair completely in cases of complete baldness or loss of all body hair.