Permanent Hair Loss in WomenHome / Hair Loss / Permanent Hair Loss in Women
The most common type of hair loss in women occurs in a diffuse pattern. Diffuse hair loss is most often hereditary. It can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, medications, and other factors. Common or “hereditary” baldness in women, also called female pattern alopecia, is genetic and can come either the mother or father’s side of the family. It is caused by the actions of two enzymes; aromatase (which is found predominantly in women) and 5-a reductase (which is found in both women and men).
Medical conditions that can cause diffuse hair loss in women:
- Obstetric and gynecologic conditions such as postpartum and post-menopausal states or ovarian tumors
- Anemia — iron deficiency
- Thyroid disease
- Nutritional — crash diets, bulimia, protein/calorie deficiency, essential fatty acid or zinc deficiency, malabsorbtion, hypervitaminosis A
- Stress — surgical procedures, general anesthesia, and severe emotional problems
- Connective tissue diseases such as Lupus
A relatively large number of drugs can cause “telogen effluvium,” a condition where hair is shifted into a resting stage and then several months later shed. Fortunately, this shedding is reversible if the medication is stopped, but the reaction can be confused with genetic female hair loss if not properly diagnosed. Chemotherapy causes a diffuse type of hair loss called “anagen effluvium” that can be very extensive, but often reversible when the medication is stopped.
Drugs that can cause diffuse hair loss in women:
- Blood thinners (anti-coagulants), such as warfarin and heparin
- Seizure medication, most commonly dilantin
- Medication for gout, colchicines and alopurinol (Xyloprim)
- Blood pressure medication, particularly the b-blockers (such as Inderal) or diuretics
- Anti-inflammatory drugs such as prednisone
- Medications that lower cholesterol and other lipids
- Mood altering drugs — lithium, tri-cyclics, Elavil, Prozac
- Thyroid medications
- Oral contraceptive agents, particularly those high in progestin’s
- Misc. — Diet pills, high doses of Vitamin A, street drugs (cocaine)
Localized Hair Loss
Although there are a host of dermatologic conditions that cause hair loss, they produce a pattern that is different from the diffuse pattern of genetic hair loss commonly seen in women and are easily differentiated from it by a dermatologist.
Localized hair loss in women may be sub-divided into scarring and non-scarring types. Alopecia Areata is a genetic, autoimmune disease that typifies the non-scarring type. It manifests with the sudden onset of discrete round patches of hair loss associated with normal skin. It can be treated with local injections of steroids.
Scarring Alopecia can be caused by a variety of medical or dermatologic conditions such as Lupus, Lichen Planus, or local radiation therapy. Hair loss from injuries, or from local medical problems that have been cured, are usually amenable to hair transplantation. Radiotherapy can cause both scarring and non-scarring localized hair loss and it also can be treated with surgical hair restoration if the area is not too large.
Localized female hair loss that occurs around the hairline after face-lift surgery may be permanent. Traction Alopecia, the hair loss that occurs with constant tugging on the follicles, can also be permanent if the habit persists for a long period of time. Both of these conditions can be treated with hair transplantation.
Patterned Hair Loss
Women with this type of hair loss have a pattern similar to what we observe in men. In other words, they have thinning in front or on top of their scalp with preservation of the hair in the permanent zone around the back and sides of the scalp. Thus, the balding is in a characteristic “pattern” rather than generalized. Women with patterned hair loss and a stable donor area may be excellent candidates for surgical hair restoration.
A simple personal call or email can start your road to recovery, so what are you waiting for All consultations are complimentary and free of charge. Dr. Kahen will personally answer all your questions.
John Kahen, M.D., the founder and medical director of Beverly Hills Hair Restoration, is one of the leading hair transplant surgeons to offer natural results using innovative techniques in hair transplant surgery. After meeting with patients, Dr. Kahen focuses on their individual needs and helps each one to achieve his or her specific goals. His treatment plans are customized and include both surgical and non