The increasing number of hair stuck in your hairbrush, on your pillow or left in the sink after shampooing, can make you realize that you are facing hair loss problem. Hair loss in females could be due to various reasons. The common causes are aging, menopause and certain genetic and medical conditions. Medical conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome, thyroid disorders, anemia, allergies, and some other chronic illnesses can cause hair loss in women, which could be prevented to some extent, by appropriate treatments. Apart from stress, certain medication and a bad diet can also induce hair fall.
The most common cause for hair loss, in both men and women, is androgenetic alopecia. Pattern of hair loss due to this condition is different for men and women. While men experience total baldness and thinning of hair in particular areas like forehead, hair loss in women is uniform all over the scalp. It may be more on the top and front of the head.
In men, it is caused due to genetic and environmental factors, whereas in women the main reason is the hormonal changes during childbirth, starting or stopping the use of contraceptive pills and menopause. Generally, females suffering from hair loss are not given internal treatment, unless the doctors are convinced of the fact that the androgen levels in the body is much higher than the normal standards. Otherwise, they suggest drugs for topical application only.
Many different drugs are used for treating female hair loss and the effectiveness of these medication vary from one person to another. Even though, complete cure is almost impossible, some of the users have reported positive results. The most commonly used drug for topical treatment of female hair loss is minoxidil 2%, which is found to be useful to some extent (for hair regrowth). This medicine is found to be more effective in women than in men. It takes almost 12 months of minoxidil usage for the regrowth of hair. The new hair may be thinner and shorter and it may cease growing, if you stop using the drug. Minoxidil can cause irritation in the scalp.
Female hair loss treatment drugs for internal use include aldactone or spironolactone, tagamet or cimetidine, cyproterone acetate, estrogen/progesterone, oral contraceptives, nizoral or ketoconazole and propecia/proscar. Aldactone or spironolactone is an anti-antrogen drug, which slows down the production of the hormone and curbs its action. Tagamet or cimetidine is effective in treating hair fall and hirsutism (growth of excess facial hair) in women. Another drug named cyproterone acetate is also said to have a blocking effect on the binding of dihydrotestosterone to its receptors. This drug is not used normally, due to its toxic and harmful side effects.
Hormone replacement therapy, which include pills and cream of estrogen/progesterone is the most common internal medication administered for hair loss in women during menopause or those who have a deficiency of these hormones. Some oral contraceptives like birth control pills with low androgen index, is found to be useful in treating hair loss in women. It should be noted that high androgen index birth control pills can cause hair loss.
Ketoconazole, which is an anti fungal medicine, is said to be helpful in reducing the production of testosterone and other androgens. Propecia/proscar was a drug used to treat prostate problems and later found to be effective for hair loss in men. It is said that the drug can be useful for female hair loss treatment too, but there are no significant results. The above said medicines should not be taken without the advice of a qualified medical practitioner.
When medication and other treatments fail to treat hair loss, you can resort to hair transplants and scalp reduction surgery. These surgical procedures are expensive and painful. Moreover, they may cause side effects like scarring and infection. In hair transplant surgery, small plugs of skin with hair are removed from the back or side portion of the skull. These plugs are implanted on the bald part or where there is very thin hair. Many sessions are needed to finish the transplant. Follicular transplant (shifting of individual hair) is found to be more successful. In scalp reduction surgery, the loose skin over the scalp is tightened by removing the bald portions and closing the space with the hairy scalp. For better results, this surgery can be combined with hair transplant or follicular transplant.
If your problem is not that much grave, i.e. if the hair loss is mild or moderate, then take care of your physical and mental health. Eat a balanced diet comprising protein rich foods and avoid refined sugar and other foods that can trigger hair loss. Try to control stress and anxiety and exercise regularly. If the problem worsens, consult your doctor immediately. So, such treatment should be done as per the instructions of the doctor, who is the best person to diagnose the underlying cause. Self medication is not at all advisable.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice. Visiting your physician is the safest way to diagnose and treat any health condition.