female hair loss treatment singapore
Female Hair Loss
Female hair loss is more common than we imagine. As many as 50% of women will experience some degree of hair loss in their life time. Female hair loss is more widely encountered with advancing age, and this rate increases significantly after menopause. The importance of a woman’s hair cannot be underestimated. Quality of life studies have shown that women with hair loss have reported lower self-esteem, negative body image and impaired functioning at school, work and relationships. Nowadays, many younger women are seeking earlier treatments to combat female hair loss.
Common Types of Female Hair Loss
1. Female Pattern Hair Loss
Female pattern hair loss is also known an female androgenetic alopecia. In contrast to male androgenetic alopecia, the role of androgens (male hormones) in female pattern hair loss does not appear to play a role. Many women may complain of seeing more scalp when they part their hair or notice the volume of hair being half of what is used to be when they tie it up.
Female pattern hair loss is characterised by a reduced density of hair at the central portion and temporal portions of the scalp. The hair gets thinner due to the presence of more immature (vellus) hairs due to hair follicle miniaturization.
2. Chronic Telogen Effluvium
In chronic telogium effluvium, there is early shedding of the hair as the growth (anagen) phase of the hair is shortened. It does not cause complete baldness or hair thinning. In this condition, women may notice an increase in hair shedding after a shock to the system, such as childbirth, illness, accidents or even weight loss. However, there is no specific trigger in the majority of cases. The condition may lasts for several months to years, but will self-correct in the majority of cases.
3. Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is quite unlike the above 2 conditions. A single or multiple patches of hair loss may appear at rather sudden onset. It is believed to be autoimmune in origin, and may be associated with thyroid disease, vitiligo and stressful events. Most cases of alopecia areata are able to recover without any treatments. However, medical treatments are available for more stubborn cases.
Diagnosis of Female Hair Loss
During the initial consultation, the doctor will ask you questions in relation to how long you have noticed your hair loss, whether you are on any medications, and whether there is a history of hair loss in the family. An examination of the scalp to look for the pattern and distribution of the hair loss will allow us to determine the diagnosis in most cases.
A blood tests to check for underlying factors that may cause the loss of hair may be carried out. We normally tests for thyroid status, iron levels, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D and folate levels. A biopsy may be done in rarer cases of hair loss to help establish the diagnosis.
Female Hair Loss Treatment
1. Topical Minoxidil
Minoxidil is the only FDA approved medication for female pattern hair loss and can be readily found off the shelves. It comes in the spray, lotion or foam formulations, with differing concentrations (2 or 5%). It is common for Minoxidil to cause an initial increase of hair shedding during the first few weeks of treatment. Common side effects include scalp itchiness, dandruff and facial hair growth (mostly at the forehead). You are advised not to use minoxidil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
The medicine, Finasteride, is FDA approved for only male androgenetic alopecia. There have only been few studies reporting benefit for the treatment of female pattern hair loss. It cannot be used when pregnant, as it feminises the male foetus. It should not be used in females with a history of breast cancer because it may increase oestrogen levels.
Spironolactone exerts an anti-androgen and has found to be useful in women with female pattern hair loss. Its use in female pattern hair loss is considered off-label. Common side effects include giddiness, breast pain and menstrual irregularities. It cannot be taken if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
4. Viviscal Professional
Viviscal Professional is a 100% drug free hair growth supplement that nourishes thinning hair and promotes hair growth. The Viviscal Professional formula consists of the proprietary AminoMar C marine complex, plus a combination of essential nutrients – including Biotin, Vitamin C and Procyanidin B-2).
5. Laser Light Therapy
There are several devices on the market that uses low level laser light energy as a treatment for female pattern hair loss. They may take the shape of a helmet, hair-band or even a comb. They are generally safe, and can complement existing medical treatments.
6. Hair Transplantation
Hair transplantation has emerged for the treatment of severe hair loss. The success of treatment depends on the donor site and the pattern of hair loss. In female pattern hair loss, the donor site is more limited as the distribution of the hair loss is more widespread.
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- Cash TF. The psychosocial consequences of androgenetic alopecia: a review of the research literature. Br J Dermatol. 1999;141:398-405.
- Levy LL, Emer JJ. Female pattern alopecia: current perspectives. Int J Women’s Health. 2013;5:541-556.