Female pattern hair loss (Androgenetic alopecia) Dermatologist2019-06-11T09:52:06+00:00

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Androgenetic alopecia is the most prevalent type of hair loss in women and is the female equivalent of male pattern hair loss

IN THESE VIDEOS, I EXPLAIN THE SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES OF HAIR LOSS – AND HOW TO TREAT IT

In the videos above, I explain things in a simple way that applies to most people who have female pattern hair loss. Of course, no video or website can replace the value of a personalised consultation. At your consultation, you can have your skin carefully examined and get an expert recommendation to help you resolve your condition.

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Treatment helps people of all ages take control of their skin condition and get their life back.

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How does female pattern hair loss impact women on a day-by-day basis?

A HIGHLY DISTRESSING CONDITION THAT CAN CAUSE SIGNIFICANT EMOTIONAL DISTRESS

You have hair loss at the crown of your scalp

Your frontal hairline is commonly fully preserved. The hairs in affected areas look shorter, thinner and lighter coloured than the other unaffected hairs, before gradually falling out. Your scalp usually looks normal, and there are no specific associated symptoms.

You may feel frightened, self-conscious, and even shameful

Hair can be an extremely important feature for any woman. Losing it can understandably create emotional turmoil. Haircuts can become an upsetting experience. You might experience hair envy when you see women with thick, full heads of hair.

Your hair loss might be always in the back of your mind

Extreme self-consciousness is common. Is it obvious? Are people staring? Will people still like you if you lose your hair? A woman’s hair can be a part of her identify, and that loss of identify can affect every waking moment.

For some, losing their hair is shameful

In this era of real-time social media with filters and Insta-models, women are expected to have long, impossibly thick hair on their heads and be totally hairless everywhere else. Losing your hair can make some women feel “not like a woman at all.”

Is there any hope at all?

Unfortunately, we cannot yet cure female pattern hair loss. There are, however, some measures that we can take to slow down its progression. In some cases, we can restore part of the hair you’ve lost.

What my patients love about my service

MY PATIENTS ARE MY BEST PROMOTERS

Please pass on my thanks to Dr Pratsou for her assessment on my continued taking of roaccutane.

She was completely right, I didn’t need a new course, I needed to move away from the drug. The creams she gave me and Cetaphil recommendation have meant my skin has been the best it’s ever been (ongoing and since I saw her) ALL SUMMER :))))) I’ve had zero problems…and I’m loving it.

Thank you once again.


Phillip, Acne

“Dear Dr Pratsou,

Following the consultation today I feel it appropriate to say thank you for your help in dealing with my rosacea.

On each occasion, I have visited your department I have noticed the kindness and cheeriness of all the staff I have encountered and particularly wanted to say that you made me feel at ease with your calmness and excellent manner.

All is much appreciated.”


Anne, Rosacea

“Thank you very much!!

You three were (and are) a great team!

I will remember you.

You made me feel comfortable.”


Ellie

“Tania,

Please pass to Dr Pratsou my thanks for her skilled work.

The wound is healing beautifully and now the stitches are out it looks as though it will be almost invisible once fully healed.”


Graham, Skin cancer removal

“Dear Dr Penelope, Rena & the team, (I can’t remember the nurse’s name who helped me during my 2 procedures at the Spire!)

I wanted to thank you for your support and help during a very difficult time. You guys do a wonderful job – and we are eternally grateful for your help.”


Clarissa, Skin cancer

“I would like to put on record how impressed I was with the operation you performed for the removal of the SCC on my neck. I cannot even see where the cut or the stitches were! I am indeed very grateful for the excellent work you do.”


Harry, Squamous Cell Carcinoma

“Dear Dr Pratsou,

I am very grateful to you for your diagnosis, recommended treatment and advice. Your letter to my GP sets out both the course of events, and your own analysis of probable condition and possible cause, clearly summarising our discussion.

I hope there will be no recurrence but I will certainly come back to you if there is.”


Ryan, Skin rash

“Dear Tania,

Please pass on my thanks to Dr Pratsou. I saw her this morning for a mole check. She was so lovely and reassuring. Please also thank the two nurses who assisted her during the mole removal procedure. I was very nervous, but they were very efficient, which meant I did not have too long to think about it, but most of all they were very kind. They kept me distracted and calm, which made a huge difference. Thank you also for your efficiency in both booking me in so quickly.”


James, Mole removal
Dear Ms. Pratsou,

I am writing to thank you for the care you have given me in the past few months. From the moment I walked into your consulting room with a lesion on my cheek, a lesion that I fully expected to be some sort of skin cancer (and it was), you have been thorough, reassuring, respectful and in every way professional.

You recognised that I had some insight into the condition of my skin and the procedures required to treat me. You listened to me. You projected expertise and compassion.

During the procedure to remove the growth you ensured that the atmosphere in the treatment room remained not only calm, but actually pleasant. Had it not been that you were excising a growth and sewing me up, I almost felt as if you, me and the nurse were at some sort of women’s discussion group. The time flew by. I had zero anxieties about the procedure and as we both know now, the wound healed flawlessly.

Thank you for your expertise and your communication skills and all round good nature. I feel very lucky.


Karen Tatom, Skin cancer removal

We have replaced the images and names of real patients who provided these testimonials to protect their privacy.

The first step to feeling in charge of your skin is to book an initial consultation

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FEEL IN CHARGE OF YOUR SKIN IN 3 EASY STEPS

STEP 1 – CALL US
STEP 2 – LET’S MEET
STEP 3 – RESOLUTION
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Give us a call on 0118 373 5198 and we’ll help guide you towards a first appointment.

MEET WITH ME

I’ll see you and examine your skin before I recommend treatment. In some cases, I can begin treating your condition on the same day.

FEEL IN CHARGE OF YOUR SKIN

I’ll guide you down the road towards a resolution of your skin condition so that you can get back to normal life.

More information about androgenetic alopecia

FOR THOSE WHO WANT THE DETAILS

Female pattern hair loss, otherwise known as androgenetic alopecia, is a type of hair loss characterised by central hair thinning and decreased hair density. It is the most prevalent type of hair loss in women and is the female equivalent of male pattern hair loss.

Female pattern hair loss (Androgenetic alopecia) symptoms and lifestyle impacts include:

  • hair loss at the crown of your scalp
  • your frontal hairline is commonly fully preserved
  • the hairs in affected areas look shorter, thinner and lighter coloured than the other unaffected hairs, before gradually falling out
  • your scalp usually looks normal, and there are no specific associated symptoms
  • the condition can be quite distressing if you experience it.

Female pattern hair loss is usually due to a combination of genetic and hormonal factors.

Your affected hair follicles are more sensitive to male hormones (known as androgens) rather than there being an increased level of androgens. In isolated cases, we find increased levels of androgen hormones (for instance, in polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)).

It is likely you inherited this predisposition. It can become more apparent with decreasing oestrogen levels (such as during and after menopause).

I will, first of all, take a careful history of the onset and duration of your hair loss as well as any related health problems, your diet and any family history of hair loss.

The diagnosis of female pattern hair loss is usually a clinical one. It consists of an examination of your scalp and hair, with the aid of a special lens known as dermatoscope.

Sometimes, you may need a small diagnostic biopsy, if there is the possibility of an alternative diagnosis.

Additionally, I sometimes will ask you to take blood tests to ensure that there are no contributing factors to your hair loss.

Topical Minoxidil has been found to slow down the progression of hair loss. Only the 2% Minoxidil concentration is licensed in women but the 5% concentration was found to be more effective in trials and this is the strength that I would recommend.

This should be carried on for at least six months before any benefit seen and if so, should not be discontinued because any gained benefit will then be lost. Side effects can include local irritation of the scalp but generally as it is a topical preparation it is well tolerated

There is evidence that some oral medication can block the action of an androgen known as dihydrotestosterone and can help restore your lost hair. These include Spironolactone, Cyproterone acetate, Cimetidine and Flutamide. Unfortunately, these treatments do not come without their side effects and are only suitable for specific patients.

Some women choose to wear wigs or hair extensions which are available through specialist hairdressers.

Additionally, you can obtain special sprays that contain small pigmented fibres that you can use to camouflage areas of hair thinning.

“Is female pattern hair loss a curable condition?”

Unfortunately, we cannot yet cure female pattern hair loss. There are, however, some measures that we can take to slow down its progression. In some cases, we can restore part of the hair you’ve lost.

“What can I do to help my condition?”

In addition to the various treatment options, it is essential that we rule out any other causes that may prevent your hair from growing at a reasonable rate.

Sometimes blood tests can reveal an iron deficiency, vitamin D deficiency or an underactive thyroid level.

In these cases, correction of any abnormalities can help to promote healthy hair growth though they might not be the primary problem.

Links to patient groups

Alopecia UK

Tel no: 0800 101 7025
Email: info@alopecia.org.uk

Affiliations and memberships

I AM PROUD TO BE ASSOCIATED WITH THE FOLLOWING ORGANISATIONS

Questions and answers

RELEVANT AND INFORMATIVE VIDEOS AND ARTICLES

About the author

Dr Penelope Pratsou | Consultant Dermatologist

MBChB, MRCP (UK) (Dermatology)

I’m Dr Penelope Pratsou, a skilled independent Consultant Dermatologist based in Berkshire. I have specialist expertise in the diagnosis and management of all skin cancers, and in performing mole checks. I’m a trained skin surgeon and remove skin cancers, moles, skin tags, cysts and warts.

I also have invaluable experience in dealing with all skin conditions, from the common skin complaints of acne, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis, to the rarer and more complex skin problems, having seen it all through years of NHS work.

After I obtained my Membership to the Royal College of Physicians, I undertook rigorous specialist training in dermatology, before being appointed as a Consultant Dermatologist at the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading. There, I helped set up and lead a busy clinic for the diagnosis and treatment of suspected skin cancer. I was also actively involved in supervising and training both dermatology and GP trainees.

Alongside my increasingly busy private practice, I have maintained an NHS practice in Oxford in order to continue to engage with challenging cases and to develop my specialist interest in skin allergy.

Learn more about me

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