Q: What causes female male-pattern baldness? What can I do about it? – A. W.
A: To be clear, female pattern baldness is the most common type of hair loss in women and it is different from male pattern hair loss. Male pattern baldness usually begins with a receding hairline and progresses to a bald spot at the top (crown) of the head. It is uncommon for women to bald in this pattern. Instead, with female pattern baldness hair thins at the crown and not at the hairline (edges). It typically does not result in complete baldness.
The reason for female pattern baldness is not well understood, but it may be related to any one of these reasons:
- Changes in the levels of male hormones. For example, after reaching menopause, many women find that the hair on their head is thinner, while the hair on their face is coarser.
- Family history of male or female pattern baldness
The key is to find out why you are experiencing the baldness. Hair loss can occur in women for reasons other than female pattern baldness, including the following:
- Breaking of hair (from treatments and twisting or pulling of hair, or hair shaft abnormalities that are present from birth)
- Some skin diseases that lead to scarring of the hair follicles
- Some autoimmune diseases
- Hormone problems, such as too much testosterone, or too much or too little thyroid hormone
- Too little iron
- Too little vitamin B (biotin) or other vitamin deficiency
- Medications such as chemotherapy and beta blockers
- Patchy hair loss (alopecia areata)
- Syphilis, a sexually transmitted infection
- Temporary shedding of hair after a major illness, surgery, or pregnancy
If left untreated, female pattern baldness can be permanent. Possible treatments include the medication minoxidil; hair transplant; or wearing hairpieces. More recent studies suggest that vitamin D may be somewhat helpful and worth considering.