Female Pattern Baldness: What’s a Woman to Do?

There’s something about Rapunzel letting down her hair, Mary Magdelene washing Jesus’ feet with her thick mane, and even Farrah Faucet flicking her wings with a wink and a smile which fixes the idea in our minds that a woman’s hair is her crowning glory. No one can deny that a beautiful head of hair can make a huge statement about one’s health, strength, and even their sexual prowess. Think about the lion and his mane; but when a man begins to lose his hair, he can become the butt of jokes, and, if he’s up to it, he’ll even play along with some of the joking. when a woman begins to lose her hair, however, the feeling is completely different. No one jokes, because no one would dare mention it. Hair loss in a woman is to shameful a topic to broach. It’s just not done.’

When a woman loses her hair, she loses so much more. Women are judged much more strongly on their looks, and hair accounts for much of one’s beauty. Men can be bald and distinctive, sexy. And there are tons of role models for balding men to gain confidence from: Kojak, Montel, Lawrence Fishburne, to name a few. Ever seen a sexy bald woman? The thought is startling, even repellent, isn’t it?

What makes things worse is that the entire conversation surrounding balding involves men and male pattern baldness. Even the diagnosis–‘male-pattern baldness,’ is fraught with sexual implications for the balding woman; lose your hair and lose your gender identification. If a woman wants to find help for her condition, she has to wade through a tremendous amount of research dealing with men’s balding. There are answers, however, and, believe it or not, there is greater hope for women with thinning hair out on the horizon.

The first thing to do when you finally acknowledge that you are, indeed, losing your hair and not instead having a spate of bad hair days is to get a sense of perspective. It is not the end of the world, as some women might feel it to be. Is losing one’s hair deeply concerning? Yes, there’s no denying it. Hair is symbolic of so much. As children we were taught to worship and tend to it with great care, brushing it with a hundred strokes each night, styling it is the latest fashion, washing it and conditioning it as if it were a ritual. But guess what? Gratitude can go a long, long way. While you’re sitting in the dark, wondering why this has happened to you, try to have a glimmer of understanding that while your pain is valid, you’ve not been diagnosed with a terminal condition. Things can always be worse. Feel the pain, feel the grief of an irreversible and progressive condition, and then look right away to a solution.

There are many causes of temporary hair loss. The first, most important thing to do is consult a dermatologist to see if the two of you can determine the cause of your hair loss. Some of the conditions which can cause hair loss are childbirth, severe infection, thyroid disease, inadequate protein in your diet and use of certain medications, such as blood thinners and birth control pills. If you and your doctor discover one or more of the above causes to be at the root of your hair loss, modifying or changing the aggravating factors will allow your hair to regrow.

Aside from temporary hair loss, there are two other diagnosable forms of hair loss: alopecia areata and androgenetic alopecia. In alopecia areata, the hair comes out in round patches in no recognizable pattern. Usually these round patches are the size of a coin or larger. Men, women and children have been diagnosed with this condition. It is the third condition, androgenetic alopecia, which is most common. It is commonly referred to as ‘male-pattern baldness,’ and if you’re a female, this term probably doesn’t make you feel too good. Worse yet, this condition is progressive, with thinning starting out at the front of the scalp and eventually working its way to the back of the head. Women may also have a degree of diffusion over the entirety of the crown.

So you’re a woman suffering from male pattern baldness–now what do you do? Check out the degree of your hair loss. If you’ve got just a general thinning of the hair, with the most of it being on the crown of your head, you may get some regrowth from using Minoxidil, the generic ingredient in Rogaine. Place the Minoxidil on the scalp twice a day for a few months. If you don’t get the results you want in four months, I’d advocate continual use, as it may still prohibit your hair loss from getting worse. With the generic brands readily available and reasonably affordable, there’s no reason not to stay on the safe side. There are two percentages of Minoxidil: 2% an 5%. It is generally advised for women not to use the 5% solution, as in some women it may grown fine facial hair. Once again, these are recommendations; however, if you’re not getting the results after four months from the 2% solution, I’d kick it up a notch to the 5% solution. Many women have reported greater benefit from the 5% Minoxidil, and if you start to see a hint of facial hair, you can always discontinue using the 5% and resume the 2% solution.

Also, using the right shampoo can help slow the progression of hair loss. One of the most popular hair loss shampoos is Nizoral 2%. Nizoral works by preventing the binding of DHT, the hormone responsible for hair loss, to the hair follicle. Nizoral, used twice weekly, in conjunction with Minoxidil, can go a long way in arresting your hair loss problem.

Diet, too, plays a role in hair health. Some vegetarians can experience hair loss if they don’t get an adequate intake of protein in their diets. Everyone, though, must make sure to get sufficient amounts of protein, by eating foods such as meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and for the vegetarians, healthy amounts of beans, tofu, grains and nuts. Green, leafy vegetables are important for all over body health, and the health of your hair, too. And to be on the safe side, take a good, all-purpose multi-vitamin which includes biotin, since deficiencies in biotin can also exacerbate hair loss. Make sure you purchase your vitamins at a reputable carrier, such as GNC, The Vitamin Shoppe and Whole Foods.

In terms of pharmaceutical help, Propecia, a prescription-only medication, may prove helpful in maintaining and regrowing your hair, especially if used in combination with Minoxidil. However, this medication must never be taken by women who are of childbearing age or who are planning to have children, as it can cause severe birth defects.

One word of caution. Hair loss leaves women vulnerable, because it’s such a painful, embarrassing condition. Unfortunately, there are dozens of online doctors and scammers just waiting to prey on your genetic predisposition. Don’t fall for unrealistic claims. There really is no miracle cure. Treating hair loss is a long term proposition which calls for patience and discipline. Hopefully, the medical field will come up with an answer in the next five to ten years. Until then, the only real answers are found in Minoxidil, Nizoral Shampoo, and Propecia. Use either one or all of these products for the best results. And most of all, practice self acceptance on a daily basis. Though your hair may be thinning, the most important thing of all is to remember that you are still the person you’ve always been.

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