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Female Alopecia: what it is and how to treat it

Alopecia is hair loss and can affect men and women. When it occurs in women, the pattern of fall is different. Although this problem is more common in men, about 30% of the world's female population suffers from it . In Spain it is estimated that around 20% of women between 30 and 40 years old suffer from some degree of alopecia, even if it is low.
Hair loss is natural, since it is part of the growth process and it is necessary for the hair to fall so that new ones can replace it . However, the problem of alopecia arises when this regeneration does not occur at the proper rate, causing those affected to lose their hair completely or partially. Hair growth is regulated by the hormonal system and the appearance of alopecia is usually related to irregularities in this. Stress situations, hormonal alterations derived from other pathologies, inherited genetic predispositions or the simple passage of time are usually some of the most common reasons that cause the appearance of alopecia.

Causes of alopecia in women

The causes of female alopecia can be very varied, highlighting above all others the hormonal imbalances that occur after menopause, with a decrease in estrogen and an increase in the presence of androgens (male hormones).

In fact, hair thinning is a very common occurrence among women over 60 years of age (or even earlier, in the premenopause phase), sometimes accompanied by an increase in facial hair and other areas of the body (hyperandrogenism). .

It is also considered normal for unusual hair loss to occur after childbirth, while the body recovers its normal hormonal balance (six to twelve months); or when abandoning contraceptive treatment with female hormones, since these estrogens enhance the anagen (growth) phase of hair.

Genetics also counts when it comes to female alopecia, since women with a family history, whether male or female, are more prone to it. However, there are other physiological factors that can cause abundant hair loss.

Among them, we must point out the malfunction of the thyroid glands, whether it is hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism, since they induce an increase or decrease in thyroxine and this causes the hair to become finer and finally fall out. Likewise, women with polycystic ovaries may also experience abnormal hair loss.

Finally, other environmental factors that can cause hair weakening and subsequent loss should also be mentioned:

  • Stress.
  • Pollution.
  • A bad diet.
  • Smoke.
  • Poor hair hygiene.
  • Frequent use of extensions.
  • The continued aggression with certain hairdressing products.

Types of female alopecia

We can fundamentally distinguish two types of female alopecia, easily differentiated by their way of manifesting.
On the one hand, we have the Androgenic alopecia , which is the one that occurs most in women. In this case the hair becomes thinner and Volume is lost at the top of the head . Hair loss is a consequence of hormonal problems that weaken the hair follicles and these in turn produce less hair. This decrease in production means that the hair that falls out is not renewed quickly, giving rise to small areas of hairlessness, which if not treated can lead to baldness.
Androgenic alopecia is usually closely related to three aspects: the seasonal turnover of the hair, genetic inheritance or hormonal factors such as those that occur during pregnancy. pregnancy, lactation or menopause. External factors have also been identified that can affect hair loss, both in women and men. We are referring to stress and bad feeding .
The second type of female alopecia is known as alopecia areata and affects the scalp, but only in some localized areas . Is a autoimmune disease which can have different conditions, including genetics, and certain triggers, mainly stress, changes in life and infections, especially of the mouth and teeth. Having said all this, it is not known exactly what its cause is.
Alopecia areata is characterized by large or small circular areas appearing in which all follicular units (those that produce hair) stop making hair. There are different degrees, from being limited to small areas without hair until they join together, giving rise to larger areas of alopecia and, in the most severe cases, causing the loss of all hair and even all body hair.
There is another type of alopecia called Scarring alopecia , with also little known causes, but most likely with an autoimmune nature. It is a disease in which treatments, similar to those for areata, do not have great effects and for which transplantation is also contraindicated.

How to treat alopecia

To treat alopecia, the first thing to do is seek the help of a dermatologist, if he specializes in trichology, even better. Trichology is, broadly speaking, the science of the scalp and hair, both healthy and affected by some pathology.
One of the methods to treat alopecia is hair graft . To do this, the expert will assess several aspects, such as whether the hair loss has stabilized or not or whether the alopecia is diffuse or localized. In some cases there are medical treatments that can delay the graft.
In the case of alopecia areata, the treatment is totally different. What is most commonly used are corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, contact immunotherapy, or biological treatments, among others. Also used is the Platelet-rich plasma and mesotherapy .
It may happen that the alopecia does not respond to treatments or that it recedes spontaneously and the hair grows again.
"Because prevention is better than cure"
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