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Women's Hair Loss–– Why does it happen and what to do about it!

The most common question I receive is, "What can I do about my thinning hair?" However this comes in the form of a woman thinking she is the only one and with much confusion.

Androgenetic alopecia or Female Pattern Baldness happens when a woman's estrogen levels start to drop approximately 45 - 50 years old. According to Dr. Maryellen Smith, "Estrogen slows hair growth and makes the growth phase longer (2 - 7 years)." So naturally women start to lose hair with the decline of estogen. Additionally, each individual hair becomes thinner in diameter especially the pesky cowlick (see past blog) on the top!


A derivative of the male hormone testosterone binds with an enzyme (that is held in the hair's oil glands) and causes the follicles to die. That's the very short story!


All treatments are based on lowering that specific derivative of testosterone so that follicles will either live longer or stay thicker in diameter.

Minoxidil (which is in Rogaine) is the only FDA-approved medication for hair loss.

There are two forms: Men's which contains 5% Minoxidil and Women's 2%. The reality is that some women use the 5% and have better results. They also have a surplus of unwanted hair!

Propecia (finasteride) is only for post-menopausal women under a doctor's care. This medication is risky because of the side effects and generally used by men.

Tagamet I find the studies on this fascinating! Who would think a heartburn medication would be used in treating hair loss? It does work but maybe not as well as Minoxidil. See a doctor.

Aldactone is used for women with a hormonal imbalance, alone or in combination with Minoxidil. "Aldactone won’t help you grow new hair, says Francesca J. Fusco, MD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, but it can help the thinning hairs become thicker and fuller."

“Cyproterone acetate and its derivatives work in female pattern hair loss by blocking male hormone reaction on hair follicles,” says dermatologist, Amy McMichael, professor of dermatology at Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem, N.C. "Once this action is blocked, the hairs do not become miniaturized and contribute more to [hair] density." Unfortunately, it is not FDA-approved but is available in Mexico, Canada and Europe!

Biotin has no proven studies that it works on hair growth and we get a fair amount of this Vitamin B in our diets. I cannot guarantee that Trader Joe's Women's Formula for Nails, Hair & Skin works but it wouldn't hurt.

©2015 Dianne Nola

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