Hair loss can be embarrassing and frustrating, affecting your self-confidence. It’s important to see your dermatologist if you’re experiencing gradually thinning hair. She can diagnose the issue and recommend treatment, slowing down hair loss over time. This guide will outline the basics of pattern alopecia, so you can understand the underlying causes and your treatment options.
Pattern alopecia, or androgenic alopecia, is a common cause of hair loss in both men and women. This condition is genetic, causing the hair to gradually thin. Men often experience a receding hairline, which can start at the temples or crown of the head. Women will generally notice thinning at the hair part and temples. This condition is often called male or female pattern baldness, but it doesn’t always result in complete baldness.
This type of alopecia can start in a man’s teens or 20’s at the earliest, while women generally don’t experience hair thinning until they’re at least in their 40’s. Keep in mind that androgenic alopecia differs from alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks the hair follicles. This can cause total hair loss on the body and scalp, as well as patchy bald patches around the scalp and face.
As mentioned above, genetics is the main cause of pattern alopecia in both men and women. Changes in hormones can cause the hair follicles to weaken. These follicles then produce finer hair strands, which are more likely to fall out. They may also stop producing hair strands altogether.
In some cases, pattern hair loss can be a sign of an underlying condition. These may include thyroid conditions, fungal infections, cancer, nutritional problems, and conditions of the scalp. Lifestyle factors like smoking may increase an individual’s risk of experiencing pattern alopecia, as can certain medications.
While you can’t completely prevent pattern alopecia, there are some treatments available to slow down the hair loss. Proper care may help regrow some hair, particularly in women. So, it’s important to see your dermatologist for treatment as soon as you notice your hair thinning.
When treating pattern alopecia, many dermatologists will prescribe minoxidil (Rogaine). It’s available in 5% and 2% formulas. This product can stimulate hair growth over a six to 12-month period, but you will likely need to continue to use it past this point to retain results. Other medications like finasteride and spironolactone, and treatments like laser therapy, may also be effective. Patients can opt for a hair transplant as a more permanent solution.
Every patient will have a different experience when treating pattern alopecia, so it’s important to see your dermatologist frequently. They will check in with your progress and recommend new treatments if necessary.
If you’re experiencing pattern alopecia symptoms, the team at Pacific Dermatology Specialists are available to help. Our medical dermatology providers can diagnose your hair loss and create a treatment plan, so you can feel your best. We have locations in Carson, CA and the surrounding area, so contract us today to find an office near you.