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Androgenetic Alopecia

Hair loss can happen at any point in life, but do you know what is causing it? Some will seek medical advice. Others just accept that hair loss is part of their genetic makeup. This is not always the case. There could be an underlying issue causing your hair loss. Here are some basics to help you understand hair loss, diagnosis, and treatment options.

diagnosing male pattern baldness

Male-pattern baldness, also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, is a genetic condition that can be inherited from either side of the family. This type of baldness typically takes place after puberty, as this is when the levels of blood androgens increase. 

Studies have shown that 96% of all hair loss in Caucasian Males begins as a receding hairline in the temporal area. This is true no matter what the final outcome of hair loss is. There are cases where those who lose their hair later in life (age 30 or over) develop different distributions and grades of baldness. 

Classification of Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA)

It will be crucial that your specialist diagnose the evolution of your hair loss, as this will determine how aggressive treatment needs to be, what type of treatments will be used, and what results you can expect. 

Standards set by the Norwood Classification, are widely used to determine patterns in male-pattern baldness. The density of hair loss will change as we age. There is no way of predicting which pattern of hair loss a man in the early stages of baldness will eventually display. 

Diagnosis 

miniaturization of hair
Scalp through Densitometer: normal scalp (left), scalp with miniaturization (right)

The process of diagnosing Androgenetic Alopecia can be made by observing the pattern of hair loss and confirming miniaturization in thinning areas. Miniaturization is a biological process driven by hormones in which hair shrinks in size, and will eventually leave the scalp bald. A doctor will use an instrument called a video densitometer to closely observe the scalp and detect miniaturization.

Treatment 

Male-pattern baldness can be treated in three ways:

Dr. Ronaghi offers FUE, which is where the hair is transplanted from the back or sides of the scalp to thinning areas, offering permanent hair growth. 

Just like with men, most women’s hair loss is diagnosed as androgenetic alopecia, as it is the most common form of alopecia. However, women do not develop a pattern in their baldness, it is typically scattered over the scalp and patchy. 

Typical hair loss begins between the ages of 12 and 40 but tends to go undetected for some time. Visual hair loss is typically present in those who experience hair loss by the age of 50. Women can style their hair in different ways, which can mask early signs of baldness. 

Women who have androgenetic alopecia will have increased levels of circulating androgens. They also have higher levels of 5a-reductase which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone and leads to hair loss in women. 

Pattern Of Androgenetic Alopecia In Women (Female Pattern) And Calcification

female pattern baldness

Female androgenetic alopecia can vary in its appearance. Here are a few examples to help you understand the variations that may occur. 

  • Diffuse thinning over the entire scalp with more noticeable thinning toward the front of the scalp but not the frontal hairline.
  • Diffuse thinning over the entire scalp with more noticeable thinning toward the front of the scalp, involving and sometimes breaching the frontal hairline.

Diagnosis of Hair Loss in Women

The process of diagnosing androgenetic alopecia in women is simplified when one or more of the following causes are identified:

  • History of gradual thinning hair in the front or top of the scalp
  • A family history of hair loss.
  • Presence of miniaturization in thinning areas. 

If these causes are ruled out, then a more thorough examination is needed. This may include blood work, a biopsy or laboratory testing. 

Treatment of Hair Loss in Women

Female-pattern baldness can be treated in a number of different ways:

  • Oral Medications – Sometimes Spironolactone (a medication used to treat high blood pressure) is used to help stimulate hair growth. In addition, Viviscal is a dietary supplement that promotes hair growth for both women and men. 
  • Topical Medication – Minoxidil (Rogaine).
  • Laser Therapy – Low-Level Laser Therapy is the perfect solution for those who have diffused hair loss. 
  • Surgical Hair Restoration – Follicular Unit Transplantation (FUT) or Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). However, most women are not good candidates for surgical hair restoration. 
  • Camouflage – Women can easily choose a hairstyle that will help mask their thinning hair. 

hair cycle

The production of hair is reoccurring and has three stages:

  • Anagen – The growth phase
  • Catagen – The in-between phase
  • Telogen – The falling Out phase

The Catagen stage will last between 2 to 3 weeks and is the transition before the hair falls out. The telogen phase will last for several months. During this phase cell division will come to a halt, causing hair growth to stop. The base of the hair follicle will progressively become weaker until it finally falls out. 

Hair shedding can be altered by certain life events, such as pregnancy. This is because the body contains large amounts of estrogen, which will encourage the production of more hair follicles. Once a mother delivers, 30% of the follicle growth will transition into a resting phase. Causing a temporary loss of hair for up to three months postpartum. 

Our hair follicles are also influenced by the seasons. It is typical for hair shedding to double in the autumn and summer. Shedding of hair is less prone in the winter. The Anagen phase occurs more in the summer than in the winter. 

Each hair follicle will go through 10 to 20 hair cycles during a lifetime. The anagen phase can last between 3 to 10 years, catagen phase can last 2 to 3 months, and the telogen phase can last from 3 to 4 months. 

We Want To Hear From You

Have you gone to a doctor about your hair loss? We would love to hear your experience and what caused you to seek medical help. Comment below and tell us your story.

Contact us today for a consultation and find out what could be causing your hair loss.