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What is Hair Loss in Women

The most common cause of progressive hair loss in women, FPHL (Female Pattern Hair Loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia), affects about 30 million American women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

FPHL has a distinct appearance. Hair thins mainly on the top and crown of the scalp, usually beginning with a widening through the center hair part.



Wong explains it this way: “Female pattern hair loss is characterized by miniaturization of the hair follicles, where the hair follicles become smaller and produce shorter, thinner, more brittle hairs, and can eventually stop producing any hair.  The hair follicles not only miniaturize but also can become deleted with a decrease in total number of follicles.”

Unlike men, women tend to keep their hairline, except for normal recession (which happens to all of us as time passes, Wong says). The hair loss in women will rarely result in total baldness, as it can in men.

Mistakenly thought to be a strictly male disease, women actually make up forty percent of American hair loss sufferers. Hair loss in women can be absolutely devastating for the sufferer's self image and emotional well being.
Unfortunately, society has forced women to suffer in silence. It is considered far more acceptable for men to go through the same hair loss process. Even more unfortunately, the medical community also treats the issue of women's hair loss as if it were nonexistent. Since hair loss doesn't appear to be life threatening, most physicians pay little attention to women's complaints about hair loss and essentially tell their patients that "it's no big deal", and that "you'll just have to live with it."
Of course what these physicians don't seem to realize is that the psychological damage caused by hair loss and feeling unattractive can be just as devastating as any serious disease, and in fact, can take an emotional toll that directly affects physical health.
The American Hair Loss Association recognizes that hair loss is women is a serious life altering condition that can no longer be ignored by the medical community and society as a whole.

Female hair loss can be devastating, but there are treatments.

Everyone loses hair. In fact, it’s normal to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. But what if it seems like there’s significantly more loss than that?
“Once you exceed that, you’re losing it at an abnormal rate,” says Dr. David J. Wong, clinical associate professor of dermatology at Stanford University. Contrary to popular notion, hair loss is not just a condition that men face: up to 40 percent of women in America also experience it.
But what about for women? It’s commonly more accepted — and expected — that men lose their hair. But when women begin to lose theirs, the psychological damage can be just as devastating as any serious disease, taking an emotional toll that can directly affect physical health, says the American Hair Loss Association, a consumer organization dedicated to the prevention and treatment of hair loss.

Studies have shown that patients who experience hair loss suffer from self-esteem and body image issues, impacting their social life and feelings of attractiveness.
The most common cause of progressive hair loss in women, FPHL (Female Pattern Hair Loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia), affects about 30 million American women, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
FPHL has a distinct appearance. Hair thins mainly on the top and crown of the scalp, usually beginning with a widening through the center hair part.
Wong explains it this way: “Female pattern hair loss is characterized by miniaturization of the hair follicles, where the hair follicles become smaller and produce shorter, thinner, more brittle hairs, and can eventually stop producing any hair.  The hair follicles not only miniaturize but also can become deleted with a decrease in total number of follicles.”
Unlike men, women tend to keep their hairline, except for normal recession (which happens to all of us as time passes, Wong says). The hair loss in women will rarely result in total baldness, as it can in men.

Making a Diagnosis

Since women develop hair loss for many reasons (more on that below) and each requires different treatment, it’s wise to consult with a dermatologist, says Wilma F. Bergfeld, senior dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic and past president of the American Academy of Dermatology.
Diagnosis is usually based on a few factors — ruling out other causes of hair loss, the appearance and pattern of the hair loss and your medical history (though FPHL is usually not a sign of an underlying medical disorder).
“It’s like peeling an onion to figure out what all the complicating factors are causing the hair loss,” Bergfeld says. “Oftentimes, hair loss can be due to a combination of factors, especially since after age 50, a variety of diseases and conditions can begin to develop in women.”

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