Losing hair is devastating. When it comes to a receding hairline, women often think, “This can’t happen to me… this only happens to men.” Not true. The fact is, anyone can experience hair loss.
Thankfully, a receding hairline in women is relatively rare. Let’s take a look at why it can happen, and things you can do to keep it from occurring so you can keep a full head of hair.
Alopecia and Thinning Hair in Women
If you’re a woman and your hairline is receding, a condition known as alopecia could be to blame. The word “alopecia” actually means “hair loss.” This can cause hair loss in various places, including your hair line.
In some instances, hair can fall out, grow back and then fall out again. In others, the hair loss can be permanent.
Alopecia (often referred to as alopecia areata) can affect people who are otherwise completely healthy.1
There are several different forms of alopecia. They affect women’s hair as well as men’s hair. All of them can contribute to hair loss, a receding hairline, and baldness.
This type of hair loss affects both men and women. But it affects them differently. Androgenic alopecia often leads to total baldness in men and a receding hairline in women.
Androgenic alopecia, researchers believe, is linked to a hormone known as androgen. Androgens play a role in sex drive as well as hair growth.
When there are too many androgens in hair follicles, those follicles have shorter cycle of growth. The hair strands that grow out of those follicles become thinner and shorter over time as a result. Also, it takes longer for new hair to replace the strands that fall out. This delays the hair regrowth process.2
The main characteristics of fibrosing alopecia are scalp scarring and progressive hair loss. This condition often leads to a receding hairline in women. Hair loss occurs in the form of a symmetrical band that occurs on the front and sides of the scalp. It usually worsens over time.
Eyelashes and eyebrow hair may also fall out.
Like other forms of alopecia, it’s not clear exactly what causes fibrosing alopecia. Some scientists believe that it’s an autoimmune disorder. The immune system attacks hair follicles by mistake.
Hormones may also play a role. The reason, researchers believe, is that the condition usually affects women over the age of 50 who have experienced menopause.3
Traction alopecia is a form of hair loss that is common in women. The main reason is hair styling practices they use. Buns, weaves, cornrows, tight ponytails, and braids repeatedly pull on hair.
The reason traction alopecia leads to hair loss is that tight hairstyles can, over time, cause scalp damage. They pull on hair strands that are connected to hair follicles. This can lead to broken or thinning hair, a receding hairline, or even bald spots. Traction alopecia typically occurs close to the temples, but it can affect any part of the hairline.
There are a few symptoms associated with traction alopecia. One of the most common is bumps on the scalp. Some people also experience a stinging sensation on the scalp, as well as tenderness.4
Cicatricial alopecia doesn’t lead to a receding hairline in women, but it does lead to permanent hair loss. It’s the name given to a group of disorders that destroy follicles. Scar tissue grows in their place. Other symptoms of this type of alopecia may include itching, burning, and pain.
The exact cause of cicatricial alopecia is not known. It appears that the condition causes damage to the sebaceous glands and stem cells that are a part of hair follicles. When these cells and glands are destroyed, that leads to hair loss in women and men. There is no chance for natural hair to regrow.5
What Every Woman Must Know About Female Pattern Baldness
Most of us have heard of male pattern baldness, or male pattern hair loss. Female-pattern baldness might not get as much notoriety, but it’s a very serious issue. Many women experiencing this problem will go to a dermatologist in order to find answers.
Now, female pattern baldness usually comes on gradually. It’s normal to lose between 100-150 hair strands each day.
In women with female pattern baldness, the hairs that grow back come in shorter. Eventually, they grow so short that they’re no longer noticeable.
As it turns out, female pattern baldness can start early in life. Some women even experience it during puberty. This condition is an example of hereditary hair loss. If one or both of your parents had it, the chances are you’ll get it as well.6
Hair grows in different stages. Hair will grow for a few years and then take a “rest” before shedding and regrowing. The resting phase is known as the telogen phase. If the hair roots experience some sort of stress, they can be pushed into telogen too early. This is known as telogen effluvium.
Different types of stress can lead to thinning of hair due to telogen effluvium. For example, it could be a physical issue. This could be something like a high fever, giving birth, or developing a severe infection or illness. Telogen effluvium could also be caused by psychological stress. Other reasons telogen effluvium happens include:
- Thyroid gland problems
- Crash diets that don’t provide enough protein
- Major surgery
Whatever the cause, telogen effluvium can lead to a receding hairline as well as hair falling out in bunches. This can lead to unsightly bald patches.
The good news is that it’s temporary in most cases. However, you should still see a doctor if you experience this problem. It could be due to an underlying condition that needs to be addressed.7
Treatment for a Receding Hairline in Women
If you’re a woman and your hairline is receding, there are different hair loss treatments you might want to explore. If you have an issue such as telogen effluvium, though, you might not need any treatment at all. There are some things you can do to keep hair loss from happening, as you’ll learn later.
Your thinning hair could be due to some sort of nutritional deficiency. In this case, receding hairline treatment could include taking supplements for whatever nutrients you’re lacking. There are also topical ointments designed to help stimulate hair growth. Talk to your doctor and see what type of treatment they recommend.
Is a Hair Transplant an Option?
Some women with receding hair may opt for transplant surgery. Hair transplantation involves taking hair follicles from the back of the head and moving them to areas where baldness is occurring.
Like any surgical procedure, however, hair transplant surgery is not without risks. A problem such as shock loss could occur. Hair will eventually fall out where the follicular unit has been transplanted. There’s also a chance your doctor may say the area of baldness is too large and a transplant won’t work.8
Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections
You might not be a candidate for a hair transplant. But you might be a candidate for a form of hair restoration treatment known as platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. This is a painless procedure with minimal side effects. You may feel a bit of pressure where the injections are applied, but that’s about it.
Blood is first drawn and then placed in a centrifuge. This separates plasma, a substance in blood that helps promote faster healing.
But it’s platelets in plasma that help with hair growth. They extend the growing phase of hair. Plasma is injected into areas where hair loss has occurred.
Treatment usually lasts for three months at first – one injection per month. Injections are then administered every three or four months. Treatment typically takes about two years to complete.
But this method of regrowing hair is not for everyone. If you are taking a blood thinner, or you’ve been diagnosed with lupus or thyroid disease, PRP may not work.9 Topical treatments are less invasive, less expensive, and have also been shown to be effective.
Can Baldness in Women Be Prevented?
As it turns out, some causes of hair loss are preventable. One of the best ways you can prevent hair loss is by avoiding tight hairstyles. Wearing your natural hair pulled back tightly can cause damage – as you saw earlier in the section on traction alopecia.
Your dermatologist may recommend that you stay away from tight “up-dos,” hair extensions, or anything else that will tug on your hair follicles. Also, stay away from wearing hair rollers to bed on a regular basis.10
Talk to Your Dermatologist
If you’re a woman and your hairline is receding, talk to your dermatologist about potential solutions. Stay away from so-called “miracle” products that promise immediate results. You might have heard, for example, that castor oil can grow hair. There’s no evidence that’s the case.
Talking to a professional is the best way of addressing your issues. They will give you the help you need to hopefully regain a head full of healthy hair.
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