Friday, October 15, 2010
ROCHESTER, Minn. — Hair loss happens to women, too. The October issue of Mayo Clinic Women's HealthSource covers androgenetic alopecia, or pattern hair loss, that affects up to half of all men and women by age 50.
In men, pattern hair loss shows as receding hairlines at the temples and balding at the top of the head. Pattern hair loss looks differently in women. They typically maintain the frontal hairline but the hair just thins over the top of their heads.
Female-pattern baldness has no cure, but treatment can help maintain hair. In females, the gold standard treatment is minoxidil. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a 2 percent liquid solution for women. There's also a 5 percent liquid solution and foam that may work a little better. Many generic versions of the liquid solutions are available.
The medication is applied two times daily to the scalp in the area of thinning. It can take six months or more to see any benefit. Some women experience hair regrowth, but most will benefit by maintaining the hair they have.
"This may not sound too exciting," says Rochelle Torgerson, M.D., Ph.D., Mayo Clinic dermatologist. "But it can be a significant benefit over time by keeping the thinning hair from progressing."
Likewise, she says, people should be skeptical of any shampoos, vitamins or supplements that claim to restore hair. Studies haven't shown that these products help with hair growth.
Dr. Torgerson advises that women who experience rapid thinning of the hair see a dermatologist. Hair loss has many possible reasons. Usually, female-pattern baldness can be diagnosed with a medical history and exam. A dermatologist may want to do a blood test and a scalp biopsy to determine if a hormone problem or underlying illness needs to be addressed.
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