In the words of Kanye West, two things in life are certain: death and taxes. But for 66% of men younger than 35 and about 50% of women over 50, so is hair loss. Androgenetic Alopecia is the fancy name for hormone-induced hair loss, and contrary to popular belief, can affect both men and women, albeit slightly differently. That’s right – if your once lush scalp is disappearing before your eyes, you’re not alone or abnormal. This is probably one of the saddest ‘welcome to the club’s you’ll ever receive, but take heart, there is hope, given to us by the life-changing health practitioners we know as dermatologists.
Diagnosing Male Or Female Pattern Hair Loss
Both male and female pattern hair loss are diagnosed by taking a closer look at the scalp. In addition to ruling out other potential causes for hair loss, dermatologists examine the pattern of hair loss, look at how your follicles may have changed, and ask a few questions about your family to determine if you’re predisposed to shedding those luscious locks.
When a dermatologist is diagnosing androgenetic alopecia, over and above the techniques above, they will conduct a pull test. It's as bad as it sounds. During a pull test, they grab about 60 hairs in their fingers and gently pull. The number of strands that come loose indicates the cause of hair loss. When conducted on different areas of the scalp, the pull test can indicate if pattern hair loss is present or not.
Male Vs Female Pattern Hair Loss
An easy identifier for male or female pattern balding is the shape of the affected areas. Male pattern hair loss manifests as the typical balding shape you picture when you imagine an old man caricature. Hair is thinning or lost completely at the top of the scalp and hairline but remains relatively thick and intact around the lower half of the head, creating a horseshoe- or u-shape with the hair.
Female pattern hair loss spares the hairline but develops as a widening of the parting along the top and crown of the head. Female pattern hair loss rarely leads to total baldness as male pattern hair loss can.
While the two patterns of hair loss may differ, there is one thing that unites them – Testosterone. Queue foreboding drum riff.
Male Pattern Hair Loss
DHT, or Dihydrotestosterone, is a by-product of testosterone. It’s responsible for deepening the voice, increasing and maintaining muscle mass, and increasing body hair in men. While these effects of DHT may be desirable, if you’re genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness, the hormone attaches to receptors on your follicles and causes them to shrink, making them pretty inept at doing their job – growing and supporting hair strands.
Female Pattern Hair Loss
A 2003 study found that DHT appears in normal levels in women with female pattern hair loss, while testosterone production was raised, suggesting that good ol’ testosterone, not DHT, is the villain in the female pattern hair loss story. That would explain why this form of hair loss is more common in women who have experienced the hormonal changes that come with menopause.
As we’ve said, there is hope if you’re experiencing pattern hair loss! There are FDA-approved medications that have proven benefits on slowing and reversing male and female pattern hair loss and balding.
Minoxidil was approved by the FDA as a topical hair regrowth treatment back when Sony first introduced their High-Capacity Floppy Disk, in 1998. After more than two decades, we think it’s safe to say that it does the trick. You can read more about Minoxidil and how it reforests your head here.
Finasteride was approved by the FDA for male pattern hair loss treatment a year before Minoxidil. Finasteride helps to stop pattern hair loss from progressing by preventing the conversion of testosterone to DHT. When coupled with Minoxidil, which encourages regrowth, you have a winning cocktail to regain the head of hair you’ve longed for. Finasteride is however not used for female pattern hair loss. Learn more about Finasteride here.
With both Minoxidil and Finasteride, the effectiveness of treatment depends on how early you treat your hair loss, how consistently you use it, and your response to treatment. So - be proactive!
We agree, ketoconazole sounds like an obscure Star Trek character. Originally an anti-fungal and anti-dandruff treatment, ketoconazole shampoos are often prescribed by dermatologists for their anti-inflammatory properties in treating multiple scalp conditions, from dandruff to psoriasis, but it’s also been shown to slow male pattern balding as well as female pattern hair loss, by soothing inflammation and promoting new growth.
While dermatologists aren’t sure why ketoconazole shampoos work, numerous studies show that it does improve hair density and growth in people with androgenetic alopecia.
Loads of people experience hormone-related hair loss, but it’s not a death sentence for your voluptuous mane. Over decades, dermatologists have nailed down the diagnosis for this type of hair loss, and found effective ways to prevent it, slow it down, and even reverse it. And we’re happy to say that with &BAM, it isn’t pseudoscience, and it isn’t unaffordable. You can start your hair loss treatment anytime, from anywhere 😊
The articles published by &BAM are for informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice. If you have any medical questions or concerns, you should contact your doctor.