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Reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
When experts discuss hair loss in women, most point to the typical symptoms and causes. For instance, breakage and thinning hair are signs something’s wrong, and dandruff and bald spots could point to a more pressing need to talk to a dermatologist.
Hair loss is a major problem for women, for sure. Research shows that less than 45 percent of women make it through life without at least some hair loss.
In other words, no matter how old you are, you’ll likely contend with it at some point in the future — that is, if you haven’t already.
The reality of hair loss for women, though, is that there’s more than one cause of hair loss to worry about.
Sure, female pattern baldness (also known as androgenic alopecia) may be at the root of most women’s thinning hair. But a woman experiencing hair shedding or hair loss from this particular type of alopecia might need different treatments than another gal with the same problem.
So, what do you do? Prepare — prepare for treatment. We can help with that.
Since hair loss can occur due to several types of alopecia, there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment when a woman begins to lose her hair.
But research generally points to several treatments that can do things like:
Shield hair from certain types of hair loss
Protect hair follicles from damage
Restore hair after shedding
Options include various medical, therapeutic, preventative and even surgical treatments.
Below, we’ll go over the necessary deets to chart your way to new hair growth, better hair density and (insofar as it’s possible) treatment for hair loss that actually works.
Let’s start this list off with your best option: minoxidil. The generic version of Rogaine®, minoxidil is an FDA-approved treatment available as a liquid, foam and oral medication.
Minoxidil works to increase hair growth by encouraging your hairs to enter into the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle.
Science isn’t exactly sure how it does this, but it acts mostly as a vasodilator. Minoxidil basically increases blood flow to your scalp, improving the supply of nutrients to your hair follicles.
Minoxidil is (at least for now) the only medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as a treatment for androgenic alopecia in women, thanks to its performance in studies.
In a placebo-controlled trial, researchers found that two versions of minoxidil (5% and 2%) produced improvements in women affected by female pattern hair loss (FPHL).
But the magic isn’t immediate — you’ll typically need to use minoxidil for several months to see results.
Minoxidil is the only FDA-approved treatment for FPHL. However, a treatment approved for men called finasteride can be used safely by postmenopausal women. Finasteride blocks the creation of the hormone DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is linked to hair loss.
We typically recommend using it alongside minoxidil, particularly in formats like our topical finasteride & minoxidil spray.
One way to avoid medication but still achieve better hair growth might be to employ something we all use every day: light.
Low-level light therapy (basically the use of low-powered lasers to stimulate follicle activity) has been shown to be effective in both men and women, with few side effects.
Many shampoos, including our hair loss shampoo for women, are formulated to reduce hair shedding, stimulate hair growth and strengthen hair.
Though some ingredients in these products may only have modest science to support their claims, a good hair loss shampoo can be a useful part of a comprehensive haircare routine. You might also want to check out our volumizing shampoo and conditioner to give what you’ve got a bigger lift.
While supplements generally don’t get the same thumbs up from experts, biotin gummies and other forms of biotin can help with new hair growth, particularly for people who are deficient. Along with zinc and other vitamins and minerals, the B vitamin plays an essential role in hair health.
Severe hair loss may require more than medication can accomplish. In these situations, it might be worth looking into surgical options.
Surgery can also lower a naturally high hairline or treat traction alopecia and other types of hair loss. The bad news is that it’s often prohibitively expensive — several thousand dollars is not unheard of for this type of procedure.
When hair loss is caused by excessive stress or a nutritional deficiency, certain lifestyle changes can do wonders.
A few simple changes can improve your hair growth, such as:
Eating a balanced diet. Food is fuel, and the numerous vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you consume play important roles in the hair growth process. Try to eat a balanced diet for strong, healthy hair.
Limiting stress. Stress can do bad stuff to your body, but did you know it can result in telogen effluvium, a form of hair shedding? Try to reduce your stress by getting enough sleep and preventing your work from dominating your life.
Quitting your smoking habit. Smoking is associated with an elevated risk of hair loss (along with premature graying), so if you smoke, kick the habit ASAP. Quitting can offer lots of other benefits for your health and well-being beyond how your locks look.
There are many hair loss causes to consider when picking a treatment option from the list above. After all, you manage stress and menopause very differently, so it makes sense that treating stress hair loss calls for a different approach than treating menopause hair loss.
There are several causes of hair loss you’ll be screened for initially, as they’re most common among women:
Androgenetic alopecia. Also known as female pattern hair loss, androgenetic alopecia often begins for women in their 40s, 50s or 60s after menopause, though it can happen earlier in life.
PCOS. Women with polycystic ovary syndrome have an especially high risk of developing this form of hair loss.
Telogen effluvium. Telogen effluvium occurs due to injury, stress and illness (particularly illnesses that cause fevers), as well as nutritional deficiencies and other medical issues.
Alopecia areata. This type of hair loss results from immune system issues — when your immune system attacks your hair follicles, causing hair to fall out.
Traction alopecia. Traction alopecia is caused by pulling or pressure placed on the roots of your hair. It can be due to particular hairstyles, like tight ponytails, braids or cornrows.
Losing your hair isn’t fair — and when it happens without warning, you might feel helpless. Luckily, treatments and methods are available to protect your hair and even regrow it when things go wrong.
While you’ll need to talk to a healthcare professional for help, we’re reminding you to keep the following in mind as you navigate this process:
Hair loss can occur for a number of reasons, which is why getting a diagnosis is so important.
The only medication approved by the FDA for hair regrowth for women is minoxidil, which can help you regrow hair lost to various conditions. It’s available as minoxidil drops, minoxidil foam and oral minoxidil.
Hiding hair loss with hairstyles and other dermatology-free cosmetics is also an option.
Concerned about hair loss? View our full selection of hair care products for women online to see what’s available for preventing and treating hair thinning.
Treatment is available — start your journey today.
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