We typically think of hair loss as a very male issue, particularly when it comes to a receding hairline, but did you know that women can suffer from this problem too? Although it is not as common as for men, for women a receding hairline can be significantly more upsetting.
Male pattern baldness
Male pattern baldness typically begins in the late twenties or early thirties, when hair begins to recede at the hairline, then thin at the temples, and perhaps at the crown. These areas of thinning hair increase over the years – for some men this process is very slow, but for some men, often those for whom the hair loss begins earlier, it can happen very quickly – and can sometimes result in total baldness, although this is rare.
The exact reasons for male pattern baldness are not known, but it is thought to be hereditary, and is linked to over production of the hormone androgen, which can result in over-sensitive hair follicles.
Female pattern baldness
Even less is known about female pattern baldness than about its male counterpart. It is thought to have a genetic link, although this is less obvious than with male pattern baldness, and again the presence of the hormone androgen appears to play a part.
Female pattern baldness presents in a very different way, however. The hairline does not recede, and the majority of thinning occurs from the central parting of the hair, spreading out across the top of the head and the crown. Female pattern hair loss rarely progresses to complete baldness.
Frontal fibrosing alopecia
So far so good on the hairline front, you might be thinking. So what is this article all about? Well, unfortunately for women, there is still one condition that can cause a receding hairline and it predominantly affects post-menopausal women aged 50+.
Frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA) is characterised by a band of hair loss across the front of the scalp, which includes the hairline and eyebrows. The cause of the condition is unknown, although it is thought to be linked to a condition called lichen planopilaris, which affects the body's immune system.
FFA can occur alongside female pattern hair loss, and its frequency amongst post-menopausal women suggests that there is a hormonal element to its occurrence. There are treatments available to help slow down the hair loss caused by FFA, but nothing that can make the hair regrow, so early diagnosis is vital.
If you think you might be suffering from frontal fibrosing alopecia, contact your GP or a hair loss expert straightaway to find out what can be done.