Loss of hair can cause stress and embarrassment along with lack of confidence and self-esteem, and it could be argued that this effect is more prevalent in women. Products containing minoxidil exist that are specifically aimed at women, but do they actually work?
Although more common in men, there are thousands of women who suffer from this condition. The difference is in the way hair is lost, in men it starts with a receding hair line and/or balding spots on the scalp, with women the hair begins to get thinner on the crown. The hair’s growth cycle is shortened and so hair is shorter and finer than normal. This hair loss will often be seen when any hair partings begin to widen.
Minoxidil is an approved medication for both male and female and is the only one that is safe for female use. Normally a 2% solution is used which is applied to the scalp on a daily basis. The solution is available without prescription but use without the advice of a professional is not recommended or encouraged. The true cause of hair loss needs to be confirmed before any medications are used.
No-one is sure exactly how minoxidil works but one theory is it stimulates the blood vessels and encourages more nutrients to the hair follicles. This will, in theory at least, prolong the hair growth stage giving the hair more time to grow and strengthen. This treatment needs to be applied daily and any signs of hair growth will not show for a few weeks. Once stopped, any benefit will be lost after a few months. It is not a permanent ‘cure’.
What are the primary causes of hair loss in women?
The cause of hair loss needs to be found and that will need the advice of a hair professional who will go through family history, diet, daily lifestyle, illness and if necessary blood tests.
Hair loss due to diet is relatively simple to redress and once a good balance containing essential nutrients is established hair will start to grow again. If an illness has been the cause hair will start to grow once the condition has been brought under control.
Hair loss due to genetics is another matter which cannot always be reversed. Male or female pattern baldness known as Androgenetic alopecia can be inherited from either parent’s side of the family. It maybe the direct parents have a good head of healthy hair but past generations had baldness. The gene will still be carried throughout generations and come to light at some point.
Women go through different hormonal changes throughout life and these will have an effect on hair growth. During pregnancy the body experiences many changes as it prepares to feed and develop the baby. A good diet during this time is essential as the body needs more nutrients to supply sufficient ‘goodness’ to the growing foetus and ensure that it develops and grows. Iron deficiency is common amongst pregnant women and can be a cause of hair loss. Advice from a professional is important as too much or too little of certain vitamins or minerals can be harmful especially if taken as a supplement.
As pregnancy can be a cause of hair loss this form of treatment should be avoided until after birth and breast feeding. If there is no history of hair loss in the family the use of minoxidil should be avoided as the chances are there is another cause that needs to be looked into. As the skin and hair are often the first signs of something wrong it is important to find out what. The skin is the largest organ but the least important. When there is a lack of nutrients the body’s system will automatically ‘feed’ the vital organs first and this is why the skin and hair will become dull, dry and lead to loss of hair.
Whilst minoxidil has been proven to show signs of hair loss cessation in some women, there is no definite outcome. Each individual will have a different experience and some can even have hair grow back a slightly different colour and thickness. Unfortunately there is a large proportion of women that it will not work for.
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