Our scalps have an average of about 100,000 hair follicles – and over the course of a year, most of these follicles will each produce a hair, lose it, and renew itself again. We lose about 100 hairs per day. If your follicles are healthy, your hair will continue renewing itself and keep its density and texture; but if your follicles are damaged, they may produce dull hair or possibly not grow hair again.
As we age, almost all men and women experience a degree of hair loss – although in different ways and with different results. If you have areas where your hair is thinning or balding, it’s likely due to alopecia.
Let’s discuss alopecia, how it affects the genders differently, and what you can do to help regrowth in areas of hair loss.
What Is Alopecia?
Alopecia areata is the most common cause of hair loss in both men and women. This type of hair loss can be fast and progressive, and it creates one or more patchy areas about the size of a quarter.
Alopecia is the result of an autoimmune condition in which the person’s own immune system attacks the hair follicles, and makes the follicles stop growing hair. Because it’s due to an autoimmune condition, the body can heal itself eventually and the hair may grow back in that area.
Differences in Alopecia in Men and Women
Although alopecia is seen in both men and women, the differences between genders are significant and include the following:
Age of Onset
By their mid-50s, the majority of men have a degree of hair loss. Women tend to begin experiencing thinning hair much later, typically around their early 70s.
Speed of Development
The effects of alopecia develop over a longer period of time in women. Men experience a much more rapid, noticeable loss.
Physical Patterns of Hair Loss
Men begin to experience noticeable hair loss at the temples and/or a receding hairline. The hair loss may progressively develop into potential baldness. They may also have small round patches of hair loss.
In contrast, women develop thinning over the entire scalp. They may also have specific areas of hair loss where they part their hair, or even at the cowlick. This illustrates why it is so important to be gentle with your hair, and not tug or pull too much on the follicles – excess stress and pressure can cause hair to fall out.
Full baldness is only seen in about 4 percent of women, but its frequency in men can be up to 35 percent.
Medications for Hair Loss
Most treatments for hair loss, including transplantation, are similar for both men and women. However, when it comes to prescription drugs to treat alopecia, men may have an advantage.
One of the medications used most often for hair loss, minoxidil (the medication in Rogaine®), is generally not recommended for women and is not to be used by pregnant or breastfeeding women. Likewise, androgen-containing medications, which are commonly used by men in the treatment for hair loss, are not recommended for women due to potential hormonal interactions.
In contrast, there is one medication used in the treatment of hair loss that is not prescribed to men: cyproterone acetate. It blocks androgen (male) hormones – and while effective in women, its use in men is not recommended because it causes the testicles to produce less testosterone.
Hair Restoration Doctor
You owe it to yourself to take advantage of the latest hair-loss treatments available. The staff at Northwest Hair Restoration will share the latest information about cosmetic treatments, including hair restoration treatments.
You can request an appointment online here or call our office at (253) 572-2949 to schedule a consultation. Find out about how we can help you feel the best about the way you look.