Female Pattern Baldness

Difference Between Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss

Male pattern hair loss is commonly known as ‘androgenetic alopecia’, and for the longest time, this same term was used to describe hair loss in women. Scientists have since found out that the hormonal part of hair loss, which is the ‘androgen’ part of androgenetic alopecia’ is a lot more unclear in females than it is in males and a lot more complex in nature. In fact, studies have found that females who have normal levels of circulating hormones may still have hair loss! This is why the term ‘androgenetic alopecia’ has been abandoned for a more appropriate name: female pattern hair loss (FPHL).

Scroll to see different causes
of Female Pattern Baldness

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Female Pattern
Baldness

Genetic predisposition – meaning how likely it is that someone in your family has passed on those hair loss genes to you – and excessive androgens (male hormones) all contribute to FPHL. Other factors which also play a role are:

  • Diet & NutritionNot ingesting enough calories to meet your daily requirements, crash diets, nutrient deficiency (Vitamin D, fatty acids, zinc etc.)
  • Hormonal Changes – Pregnancy, menopause, contraceptive/birth control pills
  • Stress – Causes high cortisol levels and low melatonin levels, which affect hair growth cycles
  • Medications – Certain painkillers, antidepressants, anticonvulsants, or blood pressure medications can cause hair loss

Although hormones may not play the same role in FPHL as in males and females will often lose hair in different areas than men, a scalp examination will show the same ‘miniaturisation’ process. This means hair follicles become smaller and the hair shaft gets progressively shorter and finer due to long-term damage from androgens.

The Ludwig Scale

What is it?: The Ludwig Scale illustrates progressive hair loss patterns in women, as there are several common types of hair loss patterns associated with FPHL. It helps us determine your level of hair loss, and for the doctor to determine next steps. It progresses from Type 1-3 (Mild-Extensive) and usually starts from the centre top part of the scalp.

Our Consultation: We always start with a detailed medical history, conduct a physical examination, and carry out special tests on the hair and scalp (including tests for hair breakage, and identifying how many hair follicles are currently in the resting/shedding phase). 

Why Additional Testing?: Blood tests help us to understand if you have any hormonal, nutritional, inflammatory, or metabolic dysfunctions going on in your body that do contribute to hair loss. 

The complexity of FPHL means that treatment is not as simple as just using hair tonics or jumping into transplants – to help you with long-term results that also maintain and improve the quality of your existing hairs, our detailed examination is a necessary starting point.

Female hair loss in Singapore is most highly associated with a condition called ‘Telogen Effluvium’.

Hair growth happens in a cyclical manner. The anagen/growth phase can last for 2-6 years, the transition phase/catagen lasts 1-2 weeks, and the resting/telogen phase lasts 5-6 weeks where hair which detaches from the base of the hair follicle (dermal papilla) falls out. About 50 to 100 telogen hairs are shed normally each day, which is normal – 10-15% of hair follicles are in the telogen stage at any given time.

Telogen Effluvium means that a larger portion of the woman’s hair is in the telogen phase. This causes a greater amount of hair loss which is usually evenly distributed over the entire scalp (compared to just the hair parting). When you run your fingers through your hair, you may realise that many more strands come off, and your shower drainage is accumulating larger clumps of hair.

Telogen effluvium can be caused by:

  • Stress – Severe emotional and mental stress can shift hair follicles into the telogen phase
  • Medications - e.g. isotreitnoin, psychiatric medication, blood pressure and cholesterol medication, certain contraceptive treatments etc may all cause increase in hair fall. Stopping oral contraceptive pills after a long period tend to cause hair shedding for a few months.
  • Recent illness – Physical stress such as a recent major surgery, or having to take drugs that suppress the immune system can cause physical changes like hair loss
  • Hormonal changesPost-pregnancy hair loss or menopause can be caused by sudden dip in female sex hormones, which cause hair loss 
  • Scalp reactions – Hair follicles can be physically damaged by unprofessional use of hair bleach, or scalp and hair treatments

Because the hair we see on our heads has taken months to grow, a person might not notice any hair loss changes until 2-4 months after the event itself. In most cases, by the time you notice significant hair loss, you may have already had a 50% decrease in hair volume.

Female hair loss treatments focus on: Firstly, putting a stop to further hair shedding by addressing the cause of effluvium (such as dietary or hormonal changes); secondly, maintaining the quality of hairs that are not currently in the telogen phase; and thirdly, increasing the growth potential of the hair follicles that have just undergone shedding. Sometimes, telogen effluvium may resolve on its own, but professional help is often needed.

Based on the doctor’s assessment, treatment may involve topical treatments, oral medications or infusions, and in some extensive non-reversible cases, a surgical intervention. (Read more about female hair transplants here)

Female pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia in women) and telogen effluvium are the most common hair loss conditions in women. One often gets confused with the other, but they are two different conditions. FPHL affects 40% of women by the age of 50, and less than 45% of women reach the age of 80 unscathed by hair loss!

Female Pattern Hair Loss (Genetics)Telogen Effluvium (Temporary)
  • Strong family history: Parents, grandparents, or uncles/aunties have hair loss  
  • Location: Hair loss begins along the centre parting line, showing visible scalp
  • Hair shedding: Relatively stable over time (may increase at early stages)
  • Hair strands: Grow finer
  • Hair volume: Reduced
  • No strong family history
  • Location: Hair loss distributed across scalp, without specific visible scalp areas
  • Hair shedding: Increased amount in daily shedding (i.e. on the bed, shower drains, when sweeping through with fingers)
  • Hair strands: Normal thickness
  • Hair volume: Reduced

A comprehensive evaluation ensures that the right diagnosis is given when it comes to any medical condition, and this includes your hair. Different diagnoses can lead to different treatment plans, and it would be a mistake to attempt any treatments without assessment.

Treatment for Female Pattern Hair Loss in Singapore differs according to the severity of one’s condition. Some treatment options include:

  • Regenerative Medicine –  Regenera Activa Scalp treatment can help reverse the fine hairs and increase hair growth around the scalp, especially in the early stages of hair loss.
  • Oral Medications and Supplements – Nutrafol hair supplements or medication like Finasteride can help to maintain positive effects of hair growth by reducing the conversion of testosterone to DHT (which causes miniaturisation of hair follicles) and increasing antioxidant levels in the body.
  • Surgical Interventions – Genetic FPHL tends to be progressive, meaning the chances of it progressing to more hair loss is greater. At the later stages, your doctor may consider hair transplantation techniques as an option.

Telogen Effluvium is a temporary condition. Remove the stressor, and hair loss usually follows along with it. Hence, your doctor will also tailor recommendations for treatment for you if this condition is what you are suffering from, including advice for your diet and lifestyle

Female hair loss in Singapore can be attributed to internal stressors and external stressors, and has different durations as well. Sometimes, FPHL and Telogen Effluvium may overlap – it is possible to have genetic hair loss, as well as hair loss from stress at the same time. Hence, only a dedicated hair restoration doctor will be able to confirm your condition for you.

Internal stressors are those which are ‘internal’, meaning that your body systems create an environment where hair loss is more likely to occur. This includes Vitamin D deficiency that often goes unnoticed, and hormonal changes.

External stressors are those in the ‘environment’, meaning things around us that affect our hair loss. This is mainly work-related or family-related stress, crash diets or yo-yo dieting, and major exams in teenagers and children. The increased cortisol from these stressors shift our hair follicles into the telogen phase from usually 10% of our hair to a whooping 30% or more, increasing hair loss. 

Duration of hair shedding typically starts 3-6 months after the trigger event (such as illness, or stress). If Telogen Effluvium remains untreated, or hair loss goes on for more than 6 months, that is considered chronic. Permanent hair loss may occur; hence, the best treatment is early detection and prevention through swift treatment. 

First Step: A Subjective Assessment with Our Doctor/Specialist

  • We take the time to go through your medical history & lifestyle – how long have you been having hair loss? What about other illnesses? Lifestyle factors matter too, and we will check with your diet, stress, and sleeping patterns.
  • Symptoms matter – Have you been also experiencing itching or dandruff? Does hair loss appear in patches?
  • Assessing your family history of Androgenetic Alopecia – genetic factors matter quite a bit in this condition.

If your family history and symptoms point towards the direction of Androgenetic Alopecia, we proceed to…

Testing Option A: An Objective FPHL Assessment of Your Scalp & Hair

  • A physical examination can identify which stage of hair loss you are in by using the Ludwig Scale for Female Pattern Hair Loss – assessing the condition of your scalp and hair to see if spaces can be seen along the centre parting line as with the Ludwig Scale.
  • Hair strand assessment using a follicular scope – Whether strands appear to be finer and less pigmented compared to unaffected surrounding ones. 
  • A demarcation of weaker hairs within 1cm to the left and right of the parting line with fine hairs usually strongly indicates FPHL.

However, if those signs are not seen, they point towards Telogen Effluvium instead. Our specialists will then proceed to…

Testing Option B: An Objective Telogen Effluvium Assessment of Your Scalp & Hair

  • TrichoLab Studio - using high definition overall hair imaging, 20x and 50x zoom microscopy and AI and AR-powered analysis of the hair quantity, calibre and scalp coverage, a definitive diagnosis and staging of the hair loss condition can be achieved in a non-invasive fashion
  • “Pull-test” – During a pull test, a clump of approximately 50-60 hair strands is gently tugged at and pulled firmly in an upward direction in 6 different areas of your scalp. A positive pull test is when 10% or more of the hairs end up being pulled out. 
  • Microscope analysis – The bulb of these hair strands are looked at under a microscope to ensure they are the bulbs of resting/telogen hairs, which confirms the Telogen Effluvium diagnosis.
  • In correlation with your subjective assessment, we may perform a hair loss specific blood test to ensure you are not nutritionally deficient.

If you are female and experiencing hair loss, keep your hair health in check with these 5S’s:

  • Sustenance – Diet matters. Ensure that you are consuming a well-balanced diet full of protein, iron, zinc, and B12 to give your hair it’s maximum chances at growing healthy and strong.
  • Sunlight – 10 minutes of morning or afternoon sun daily is enough to provide enough Vitamin D. If that is not possible, Vitamin D supplements can help.
  • Shampoo – A clarifying hair loss shampoo will help reduce any oil, debris, or dandruff on your scalp to prevent inflammation that can lead to hair loss.
  • Stress – Stress management and proper coping strategies should be explored to keep your cortisol levels in check.

Session with a professional – If you notice signs of increased shedding or more scalp visibility along your centre parting line, it might be time to book a session with a hair loss expert or hair loss clinic!

Treatments
Available

At Terra Medical

Hair transplantation is considered the only permanent solution to hair loss, with an average 90% success rate. Not just reserved for the hair on your scalp, hair transplantation techniques can also be used for facial hair and to fill in scarred bald patches from traumatic injuries. 

Terra Scalpboosters aim to ‘boost’ your scalp health by injecting a specially concocted cosmeceutical formulation paired with a superior cell-membrane activation technology to stimulate your hair follicles into growing faster, stronger, and healthier. Read on more to find out what it’s all about!

"Autologous Micrograft Transfer" treatment procedure offers a lot of great benefits, which makes this therapy an effective and safe one. One such benefit is that it has minimal downtime! Unlike hair transplant surgery where you may need to set aside 5-7 days before being able to continue most of your daily activities, you will be able to walk out the door right into the next thing on your schedule after a Autologous Micrograft Transfer treatment.

There have been many reviews and studies done on the safety and efficacy of low-level laser light therapy in men and women experiencing hair loss. When the wavelengths of light penetrate the scalp, it stimulates the stem cells that help to ‘communicate’ to the hair follicles for increasing hair growth. The low-level laser also increases blood flow and production of ATP, an energy-carrying molecule found in the cells of all living things, and metabolic processes in the cell to deliver more nutrients and oxygen which stimulate faster hair growth. We call this ‘activating’ the hair follicles.

Terra Medical offers array of hair supplements that are clinically proven to improve your hair health. Do ensure to consult our medical practioner if you’re unclear of which to take for optimal improvement. 

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