WHAT IS ANDROGENIC ALOPECIA? by Julia

Losing between 50 to 100 strands of hair per day is normal. But what does it mean when when you’re losing much more? About a third of women experience hair loss (alopecia) at some point in their lives. Among postmenopausal women, approximately two-thirds suffer from thinning hair or baldness. The loss often has a greater impact on women than on men. Alopecia can also severely affect a woman’s emotional well-being and quality of life. But understanding hair loss caused by androgens can help you get it under control and ease away the stress it gives you.

Trigger Factor: Androgens
For women, the female sex hormones, estrogen and progesterone, are the main factors in the development of their hair. But in case of constitutive predisposition, it is the small amount of their androgens, secreted by their adrenal glands (at 60%) and by their ovaries (at 40%), which can negatively affect the normal renewal of their hair. The negative action of androgens accelerate the life cycle of some hair. This abnormal acceleration imposes on hair follicles and roots a rate of infernal production, forcing the production of shorter strands of hair. In the end, when exhausted, the follicles shrink and end up producing nothing at all.

Androgenetic Alopecia
Over time, many women will develop some degree of hair loss or female pattern baldness. This condition can start at any time after the onset of puberty, but women tend to notice it around menopause when hair loss usually increases. The risk increases with age and is higher in women with a family history of hair loss.

As the name suggests, androgenetic (or androgenic) alopecia involves the action of hormones called androgens which are essential for normal male sexual development and other vital functions in both sexes, including sexual desire and the regulation of hair growth. This condition can be inherited and involve several genes. It can also result from an underlying endocrine condition, such as the overproduction of androgens or an androgen-secreting tumor in the ovary, pituitary gland or adrenal gland.

In either case, alopecia is probably related to increased androgen activity in the body. But unlike androgenetic alopecia in men, the precise role of androgens is more challenging to determine in women. On the off chance that an androgen-secreting tumor is involved, it is essential to measure androgen levels in women who have significant hair loss.

In any sex, hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia occurs because of a genetically determined shortening of the anagen phase, the growth phase of hair, and a prolongation of the time between the “detachment” of hair and the beginning of a new anagen phase. This means that the hair needs more time to start growing again. Because hair loss from androgenetic alopecia is an abnormality of the hair growth cycle, it is theoretically reversible; however, advanced androgenetic alopecia will not respond to treatment because the inflammation surrounding the bulging area of ​​the follicle could irremediably damage the follicular stem cell.

Causes of Hair Loss in Women

Genetic Factors
The fact is that more than 90% of hair loss is attributable to genetic factors. Although lifestyle factors may affect hair thickness. Before blaming your diet or hair dryer, you might want to find out if heredity is a factor. Hereditary hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is a genetic condition that decreases active hair growth time. Androgenetic alopecia causes narrowing of hair follicles. Gradually, thinner and lighter hair, called “down”, replaces the thicker, darker hair. Women with inherited hair loss have a general thinning of their hair, with the most substantial loss occurring on the top of the head and around the hairline.

Stress
Stress increases the secretion of androgens and is the most constant aggravating factor. Androgenetic hair loss in women can thus be reinforced by stress in general. Stress, generated especially by a new lifestyle, contributes to the increasing number of cases of female alopecia and their increased severity.

Diet
Poor diet can cause hair loss in women by keeping the hair follicles in the resting phase. Furthermore, diets low in nutrients, such as iron and protein, can also lead to hair loss in women. The hair can start to grow again when nutrient deficiencies are corrected, but it can take a few months.

Thyroid Disorders
Hormonal fluctuations can cause hair loss in women. The thyroid gland regulates hormone levels. For example, people with thyroid conditions may have hair loss. In most cases, hair regrows when the thyroid condition is treated.

Pregnancy
Hormonal fluctuations can cause hair loss in women. A drop in the level of estrogen causes more hair follicles to remain in the rest phase. Known as postpartum alopecia, this type of hair loss is usually short-lived. Women who lose a lot of hair after childbirth observe a return to normal after six to 12 months.

Alopecia Areata
Alopecia areata is another cause of non-hereditary hair loss. This autoimmune disease usually leaves patches and rounded areas of the scalp. It can occur quickly and cause total hair loss. If you don’t have a history of baldness and have this type of hair loss, see your doctor right away. The sooner you seek treatment, the better.

How is Alopecia Diagnosed?
Alopecia can be diagnosed through your medical history and a physical examination. Your doctor will ask you questions about your hair loss, which is why you should observe the pattern of your hair loss, and examine your scalp.

The doctor can perform some other tests to check if there is a disease that could be the cause of your hair loss is if the source is not apparent. These tests consist of:

● Hair analysis: A sample of your hair will be taken and examined under a microscope. Furthermore, a scalp tissue sample will also be taken.
● Blood tests: Your doctor will test for a specific condition, such as hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism.
Hair Loss Solutions
If you decide not to wait for your hair to grow back (which usually takes upto a year) you can choose to follow the following:
● Wear Wigs: The wigs are made of human or synthetic hair that they implant in nylon net. Some wigs can be attached to the scalp with glue, metal staples, or ribbons. You can even use extensions: sew or braid longer pieces of hair in your existing hair. However, we do not recommend it as it could cause permanent hair loss.
● Use specific hair care products and design techniques: You can buy hair care products. Using dyes can help you “color” the scalp. However, the continuous use of dyes can lead to more significant hair loss.
● Corticosteroids: The most common treatment for hair loss in patches is injections of corticosteroids on the scalp or skin, about 1 cm (0.4 in.) Away, every 4 to 6 weeks.
● Minoxidil: Minoxidil affects the hair follicle in three ways: it increases the time follicles spend in the anagen stage, “awakens” the follicles that are in the catagen, and enlarges the actual follicles.
● Anthralin: Anthralin is ointments that can help hair grow back. Treatment with anthralin, a nonspecific immunomodulator, is safe and effective, particularly in patients with generalized alopecia areata. Anthralin is available in creams of 0.1, 0.25, 0.5 and 1.0% and can be applied once a day at home for progressively more extended periods, starting with five minutes to one hour. After each application period, the scalp should be rinsed with cold to lukewarm water and then cleaned with soap. The new hair growth becomes apparent in two or three months.

IN CONCLUSION
If you’re worried about hair loss, talk to your doctor. Treatment of an underlying disease or deficiency may be enough to restore your hair’s former glory. If you’re taking medication for a chronic illness, mention hair loss to your pharmacist or doctor. Doing this could help them pinpoint medications that cause excessive hair loss.


You can see all of Julia’s posts here.

1 Comment

  1. August 9, 2018 / 6:43 pm

    Great post, Julia!

    AGA in women is not much talked about, but it’s a condition that affects hundreds of thousands of women worldwide. And often times, women are just told to cover it up with a wig because it’s easier for them to do so than it is for men.

    I think it’s also important that women consider the natural options that are available. As it is, many of the ‘traditional’ treatments options just lead to further hair loss when treatment ends.

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