Male and Female Pattern Baldness Explained

Hereditary Pattern Baldness occurs in specific patterns in both males and females and is a persistent and progressive condition, however, supportive treatment or measures can help control the amount of hair loss in either gender.

Female Pattern Baldness

Female Pattern Baldness, or the inherited form of hair loss in women also known as Androgenetic Alopecia, is similar to the pattern baldness that occurs in males, with the only difference being in the pattern in which the hair loss occurs.

It is estimated that about two-thirds of the entire female population has to ultimately face hair loss problems in their lifetime. This could be attributed to hormonal disturbances, age and a family history of hair loss.

In females, the most commonly involved sites for hair loss include the frontal, parietal, and central zones of the scalp.

Causes:

The main reasons for female pattern baldness are:

  • Excessive Androgens:
    As the name Androgenetic Alopecia implies, this condition sees the involvement of Androgens, which may in fact be present in higher than normal quantities in females suffering from hair loss. Possible reasons for this could be an underlying endocrinological tumor, ovarian tumor, pituitary tumor, etc.
    Although excessive Androgens give rise to Alopecia, the mechanism behind this form of hair loss is still unclear.
  • Genetics:
    Genes interfere with the normal life cycle of the hair, causing the Anagen (or Hair Growth phase) to be shortened, while the time between the shedding of old hair and the regrowth of new ones in their place is increased.
    This disruption ultimately causes the entire hair cycle to malfunction, and the hair follicles, which stimulate hair growth, are affected as well.

  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome:
    This is the most common endocrinological abnormality that is linked with higher rates of this type of hair loss. Females who suffer from PCOS are very likely to experience this pattern baldness at one stage or the other in their lives.

Male Pattern Baldness 

Pattern BaldnessMale Pattern Baldness (MPB) is more common than Female Pattern Baldness. The reason behind it predominating one gender is quite an obvious one – males have Androgens as one of their principal hormones, and these very Androgens cause hair loss by affecting the quality of the hair follicles on the scalp.

Although MPB can affect any age group, it is most common in older men, with 50% of men over 50 bound to lose their hair to male pattern baldness in the USA alone.

In the majority of cases this condition manifests itself in the form of either a single bald patch, or an M-shaped line across the circumference of the head.

Causes: 

The most common causes behind this hair loss include:

  • Genetics:
    Genetics plays a very important role in causing pattern baldness in males, and is its most common causative factor. The reason behind this is mainly Androgen-related. Men inherit a baldness-susceptible gene from their mothers. This gene causes more Androgens to be present within the scalp receptors and ultimately, hair follicles are subjected to insults by it. This results in the men becoming bald due to the presence of faulty hair follicles.

  • Other Miscellaneous Causes:
    Although uncommon, several diseases may give rise to pattern baldness in males, including Anemia, Scalp Diseases, Stress and Thyroid Issues.
    Some men also experience hair loss as a result of Chemotherapy, Radiation Therapy, and several medicines including Blood Thinners and Steroids.

What Are The Treatment Options? 

With a detailed medical history and a proper evaluation of the baseline investigations, the underlying cause which is responsible for hair loss can be found and subsequently treated.

Most popularly, Minoxidil – a potent vasodilator used for hypertension is used to promote hair growth.

Several other cosmetic procedures such as Microneedling, Platelet-rich Plasma Therapy, and Hair Transplantation are also being commonly employed for the treatment of Pattern Baldness and provide long-term results to both males and females.

Can Pattern Baldness Be Reversed? 

Unfortunately, being a genetic condition, both the male and female variants of pattern baldness have no permanent cure, and only supportive management is employed to promote hair growth. Other than that, there is no definitive cure for this disease because it is engraved in your genetic makeup.

 

 

References: 

  1. Lolli, F., Pallotti, F., Rossi, A., Fortuna, M. C., Caro, G., Lenzi, A., Sansone, A., & Lombardo, F. (2017). Androgenetic alopecia: a review. Endocrine, 57(1), 9–17. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12020-017-1280-y
  2. Fabbrocini, G., Cantelli, M., Masarà, A., Annunziata, M. C., Marasca, C., & Cacciapuoti, S. (2018). Female pattern hair loss: A clinical, pathophysiologic, and therapeutic review. International journal of women’s dermatology, 4(4), 203–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijwd.2018.05.001
  3. Cranwell W, Sinclair R. Male Androgenetic Alopecia. [Updated 2016 Feb 29]. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/
  4. Wirya, C. T., Wu, W., & Wu, K. (2017). Classification of Male-pattern Hair Loss. International journal of trichology, 9(3), 95–100. https://doi.org/10.4103/ijt.ijt_46_17