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Androgenetic alopecia

The root cause of androgenetic alopecia is very different from that of occasional hair loss conditions. It thus demands a specific treatment.

Androgenetic alopecia in women and androgenetic alopecia in men: causes and differences

Androgenetic alopecia is a type of chronic hair loss lasting longer than six months. It is characterized by episodes of hair loss eventually leading to a miniaturization of the hair and a reduction in hair density. Baldness, the most common form of alopecia, affects primarily men, affecting 70% to 80% of them in their lifetime, compared to 29% to 42% of women. It usually begins in men between the ages of 30 and 40, but can affect younger men in their twenties as well. The cause of androgenetic hair loss is hormonal and involves the androgen receptors found in the dermal papilla. These receptors are stimulated by dihydrotestosterone, an active metabolite of testosterone. This stimulation of the androgen receptors in the hair follicle causes its miniaturization and the appearance of short, thin hair. 

Like in men, hair loss can be significant in women, resulting in a loss of volume overall. Most often, androgenetic alopecia in women, which begins between the ages of 20 and 40, is observed on the top of the head, appearing as a sort of “widening” of the mid-line part. This type of hair loss may also be localized around the temples or the hairline.

Female androgenetic alopecia: treatment and solutions

Although essentially a genetic condition, alopecia does not appear overnight. Rather, it develops slowly and can take months, or even years, to appear on the scalp. The following symptoms should be monitored for the earliest detection of androgenetic alopecia: dull hair, dandruff, itching of the scalp, oily hair, and even painful roots in some cases. Note that this type of hair loss is constant and persists over time, with the impression that some hairs do not grow back.

Different treatments are available for patients to alleviate the often irreversible effects of female androgenetic alopecia
  • A medicinal treatment is currently prescribed for female androgenetic alopecia in Europe and the United States: minoxidil to be applied directly to the scalp. (Another treatment, finasteride, is reserved for men only).
  • Hair transplants or grafts are another therapeutic alternative. The technique used and the results depend on the number of hairs being transplanted, the quality of the hairs, and the characteristics of the recipient area. 
  • Topical cosmetic products (shampoos and anti-hair loss lotions, for example) as well as dietary supplements with vitamins and minerals may be used in combination with medicinal treatments or as an adjuvant treatment. 
 * Source: Blume-Peytavi et al., 2011; Norwood, 1975

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Action against chronic hair loss

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