By far, the most common and distressing form of alopecia is androgenetic alopecia (AA). AA is the hair loss seen in men as they get older as well as the hair loss seen in women as a result of a reduction in female hormones in menopause/pre-menopause. It can be caused by hormonal disorders in younger women. In both males and females, androgenetic alopecia has a genetic component. Although it is impossible to totally prevent androgenetic alopecia, steps can be taken to slow down the loss of hair and to regain some of the hair that has been lost.
The reduction of estrogen and progesterone as well as the relative increase in androgens (testosterone and DHT) in menopause play a key role in female with androgenetic alopecia. Estrogen maintains the hair follicle size, and as those levels decline, the hair follicle becomes smaller and smaller which produces a thinner and shorter hair as time goes on. Hair loss that appears in a diffused pattern in the crown of the scalp is different than that of male-pattern hair loss. Early hormone replacement therapy before the hair follicle miniaturizes is key to successful treatment.
In addition to hormone replacement therapy, key oral medications, vitamins, minerals, and amino acids are essential to the stabilization of hair loss and stimulating new hair growth. Commonly used prescription medications used to treat alopecia include spironalactone (Aldactone), oral contraceptives, finasteride (Propecia), metformin, flutamide, and Viviscal MD. Minoxidil and Nizoral shampoo creams are popular topical therapies.
Additional alopecia treatments we offer at Retief Skin Center include local steroid shots to stimulate new hair growth and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections to thicken the existing hair. Light therapy known as low level light therapy (LLLT) can be helpful if used daily at home. Studies have shown up to a 37% increase in hair growth with LLLT when used three to four times per week for 20 to 30 minutes. Capillus LLLT cap and LaserCap are commonly used LLLT devices used and can be bought online.
Lastly, hair transplants have evolved to be a very successful way to treat alopecia. This treatment is not performed at Retief Skin Center, but we will happily refer you to reputable local clinic that specializes in this procedure.