You would be surprised to learn that about 40% of all women experience some form of hair fall before they turn 30.
Even more shocking is the fact that about two-thirds of all women post-menopause have bald spots and hair thinning problems.
The idea here is not to scare you off. Hair fall has become a major problem for women and the earlier you deal with this, the better can you save your hair strands.
The main biological reason for hair is to protect the body from extreme heat and cold and to protect from ultraviolet radiation. However, now hair is considered an aesthetic factor and lustrous, thick, and shiny hair is something every woman is after.
If you suffer from extreme hair fall or notice thinning of hair, one of the most common drugs suggested is Minoxidil. This is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) agency approved medication that is available over-the-counter.
Should you always worry about hair fall?
Hair fall is a common phenomenon that all human beings experience. Your hair goes through different phases in its lifetime. The 4 common stages you should know about are these.
- Anagen or growth phase
- Catagen or regression phase
- Telogen or resting phase
- Exogen or shedding phase
Hairs grow, they mature, rest and then fall off, giving space for new hairs to develop.
In this process, losing an average of 50-100 hairs a day is absolutely normal. However, when you start noticing clumps of hair falling when you shower or comb or if you see your hair strands getting thinner by the day, you could be suffering from hair loss.
What’s female pattern hair loss?
Female pattern hair loss is also called androgenetic alopecia.
Pattern hair loss or pattern baldness is a condition where hair loss follows a certain pattern instead of being random. Observing the pattern is the first thing dermatologists do when you consult them for hair loss.
Pattern hair loss is facilitated by two major factors.
- Increase in male sex hormones
While pattern baldness is very common and noticeable in men, an equal number of women also experience this. A study published in the late 2000s mentions that less than 45% of women enjoy a full head of hair throughout their lifetime. Female pattern hair loss is one of the most common reasons for hair loss in adult women and the condition becomes worse as the woman ages.
How is female pattern baldness different from male pattern baldness?
In men, the characteristic sign of pattern baldness is receding hairline. Hair loss usually starts above the temples and the growth of hair slowly takes up an ‘M’ shape with the top of the head balding out or having thin and fine hair.
Women very rarely get bald because of pattern hair loss. Instead, they start experiencing thinning of hair at the parting line and slowly the scalp starts showing out. Women also do not experience receding hairline in most cases. There are three stages of female pattern baldness depending on the intensity of hair loss.
- Type 1 with minimal thinning
- Type 2 with very fine hair growth and partly visible scalp around the parting line
- Type 3 with completely visible scalp in the midline
This thinning of hair and visible scalp can make most women self-conscious and very worried. The sad but true part is that balding and hair loss in men is more accepted and taken lightly than in women.
If you are looking for an effective treatment for pattern hair loss, then Minoxidil could work for you. Here are some basics about this drug.
Minoxidil – the basics
- Generic medication
- Available in the form of foams, solutions, and capsules
- Was originally created to control high blood pressure
- Only topical hair fall product that is approved by the FDA to be sold without the need for prescriptions
- Was first proven to treat male pattern baldnessand was then adopted for women
How does Minoxidil work?
Minoxidil is a drug that opens up potassium channels. This means that it lets ions transmit through these channels into the body. This helps muscles and blood vessels relax and that was why Minoxidil was considered a solution for hypertension. However, by relaxing blood vessels, this also seems to allow more oxygen and nutrients to flow to the hair follicles.
When hair follicles receive more blood, oxygen, and nutrients, the follicles that are in the resting phase (telogen phase) quickly sheds and the anagen phase starts. The anagen phase is the phase that promotes healthier and thicker hair growth. When this phase is active, your hair grows about 1 cm in a month.
In simple terms, Minoxidil can encourage your hair follicles to enter the anagen phase early on. This way, your hair will rush through the resting and shedding phase and quickly start growing back healthily again.
How To Use Minoxidil
If you are going to pick up Minoxidil capsules or tablets for consumption, it is always advised to check with your doctor before you do this.
New drugs can interfere with your existing medication and can cause unpleasant side-effects.
If you want to try out the foam or the solution packs, usage is quite simple.
Once your hair and scalp are both dry, pick up the formula with a dropper and apply on the area where you notice spot balding or pattern hair fall.
If you have a spray bottle, then simply spray on the area. Now massage the product to ensure it reaches deep into the follicle ends. You can now let the product air-dry for a few minutes.
For effective hair growth, you should be doing this 2 times a day. Make sure the solution does not touch any other part of your skin. Wipe with a clean cloth if it spills down. A one-year observational studyon the effects of 5% Minoxidil shows promising results in hair fall reduction.
How soon will you see results?
Minoxidil is not a magical drug. You cannot expect your hair to start growing within a few times of application. However, most women start noticing visible results in about 8 weeks of time.
The maximum effect will be seen in about 4 months and people around will start complimenting you on the density and length of your hair.
Is Minoxidil completely safe?
While the FDA has approved the generic sale of Minoxidil as an over-the-counter medication because it is considered safe, there can be a few unpleasant side-effects that some people can face.
The application of Minoxidil on the scalp can result in dryness and itching in some women. Always do a patch test before using the product.
Change in hair color
For some women, the newly grown hair can have a different shade than the hairs around and this may not be something women want aesthetically.
The 5% Minoxidil solution is quite strong and when it spills on your cheeks or shoulders while application, it may trigger unwanted hair growth in these areas.
You will have to remember that Minoxidil is only used and preferred for female pattern hair loss/baldness. If you are suffering from hair loss due to other reasons like stress, under-nourishment, or health issues, do not pick up this product.
Understand the root cause of hair fall and work on rectifying the condition. It is also to be noted that you will have to continue using Minoxidil to prevent further hair loss. For many women, stopping the product has resulted in the recurrence of the condition.