Female Receding Hairline Solutions (FAQs)

Female receding hairline solutions are dependent on several factors. The main ones are the underlying cause of the problem and probably your personal preference. Mostly it has to do with pattern hair loss, also called androgenic alopecia which is the most common type of hair loss affecting men and women.

First off, is there any damage to the skin of your scalp?

Some types of hair loss occur when there is something wrong with the skin of the scalp. Changes of the skin on the scalp such as flaking, redness, itching /irritation, and scarring would make hair to fall out and stop growing. Sometimes damage to the scalp is severe, results in open sores. If you have one or some of these skin changes on your scalp, this may signal a group of conditions called as scarring hair loss.

Scarring hair loss can be attributed by several causes. Sometimes a negative reaction of hair products (e.g. a new shampoo or hair dye) could be a trigger. In case when your hair loss and scalp problem flared up after you started using a new hair product, discontinue using the product right away!

See a doctor if skin irritation or changes of your scalp doesn’t improve over a couple of weeks. It may take time to see your hair regrowth, even the improvement may not be noticeable after the affected scalp has completely recovered.

If you think your scalp problem has nothing to do with a new hair product, it probably is caused by something else. Other possible causes of scarring hair loss are as follows [1].

  1. Psoriasis, seborrhea, or other skin disorders.
  2. Fungal infections such as ringworm.
  3. Lupus or other connective tissue disorders.

The good news, with the right medical treatment, it’s treatable and hair will grow back normally afterwards. Treatment depends on what causes your scalp problem. For example if it’s caused by fungal infection, anti-fungal medication is required to get rid of the infection.

What if your scalp looks normal?

With normal, healthy scalp – it’s less likely that your hair loss has to do with skin conditions mentioned above. In such case, it’s not always easy to figure out the underlying cause of the problem. But your hair loss’s pattern would help a lot.

If you’re losing your hair just from certain places, especially such as your front hairline, pattern hair loss is likely to blame.

Female pattern hair loss is usually characterized by gradual, diffuse thinning of hair over the part line and crown. It rarely causes front hairline to recede. On the other hand, receding hairline is often associated with pattern hair loss in men. But this doesn’t mean that all women are free of it.

Women are less likely to bald following the male pattern hair loss. Although receding hairline in female pattern hair loss is very uncommon, it may occur if there are very high excessive androgens produced in the body.

We are born with a fixed number of hair follicles. At the base of these follicles, our hair grows for about 3 cm a month (this growth phase is called ‘anagen’, which usually lasts for years). After anagen phase, hair stops growing (catagen hair). Then it goes into a 3-month dormant phase (telogen). After telogen, a new hair grows and replaces the old hair. This cycle continues throughout our life.

With pattern hair loss, you’re going into an abnormal shortened hair growth cycle. With a shortened cycle, your hairs don’t obtain their usual length. You’re likely to have increased hair shedding, also called ‘telogen effluvium’. As a result, you would notice hair loss or thinning hair from certain places of your scalp.

Pattern hair loss is a genetic cosmetic issue. The risk of developing this hair loss increases if you have a family history of the same condition.

Female receding hairline (androgenic alopecia) solutions

Almost every woman would experience pattern hair loss in varying degrees, so you’re not alone. Women in any age group ‘after puberty’ can have it, though it is more commonly found around and after menopause.

In general, we can say that receding hairline is not more than a cosmetic issue. However, the problem could be more frustrating in women. It can factor into low self-esteem and feeling of unattractiveness. It often carries a greater impact with significant psychological stress than it does on men, because in fact it’s less socially plausible for women especially for those who live in a society that puts great value on attractiveness and youthful appearance.

Since it would have an effect on a woman’s emotional well-being and quality of life, treatment is usually necessary. Shedding hair period may last for months (around 3-6 months), then followed by 6-18 months stability periods. But if left untreated, the problem is likely to progress in severity and become advanced over the next few decades of life.

Currently, this type of alopecia has no cure. But a number of treatments are available to deal with.

Minoxidil (Rogaine)

This approved FDA hair loss solution can be used for men and women. Some experts say it’s less effective to treat receding hairline in men since it doesn’t target DHT (dihydrotestosterone), an androgen that is responsible for most cases of male pattern hair loss. But sometimes it’s recommended for female pattern hair loss.

In general, it’s thought that pattern hair loss has to do with the action of androgens (hormones for numerous body functions, including regulation of hair growth). Therefore it’s also called as androgenic alopecia.

But the story is probably different in women. Unlike male pattern hair loss, in which androgen have a role to cause the problem — the definitive role of these hormones in female pattern hair loss is still harder to understand.

For this reason minoxidil could be worth a try if you’re looking OTC hair loss solution. Although it doesn’t work for all cases of female pattern hair loss, some women find that it do carry improvement in their hair loss problem.

What studies say? Minoxidil was quite promising to help treat female pattern hair loss, according to a systematic review in 2012 [2].

You can find it as 2% to 5% solutions. It’s relatively safe for most women. Possible side effects include skin irritation, redness, dryness, or unexpected hair growth in the wrong areas. The use of stronger 5% solution will make side effects more likely. To keep safe, it’s good idea to always do a patch test first to see whether the product is safe to use.

Does it carry permanent result? No, it doesn’t! People usually need to use it in long term to sustain the benefits. It may work best if your pattern hair loss has nothing to do with a hormone imbalance.

Hormonal treatment (anti-androgens)

In case when the problem is caused by a hormone imbalance, which usually doesn’t respond to minoxidil, your dermatologist would usually suggest hormonal treatment. Hormonal treatment for female pattern hair loss is primarily aimed to reduce, control, or block the effects of androgens. Here anti-androgens could be your best solution!

Anti-androgens, such as spironolactone, may be prescribed along with minoxidil. This is particularly true if you have certain medical conditions that cause excess androgens in your body (PCOS, polycystic ovary syndrome for example).

A combination of minoxidil and spironolactone is quite promising.  According to a pilot study in 2018, a combination of 25 mg spironolactone and low dose 0.25 mg minoxidil may effectively improve hair density and reduce shedding in women with pattern hair loss [3].

Do hair transplantation and laser therapy work?

Hair transplantation for androgenic alopecia has been used since 1950s. This procedure removes a strip of scalp with healthy hair follicles (typically on the back of the head). So this treatment requires a stable donor site of the scalp.

Once removed, the narrow strip of your scalp is divided into hundreds of very small grafts. Then your specialist fills these grafts in a thinning or bald area.

Hair transplantation probably is the most effective way to treat receding hairline, though it’s costly. The results will last longer than other treatments. Even it may provide permanent results if the strip of healthy scalp is taken from very stable donor site. It often works successfully in men.

But the same doesn’t go for most women with pattern hair loss. Because many times, it’s difficult to find stable donor site!

How about low laser therapy? So far it’s difficult to find conclusive evidence to support the effectiveness of this treatment in female pattern hair loss. Even though there is already one device approved by the FDA for marketing, it seems further studies are required [4]!