Signs and Symptoms

-“My ponytail feels smaller!”

Many women who wear their hair up will report an appreciable difference in the thickness of their ponytail. Previously they were only able to twist an elastic band once or twice, but now they have to twist it 3 or 4 times in order to achieve the same tension on their ponytail.  If this has happened over a period of greater than 6-12 months, it may reflect a long-standing inherited female pattern thinning.

-“I can’t style it the same anymore”

Men and women alike complain that there is a distinct change in texture as hair thins. This can feel like hair is more limp, more fragile, gets weighed down more easily with product, or is harder to cover the scalp. If this problem has been going on for over a year now, and there are no major physiologic stressors you can identify, you may have early female or male pattern hair loss.

-“My hair is coming out in clumps”

When the hair is coming out in large handfuls or collects as wads in the shower drain, you may be suffering from a temporary form of hair loss called telogen effluvium. This is especially likely if the hair has only been shedding for 6 or fewer months. You should consider whether there are any major physiologically stressful events in your life that might explain your hair loss. Otherwise, consider seeing your doctor for a workup of possible medical causes for your hair loss.

-My family says they can see my scalp!

The most common presentation of female pattern hair loss is a localized miniaturization of hairs in the frontal 1/3-2/3 of the scalp. For most women the frontal hairline stays intact. What is unfair about this is that for a large number of women the hair stays very thick in the back of the scalp. These women may benefit from hair transplant surgery, which involves moving the hairs from areas of greater density to areas of lower density. However it is still essential to continue to prevent hair thinning using a therapy such as topical treatment.

-Every time I comb it, hair falls out!

The simple act of combing hair can often result in a distressing amount of hair loss or hair shedding. Most persons who start using a medical therapy such as topical treatment will report in a significant decrease in daily shedding after just a few weeks to months of use.