JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Female pattern hair loss

Archana Singal, Sidharth Sonthalia, Prashant Verma
Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology 2013, 79 (5): 626-40
23974580
Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is a common cause of hair loss in women characterized by diffuse reduction in hair density over the crown and frontal scalp with retention of the frontal hairline. Its prevalence increases with advancing age and is associated with significant psychological morbidity. The pathophysiology of FPHL is still not completely understood and seems to be multifactorial. Although androgens have been implicated, the involvement of androgen-independent mechanisms is evident from frequent lack of clinical or biochemical markers of hyperandrogenism in affected women. The role of genetic polymorphisms involving the androgen and estrogen receptors is being increasingly recognized in its causation and predicting treatment response to anti-androgens. There are different clinical patterns and classifications of FPHL, knowledge of which facilitates patient management and research. Chronic telogen effluvium remains as the most important differential diagnosis. Thorough history, clinical examination, and evaluation are essential to confirm diagnosis. Patients with clinical signs of androgen excess require assessment of biochemical parameters and imaging studies. It is prudent to screen the patients for metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors. The treatment comprises medical and/or surgical modalities. Medical treatment should be initiated early as it effectively arrests hair loss progression rather than stimulating regrowth. Minoxidil continues to be the first line therapy whereas anti-androgens form the second line of treatment. The progressive nature of FPHL mandates long-term treatment for sustained effect. Medical therapy may be supplemented with cosmetic concealment in those desirous of greater hair density. Surgery may be worthwhile in some carefully selected patients.

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