Hair loss is an unpleasant cosmetic defect that is hard enough to hide from others. There are several reasons for increased hair loss, however, the most common of them is androgenic alopecia, which is less common in women than in men. This is a hormonal disease, in which the content of male hormones (androgens) increases or the sensitivity of skin cells to them increases.
What are androgens?
As already mentioned, these are hormones that are necessary for the normal functioning of the body and its development according to the “male” type. It is thanks to androgens in men:
- stronger muscles than women;
- rougher voice;
- mammary glands are not developed;
- a certain distribution of hair – the presence of a beard, sideburns, hair on the chest and
In small quantities, these hormones are contained in the female body. They are involved in maintaining normal blood sugar levels, regulate the work of estrogen (female hormones) and perform a number of other metabolic functions.
Androgens are conditionally divided into strong and weak. The first group includes testosterone. Its weakened counterpart is dehydroepiandrosterone. Both hormones are important in the development of alopecia.
The life cycle of a hair is a rather complicated process, which is regulated by a large number of hormones. It can be divided into two stages:
- Growth phase It can last from 3 to 10 years. At this time, hair growth is stimulated by various substances, which are denoted by a single term – growth factors;
- Phase of involution or fallout. It must last at least 100 days so that there is no cosmetic defect. It is important to note that normally the hair follicle should not be damaged during this stage. Only the root of the hair is subject to decay.
In the skin of the scalp there is a special enzyme (5-alpha reductase) that turns androgens into the active form (dihydrotestosterone). Due to this, they can affect both phases of the hair cycle.
If the amount of hormones increases above normal, or the cells become more sensitive to them, androgenic alopecia occurs. In the first phase, androgens block growth factors, due to which the life cycle of the hair is significantly reduced (up to several months or even weeks). In the phase of involution, an increased hormone content can damage the hair follicle, which is manifested by increased hair loss.
Risk factors for hair loss
Currently, the following risk factors are identified:
- Male sex – it is reliably known that this hormonal disease occurs in men 4 times more frequent than in women;
- Age – after 50 years, every second man and every fourth woman suffer from androgenic alopecia;
- Heredity – if the family had this disease or unexplained hair loss by one of the close relatives, the probability of the development of this pathology in subsequent generations is about 70-80%;
- Hormonal stress – the rearrangement of hormonal levels may be the cause in some patients. These conditions include: pregnancy; taking drugs containing male sex hormones; use of testosterone stimulants (as doping) and
If you note the presence of one of the risk factors and the characteristic signs of androgenic alopecia, you should contact a dermatologist, who will prescribe the necessary examination and confirm / refute the diagnosis.
Symptoms of Alopecia
The manifestations of this disease are somewhat different, depending on gender, severity of symptoms and the presence of additional symptoms. But when it affects only the hair of the frontal and parietal regions of the head. It is these areas of the skin that are most sensitive to male hormones.
In women, the following symptoms may occur:
- Thinning hair in the parietal and frontal areas. Total hair loss is usually not observed;
- Violation of the menstrual cycle – androgens counteract the female sex hormones, because of which the regulation of menstrual function in women is disturbed;
- Acne rash of any localization (typically on the face and on the back);
- Hirsutism – hair growth in places atypical for the female body (in the area of the chin, cheeks, chest, back and
In men, the manifestations of this disease are usually limited to hair loss in the frontal and parietal areas.
The diagnosis can be made without laboratory diagnosis, since in some patients the content of hormones in the blood remains within the normal range. If the doctor has doubts regarding the true cause of hair loss, the following indicators can be investigated: