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Thin Hair In Older Women – Causes And Treatment Rules

Bald men are a familiar sight, but it is generally not well known that some women also suffer from a similar loss of hair, which usually begins after they are forty or fifty years old.In men, the characteristic cessation of normal hair growth and the beginning of a fine, downy, almost invisible growth of hair on certain areas of the scalp is linked to heredity and hormonal factors.

Some women undergo a similar process, but their hair only thins out and they do not become completely bald.  As with men, the tendency to thinning hair in women over forty is genetic, and can be passed along by either the mother or the father.  Sometimes this tendency can skip generations.Before determining that heredity is the cause of a patient’s thinning hair, the physician must first perform certain tests to rule out other factors.

Hair loss after a pregnancy, after a drastic diet and as a result of a serious internal illness will be diagnosed by a dermatologist and treated accordingly. Within the last few years a drug has been approved which may afford hope to men and women who suffer from genetically-caused hair loss.
This drug, based on a preparation used to reduce high blood pressure, is called minoxidil (brand names Minoxitrim, Regain, Hairgain), and is dispensed as a solution which is applied twice a day to the areas of the scalp where the hair is thin. Men have about a 30% chance of stopping hair loss and of growing new hair.

A study which was recently presented at a convention of the American Academy of Dermatology showed that of 600 women suffering from hair loss who used a 2% solution of minoxidil, 300 enjoyed a 40% increase in hair growth.  In an experiment which lasted for 32 weeks, the hairs per square centimeter of scalp were counted, and it was found that 27 new hairs per square centimeter grew on the scalps of women who had used the solution as opposed to only 15 new hairs for women who had used a solution not containing the active ingredient.  Very few side effects were noted.

About 2% of the women treated reported excessive hair growth on various parts of the body and there were isolated cases of skin inflammations and headaches.  It is important to remember that this drug lowers blood pressure and that the treatment is recommended only for healthy people.  The lotion has to be used for at least 6 months in order to determine if it has had any influence on the growth of the patient’s hair.  As of this writing only a dermatologist can prescribe the drug, and the patient’s blood pressure must be monitored and other laboratory tests must be performed every few months.

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