Diagnosing women’s hair loss can be difficult. Female hair loss is less common than male hair loss however it still affects millions of women around the world. Recent research shows that 52% of postmenopausal women have female pattern hair loss . Stress, health conditions, diet, haircare, and other factors can also cause hair loss in younger women.
Unlike male pattern baldness, diagnosing female hair loss isn’t a simple case of looking at the pattern of hair fall. Hair loss blood tests are often needed to diagnose thinning hair in women in order to find the hair loss treatment that works.
In this article, you’ll discover:
Genetic male hair loss follows a typical pattern which is the development of a receding hairline followed by the development of a bald spot on the crown. However, women’s hair loss rarely follows a pattern. Instead, women tend to experience hair loss/thinning across the scalp, which is known as diffuse thinning.
Diffuse thinning is a symptom of multiple hair loss conditions, including:
Since these hair loss types look similar, visual tests aren’t always the best way to diagnose them. The Ludwig Scale, for example, can only measure the extent of hair loss, rather than the type. Blood tests for hair loss in females are the fastest, most reliable way to determine the cause of hair loss in women.
Trichological blood tests measure several factors related to hair loss:
Here’s a rundown of each type of blood test and what it can show you about your hair.
Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) and hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) can cause hair loss if left untreated. Your thyroid produces hormones known as TSH, FT3 and FT4. A blood test measures how much of each hormone you’re producing, determining whether you have an overactive or underactive thyroid.
Sex hormone levels play a big part in maintaining hair growth in women as well as men. Women produce testosterone, which metabolises into DHT. DHT binds to androgen receptors in the hair follicles, causing them to shrink and stop producing hair.
As well as thyroid hormones, a blood test typically measures sex hormone levels, including:
Hormone levels can also indicate the presence of conditions like polycystic ovary syndrome, which has also been linked to hair loss.
Hair loss is a less common symptom of anaemia, or iron deficiency. There may also be a link between iron deficiency and hair texture.
Studies have shown that levels of serum ferritin (the blood protein that contains iron) are lower in women with female pattern hair loss than those with healthy hair . Lack of iron may also contribute to the development of alopecia areata . So testing your iron and ferritin levels can give an insight into which type of hair loss you have.
CBC or full blood count measures individual components of your blood, including red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. This can indicate signs of inflammation around the hair follicles, signaling an autoimmune condition which might be causing hair loss.
Lack of vitamin D has been linked with autoimmunity, so it may worsen or cause autoimmune hair loss conditions like alopecia areata . Research also suggests vitamin D deficiency can play a part in the progression of female pattern hair loss .
There are several different B vitamins, many of which have been linked with hair loss. These include:
Hair loss blood tests will check your vitamin B levels to test for deficiency.
The blood sugar level is an important indicator of diabetes. In particular, type 2 diabetes may be linked with hair loss. One study found that type 2 diabetes was associated with an increased risk of severe hair loss on the central scalp in African-American women .
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive proteins (CRP) levels can indicate systemic inflammation. Certain types of scarring alopecia are often associated with inflammation around the hair follicles.
In some cases, your GP will perform the necessary blood tests for you. Hair loss blood tests carried out through your GP are usually free.
However, a GP may not read the results in the same way as a trichologist. What’s considered normal for your general health may still be damaging your hair. Take your test results to a professional trichologist for further analysis.
You can also get blood tests done at a private hair clinic. Our trichology team can diagnose your hair loss condition based on your hair loss blood tests, regardless of your age, sex, or gender. We’ll then use this information to create a personalised female hair loss treatment plan for you.
A female hair transplant may be a possibility following your diagnosis. However, there are lots of other non-invasive treatments for hair growth to try first. Minoxidil and other hair transplant alternatives are often worth trying first. The trichology team at the Wimpole Clinic is available to provide all the impartial advice you need to help recover your hair.
To get your personalised treatment plan, book a consultation at the Wimpole Clinic.
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