When men thin and bald, their hair follicles often go through a process called “miniaturization.” This means that those same follicles have, over time and with age, become negatively affected by DHT, androgens, waxy build up, or other inhibitors. The result is that over each shortened hair cycle, the shed hair that is replaced becomes less substantial. To put it plainly, what you get is thinner, finer hair each time so that eventually the hair becomes very fine or sickly looking until eventually it is either like peach fuzz or totally bald. There is a misconception that women typically will not suffer this same fate. While it’s becoming more and more acceptable that women too have genetic or androgen driven thinning or androgenic alopecia, people are less apt to believe that women also have miniaturization. Although this is the standard misconception, it often is just not true.
Women can and do have miniaturization and this process is becoming more and more common place. There are many theories as to why and how this happens. I will cover discuss this topic in the following article.
Women And Androgenic Alopecia And AGA. The Same Cause, But Sometimes A Different Presentation: Women have AGA or genetic thinning for the same reasons that men do. Some of us are just predisposed to becoming more sensitive to the androgens on our scalp as we age. This is becoming more and more common though although the cause for this is highly debated. Some think that, as we are evolving, we are become more and more sensitive to androgens. Some think that it has to do with preservatives or hormones in our food. And others think that this is stress related.
No matter what the cause, treatment can be tricky, because, despite what some may claim, there is no way to get rid of every drop of DHT on your scalp on a repetitive basis. Your body will continue to produce it (and many people with this type of androgenic alopecia produce low or normal amounts) and, if you do nothing, your scalp will continue to be overly sensitive to it. The result is that first you will have hair loss or shedding, but second, on down the road, you will likely experience some thinner, finer hair growing back.
Often, a woman will not have the same degree of her regrowth coming in as peach fuzz or eventually balding as the way that a man would (although this does sometimes happen.) Often, it absolutely does come in thinner, but the cosmetic results is often seeing more part line or more scalp or even an over all thinning and loss of volume. Sometimes, you’ll notice areas like the temples, top, and crown a bit more than other areas.
Some women see miniaturization on a diffuse level so that no one area looks much worse than another, but the over all effect is noticeable because the individual hairs are more thin. So you will see limp, flyaway hair that has a tendency to look or become oily because the individual strands are more fine and are much more easily weighed down.
How Do I Know If My Regrowth Has Miniaturized?: You probably have some indication that this is happening or could potentially happen or you would not have researched this topic. Often, seeing more scalp and noticing less coverage is the first clue that something may be going on.
The next thing that you can do is to pluck out a healthy, thick, fat hair (try getting this from the bottom, in the back, because this area is less affected by androgens.) Now place that hair on a very light or white surface so that you can easily see it. Now, find some typical looking regrowth and pluck that hair as well. Compare the two, by appearance, side by side. Is one hair thicker? Does the root look any different? (Often a hair effected by androgens will either have a sebum plug or a root that is much smaller and less noticeable than the one on the healthy hair.)
Next, grab the hair from the back first, hold it between your thumb and first finger and flick it up and watch it come down. It should come down quickly and decisively because it should have some weight to it. Repeat the process with the hair that you suspect is thinner. Some of these will flutter like a feather and take longer to come down because they are less weighty. It’s almost as if they are hollow inside.
Treatment: It’s important that you nip this in the bud as soon as you can because with each new regrowth cycle the problem is going to get worse and is going to get harder and harder to reverse. The first step in this is to treat the scalp. People with AGA often have a tight scalp with lots of inflammation because of their sensitivity. So, your goal is to reduce the inflammation and to relax the scalp.
Next, you’ll want to tackle the androgens. Many people will try to eliminate them, but as I said, it’s almost impossible to do this for the long term. They just keep being produced. It’s better to try to lessen them realistically and then to try to reduce the sensitivity.
Finally, you want to stimulate regrowth as best as you can and you want to make sure that the methods that you chose are both aggressive but gentle on your scalp because the last thing you need is more inflammation.