Context: Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) also known as female androgenetic alopecia is a common condition afflicting millions of women that can be cosmetically disrupting. Prompt diagnosis and treatment are essential for obtaining optimal outcome. This review addresses the clinical presentation of female pattern hair loss, its differential diagnosis and treatment modalities.
Evidence acquisition: A) Diffuse thinning of the crown region with preservation of the frontal hairline (Ludwig's type) B) The "Christmas tree pattern" where the thinning is wider in the frontal scalp giving the alopecic area a triangular shaped figure resembling a christmas tree. C) Thinning associated with bitemporal recession (Hamilton type). Generally, FPHL is not associated with elevated androgens. Less commonly females with FPHL may have other skin or general signs of hyperandrogenism such as hirsutism, acne, irregular menses, infertility, galactorrhea and insulin resistance. The most common endocrinological abnormality associated with FPHL is polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS).
Results: The most important diseases to consider in the differential diagnosis of FPHL include Chronic Telogen Effluvium (CTE), Permanent Alopecia after Chemotherapy (PAC), Alopecia Areata Incognito (AAI) and Frontal Fibrosing Alopecia (FFA). This review describes criteria for distinguishing these conditions from FPHL.
Conclusions: The only approved treatment for FPHL, which is 2% topical Minoxidil, should be applied at the dosage of 1ml twice day for a minimum period of 12 months. This review will discuss off-label alternative modalities of treatment including 5-alfa reductase inhibitors, antiandrogens, estrogens, prostaglandin analogs, lasers, light treatments and hair transplantation.
Keywords: Alopecia, Therapy; Alopecia, physiopathology; Androgen antagonist, Therapeutic Use; Female; Minoxidil; Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.