hair loss in women

Hair Loss at the Side of the Scalp

What are the causes of hair loss at the side of the scalp?

There are many potential causes of hair loss in women. Women presenting with hair loss typically have a greater array of potential diagnoses than men presenting with hair loss.

It is important to understand the causes of hair loss at specific spots on the scalp. Hair loss in the front of the scalp has a list of top causes. The same is true with hair loss at the back, sides and top of the scalp.

So what are the most common causes of hair loss at the side of the scalp (the area just above the ears)?

The top 5 causes of hair loss at the side of the scalp include:

1. Female genetic hair loss
Women with genetic hair loss usually have thinning in the centre of the scalp. The hair strands become finer. Unlike men (where thinning rarely extends to the sides), thinning in women can often become diffuse.

2. Scarring Alopecia (Frontal fibrosing alopecia, Lichen planopilaris and others)
Autoimmune conditions like frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA) and lichen planopilaris (LPP) cause permanent hair loss. FFA causes hair loss at the front of the scalp and typically this extends around to the sides and even the back of the scalp. This photo shows typical FFA- if you look close there is redness around the hair follicles, which is a feature not present in the other diagnoses listed here.

3. Alopecia areata
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition that affects 2 % of women. Unlike many of the other causes listed here has a propensity to affect younger ages. Hair regrowth is possible for many patients with treatment and even spontaneously.

4. Telogen effluvium
Telogen effluvium refers to hair shedding. Some causes of this are low iron, thyroid problems, crash diets, stress and medications. Hair loss occurs "diffusely" meaning all over - and the side of the scalp can be affected.

5. Traction alopecia
Traction alopecia is hair loss from tight pulling of hair. Braids, weaves, cornrows, ponytails, hair extensions all have the potential to cause traction. Hair loss at the sides is common with extensions and weaves.

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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