Hair loss and thinning in females can happen for a variety of reasons. Treatments can depend on the cause, but may include Minoxidil, light therapy, ketoconazole, and more.

There are various treatment options for female hair loss or female pattern baldness, including topical medications such as Rogaine. Other options include light therapy, hormone therapy, or, in some cases, hair transplants.

Eating a nutritious diet and maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help keep hair healthy.

This article lists and explains 10 treatment options for female hair loss.

A note about sex and gender

Sex and gender exist on spectrums. This article will use the terms “male,” “female,” or both to refer to sex assigned at birth. Click here to learn more.

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The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves Minoxidil to treat hair loss. Sold under the name Rogaine, as well as other generic brands, people can purchase topical Minoxidil over the counter. Minoxidil is safe for both males and females, and people report a high satisfaction rate after using it.

Minoxidil stimulates growth in the hairs and may increase their growth cycle. It can cause hairs to thicken and reduce the appearance of patchiness or a widening hair parting.

Minoxidil treatments are available in two concentrations: the 2% solution requires twice daily application for the best results, while the 5% solution or foam requires daily use.

While the instinct may be to choose the stronger solution, this is not always necessary. Research from 2018 and 2017 found that 2% minoxidil was effective for people with androgenetic alopecia or pattern baldness.

If a person finds success with minoxidil, they should continue using it indefinitely. When a person stops using minoxidil, the hairs that depended on the medication to grow will likely fall out within 6 months.

Side effects from minoxidil are uncommon and generally mild. Some females may experience irritation or an allergic reaction to ingredients in the product, such as alcohol or propylene glycol. Switching formulas or trying different brands may alleviate symptoms.

Some females may also experience increased hair loss at first when using minoxidil. This typically stops after the first few months of treatment as the hair strengthens.

Additionally, misapplying minoxidil or applying it to the forehead or too much of the neck may cause hair growth in these areas. Only apply minoxidil to the scalp to avoid these side effects.

Low-level light therapy may not be a sufficient treatment for hair loss on its own, but it may act to amplify the effects of other hair loss treatments, such as minoxidil.

Research from 2018 found that compared to control groups, adding low light therapy to regular 5% minoxidil treatment for androgenetic alopecia helped improve the recovery of the hair and the participants’ overall satisfaction with their treatment.

Further research is needed to help strengthen these results.

The drug ketoconazole may help treat hair loss in some cases, such as androgenetic alopecia, where inflammation of the hair follicles often contributes to hair loss.

One review from 2018 noted that topical ketoconazole might help reduce inflammation and improve the strength and look of the hair.

Ketoconazole is available as a shampoo. Nizoral is a well-known brand that can be purchased over the counter. Nizoral contains a low concentration of ketoconazole, but stronger concentrations will require a prescription from a doctor.

Some females may also respond to corticosteroid injections. Doctors use this treatment only when necessary for conditions such as alopecia areata. Alopecia areata results in a person’s hair falling out in random patches.

According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation (NAAF), injecting corticosteroids directly into the hairless patch may encourage new hair growth. However, this may not prevent other hair from falling out. Topical corticosteroids, which are available as creams, lotions, and other preparations, may also reduce hair loss.

Early evidence suggests that injections of platelet-rich plasma may also help reduce hair loss. A plasma-rich injection involves a healthcare professional drawing the person’s blood, separating the platelet-rich plasma from the blood, and injecting it back into the scalp at the affected areas. This helps speed up tissue repair.

A 2019 review noted that most studies suggest that this therapy reduces hair loss, increases hair density, and increases the diameter of each hair.

However, because most studies up until now have been very small, the review calls for more research using platelet-rich plasma for androgenic alopecia.

If hormone imbalances due to menopause, for example, cause hair loss, doctors may recommend some form of hormone therapy to correct them.

Some possible treatments include birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy for either estrogen or progesterone.

Other possibilities include antiandrogen medications, such as spironolactone. Androgens are hormones that can speed up hair loss in some women, particularly those with polycystic ovary syndrome, who typically produce more androgens.

Antiandrogens can stop the production of androgens and prevent hair loss. These medications may cause side effects, so always speak with a healthcare professional about what to expect and whether antiandrogens are suitable.

In some cases where other treatments are not effective, a healthcare professional may recommend hair transplantation. This involves taking small pieces of the scalp and adding them to the areas of baldness to increase the hair in the area naturally.

Hair transplant therapy can be more costly than other treatments and is not suitable for everybody.

Some minor hair loss may happen due to clogged pores on the scalp. Gently massaging shampoo into the scalp and resisting the urge to rub it into the hair when rinsing can help to prevent damage to hair, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD). They also recommend using conditioner each time after shampooing.

An older review from 2015 notes that using certain types of medicated shampoos may also help reduce and prevent hair loss. Avoiding damaging treatments such as heat, curling irons, and dyes may also help.

Read more about preventing hair loss.

Eating a healthful diet may support normal hair growth, as well. Typically, a healthful diet will contain a wide variety of foods, including many different vegetables and fruits. These provide many essential nutrients and compounds that help keep skin and hair healthy.

Learn more about other home remedies for hair growth.

Iron levels may also play a role in hair health. Females with hair loss can speak with a healthcare professional for a blood test to check if they have an iron deficiency. They may advise consuming an iron-rich diet or taking an iron supplement.

Learn more about iron deficiency and hair loss.

Massaging the scalp may increase circulation in the area and promote hair growth. Research from 2016 showed that regular scalp massage helped to make hair thicker. The researchers noted that this may be due to how scalp massage stimulates the tissues of the skin in the area.

The most common cause of hair loss in females is androgenetic alopecia, which has strong links to genetics and can run in families.

According to 2018 research, hair loss from androgenetic alopecia may start at a young age. Some females may begin losing their hair in their late teens or early 20s, though most females may not begin to lose their hair until their 40s or older.

Both males and females can develop androgenetic alopecia, but they experience it in different ways. Males tend to experience a receding hairline or bald spot on top of their head, while females tend to present different symptoms.

In females, the parting at the center of the hair often becomes more defined or wider. Their hair may also appear thinner or patchier overall.

These symptoms are due to a thinning of each hair strand. The hairs also have a shorter life cycle, and only stay on the head for a shorter period.

Female pattern hair loss is a progressive condition. Females may only notice a slightly wider parting in their hair at first, but as symptoms progress, this can become more noticeable.

Other forms of alopecia, such as alopecia areata, may cause one or more patches of complete baldness.

Other factors may play a role in hair loss, such as inflammatory conditions that affect the scalp and hormone imbalances. Healthcare professionals may want to investigate these possible causes if the person does not respond to typical treatments.

While losing hair at a young age may be concerning, hair loss is a reality for many people as they age. One study posted from 2018 noted that up to 75% of females would experience hair loss from androgenetic alopecia by the time they are 65 years old.

Many people accept hair loss as a natural part of the aging process.

Some people may choose to wear head garments or wigs as a way to cope with hair loss. Others work with their aging hair by wearing a shorter haircut that may make thin hair less apparent.

Hair loss can affect both males and females. Hair loss in females may have a range of causes, though the most common is androgenetic alopecia.

There are a variety of treatments for hair loss for females, including over-the-counter (OTC) hair loss treatments, which are generally effective. Anyone experiencing hair loss should consult with a healthcare professional who can diagnose any underlying factors.

If a healthcare professional believes there is another underlying cause or the person does not respond well to OTC treatments, they can recommend other treatment options.