Anna Liachenko, BSc, MSc
Aging is associated with hair loss, which may cause considerable anxiety and distress in an elderly patient. The general belief is that aging men are much more prone to hair loss than aging women. The belief is due to the frequently observed receding hairline known as "male-pattern baldness". In reality, aging women also experience significant hair loss but in a much less visible pattern. Hair loss in women generally goes "unnoticed". Nonetheless, possibly due to the belief that women do not bald, female patients are much more likely than their male counterparts to fear alopecia and to develop related psychiatric problems. Thus, it is important for physicians to explain to female patients the age-related changes in hair physiology and to inform them about the potential causes as well as available measures for prevention and treatment of balding.
Several age-related changes are responsible for the decreased hair volume in the elderly. Between early and late adulthood, the linear growth rates of hair decrease by approximately 30 to 50 percent. Women in particular experience a significant decline in growth of axillary hair after the fourth decade. Also, many hair follicles undergo gradual atrophy or fibrosis.
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