Department of Dermatology and Allergy, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany, Division of Environmental Dermatology and Allergy, Helmholtz Zentrum München/TUM, ZAUM – Center for Allergy and Environment, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany, Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, Institute of Clinical Medicine, College of Medicine, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan, Taiwan, Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
Hair loss in elderly women has been becoming a major topic in the daily practice of dermatology. Aging of hair follicles seems to affect hair growth and pigmentation, the molecular mechanisms of which remain to be elucidated. Further senile changes in physiology and immunity may influence the onset and course of hair diseases. Some preexisting diseases such as androgenetic alopecia usually worsen after menopause, while others, like discoid lupus erythematosus, may attenuate. Hormone surveying, especially with regard to internal androgen-producing tumors, is indicated in postmenopausal women with androgenetic alopecia of sudden exacerbation or with unusual manifestation or other virilizing signs. The prevalence of alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis appears to be much lower in postmenopausal ages as compared to earlier onset. Acute or chronic telogen effluvium is not uncommonly superimposed on androgenetic alopecia. Trichotillomania shows a marked female predominance in the senile age group with a higher rate of psychopathology. Worldwide, tinea capitis has been increasingly observed in postmenopausal women. Frontal fibrosing alopecia, giant cell arteritis and erosive pustular dermatosis involve mainly elder women leading to scarring alopecia. Alopecia induced by tumor metastasis to the scalp must be considered in women with underlying neoplasms, especially breast cancer. Overall, hair loss in postmenopausal women is often multifactorial and warrants a close inspection.