Female pattern baldness is usually different from that of male pattern baldness. The hair thins all over the head, but the frontal hairline is maintained. There may be a moderate loss of hair on the crown, but this rarely progresses to total or near baldness as it may in men.

Hair loss can occur in women for reasons other than female pattern baldness, including the following:

  • Temporary shedding of hair (telogen effluvium)
  • Breaking of hair (from such things as styling treatments and twisting or pulling of hair)
  • Patchy areas of total hair loss (alopecia areata — an immune disorder causing temporary hair loss)
  • Medications
  • Certain skin diseases
  • Hormonal abnormalities
  • Iron deficiency
  • Under-active thyroid
  • Vitamin deficiency

Female pattern baldness is usually diagnosed based on the appearance and pattern of hair loss and by ruling out other causes of hair loss.A skin biopsy or other procedures may be used to diagnose medical disorders that cause loss of hair.

Analysis of the hair itself is not accurate for diagnosing nutritional or similar causes of hair loss, although it may reveal substances such as arsenic or lead.

Female pattern baldness is of obvious cosmetic importance but does not indicate a medical disorder, it can affect self-esteem or cause anxiety. The hair loss is usually permanent.