I sometimes hear from people who have been told or suspect that they have AGA or androgenetic alopecia, but they do not have the exact presentation that they’d expect. They may have read that the hair and scalp can become oily and greasy with this condition, but they’re noticing just the opposite. In fact, their hair appears more dry than ever before. So they begin to question their diagnosis and hair presentation.
Someone might say, “my hair started falling out over a year ago. I am relatively young and I am a woman, so I assumed that my hair loss was telogen effluvium. However, when the shedding didn’t stop after about 8 months, I went to a doctor. The doctor noticed that my hair loss was patterned rather than diffuse, so he told me that I probably have AGA rather than TE. I did not want this diagnosis, of course, but I can’t deny that there is a definitely a pattern to my loss. The doctor prescribed rogaine and I am not sure how much it is helping. One thing I do notice is that my hair and scalp are not oily. Most of the articles that I read about AGA indicate that there is sebum which manifests itself through oil. I do not seem to have this because my hair is actually dry. Is it possible that my diagnosis is wrong, then?”
Anything is possible. However, I have heard from and witnessed folks who have had dry hair with AGA (and rogaine can be very drying.) But I have also seen people who have lost so much hair from TE that once the diffuse loss has thinned the hair, the loss then appeared to be patterned because areas like the temple and crown are more noticeable when there is already extensive diffuse loss. I definitely had some severe loss at my temples when I had severe CTE. I also did have a bit of miniaturization, but it was not patterned. I could find miniaturized hairs on the side of my head and at the nape of my neck, which are not high androgen areas.
I think that regardless of WHY you have hair loss, you might be seeing dry hair because as hair sheds or miniaturizes, the hairs that are affected are no longer being actively nourished by the follicle. As a result, they suddenly appear dry. This happens with TE as well as AGA. So yes, you can sometimes see dry scalp or dry hair in some cases with androgen driven hair loss, and rogaine can make this worse, but you should still seek out a second opinion if you aren’t comfortable with the diagnosis.
I used rogaine for a short time when I had CTE and I did notice a drying effect. After a while, I really did not find it to be helpful, so I moved on to more natural topicals. However, I did not have AGA and I know that rogaine can be very effective in some people with that condition. Everyone is different as to what helps them and what doesn’t. You can read more on my blog at http://stop-hair-loss-in-women.com/