Laser treatments are the latest frontier in staving off hair loss, and they’ll be the first choice for fans of sci-fi. As silly as they may sound, these treatments do work — the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in 2014 reported a “statistically significant difference” in hair density with no “serious adverse events” or side effects.The bad news: Laser treatments tend to be expensive, progress is slow, and they don’t always produce stellar results.
Another method is to wear a hat or a hairpiece—a wig or toupee. The wig is a layer of artificial or natural hair made to resemble a typical hair style. In most cases the hair is artificial. Wigs vary widely in quality and cost. In the United States, the best wigs—those that look like real hair—cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Organizations also collect individuals' donations of their own natural hair to be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other cancer treatment in addition to any type of hair loss.
If you're going through or about to enter the menopause, changes in your body may also have an effect on your hair. "Hair loss becomes more prevalent leading up to and after the menopause" reveals Anabel. That being said, "it's important to realise that our hair ages, and as we get older, hair naturally gets finer. It's a totally normal part of the ageing process."
With those pinned down, it wasn’t hard to determine which don’t actually work. Pretty much all the “active” ingredients listed in ineffective treatments — from biotin and zinc to emu oil and saw palmetto — have never been proven, and are instead marketed based on logical-seeming correlations. It would make sense that biotin, a B vitamin readily found in hair, skin, and nails, could help hair grow more quickly. And caffeine is a stimulant that works in coffee, so rubbing some on your scalp might wake some of those sleepy follicles… right?
Correct ferritin levels maximize your hair’s “anagen” or “growing” phase and encourage your hairs to grow to their full length. When you aren’t getting enough iron through your diet, your body takes ferritin stored in non-essential tissue, like your hair bulb, and gives it to essential tissue, such as your heart. Because your hair bulb is where all your hair cells are produced, this leeching of ferritin can cause your hair to shed before it reaches its maximum length.
A little farther up the follicle is the mysterious feature called the bulge. That's where follicle stem cells live. When they get the right set of chemical signals, these self-renewing cells divide. They don't divide like normal cells, in which both halves become new cells that keep splitting and developing. Only one half of the follicle stem cell does that. The other half becomes a new stem cell, and stays put for future regeneration.
Harklinikken (“hair clinic” in Danish) inspires great loyalty. Four out of five users come as referrals from satisfied customers, said Lars Skjoth, the company’s founder and chief scientist. The results are certainly compelling. After four months of daily application — that is, working the tea-colored tonic into the hair section by section, then letting it sit on the scalp for six hours — most users regain at least 30 percent of lost density, and some as much as 60 percent, according to company figures.
Harklinikken does not advertise, but the 25-year-old multinational company is beginning an aggressive expansion into the $3.6 billion hair-loss market in the United States, meaning you’re likely to hear a lot more about it. A New York clinic opened in June inside the Core Club in Midtown (you don’t need to be a member to get an appointment); and in August, Harklinikken consultations became available at some 70 Women’s Care Florida obstetrics and gynecology clinics. (Roughly 75 percent of the company’s 50,000 active users are female.)
George Cotserelis, MD, is director of the University of Pennsylvania's Hair and Scalp Clinic. He agrees that there's no evidence these alternative hair loss treatments have any effect. "If any of it did work," he says, "I'd be very worried about using that product. The fact that it’s working would mean it's doing something to the testosterone and could be having adverse effects."
Try balayam yoga. Balayam yoga (also called balam yoga) is an ancient acupressure exercise associated with hair growth. It comes from the Hindu words, Bal, which means hair, and Vyayam meaning exercise. The exercise involves rubbing the fingernails on both hands together to stimulate activity in the scalp. It has been known to help cure pattern baldness in men and women if done correctly and frequently over a long period of time.
Biotin, also known as B7 or H, is a water-soluble vitamin for hair loss. Biotin has been shown to promote hair growth, thicken the hair strand, and prevent hair loss. If your diet lacks B vitamins like Biotin, it may result in hair loss and you should take vitamins for hair growth or a hair growth supplement like Viviscal to nourish thinning hair with B vitamins and other essential nutrients for healthy hair growth.
Medications and vitamins: Cancer chemotherapy, which attacks hair follicles in its attempt to kill all fast-growing cells around the body, is a well-known reason for hair loss. Other medications’ side effects include hair shedding as well, such as some that treat high blood pressure and gout (a painful joint condition caused by a buildup of uric acid). Excessive levels of vitamin A also contribute.
You lose up to 100 hairs from your scalp every day. That's normal, and in most people, those hairs grow back. But many men -- and some women -- lose hair as they grow older. You can also lose your hair if you have certain diseases, such as thyroid problems, diabetes, or lupus. If you take certain medicines or have chemotherapy for cancer, you may also lose your hair. Other causes are stress, a low protein diet, a family history, or poor nutrition.
"Others are taking hair follicles out of human scalp and growing them with dermal papilla cells," Cotsarelis says. "If they grow in culture, you might be able to recombine them with skin cells and form new follicles. This would let you expand the number of follicles you get for a hair transplant. This may not be that far off -- five to 10 years, maybe. There's very good evidence you will be able to do that."
Female hair loss can have various causes. Thinning hair can be due to changes in your hormones and many women experience some degree of hair loss after pregnancy. In most cases, however, thinning hair occurs as you get older and it is hereditary. This type of hair loss is not dangerous and it does not usually indicate that you suffer from an underlying illness.
If you’re a gentleman who’s been noticing a receding hairline or is worried about balding, the first step is to schedule a visit with a doctor or dermatologist and make sure your hair loss isn’t a sign of a more serious health issue. “Not all hair loss is male-pattern hair loss,” explains Dr. Marc Glashofer, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss and practicing in northern New Jersey. A thyroid disorder, an autoimmune disease, or even a scalp issue could be making you look like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2. But most hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness, and fortunately (or not, depending on your perspective), it’s just a symptom of getting older.
It is likely that several genes determine susceptibility to baldness. Some of these genes come from your mother’s side and some from your father’s side of the family. Identical twins lose hair at the same age, at the same rate and in the same pattern. This indicates that genetic factors are more important than environmental factors in causing hair loss.
Finally, if these tests come back normal, your dermatologist may suggest a scalp biopsy of a couple of two-millimeter sections taken from your scalp under local anesthesia ($400 and up). It can determine whether genetic hair loss, telogen effluvium (a condition in which hair falls out from stress or rapid weight gain), or a disease (such as lupus) is the cause of your shedding, and your dermatologist can treat you accordingly.
The follicles on the sides of the scalp are more genetically resistant to DHT, which is why male pattern baldness often results in a “crown” of hair. But its downsides are serious. “With women, finasteride is not an option,” says Dr. Wolfeld. “It’s not FDA-approved for women to take, so we don’t prescribe it.” In fact, due to the drug’s effect on hormone levels, pregnant women are advised to not even touch broken or crushed tablets.
Laser treatments. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is used for the prevention and reversal of hair loss. Also known as red light therapy, cold laser, and soft laser, it is a form of light/heat treatment (therefore generally safer) that is used on cases of pattern baldness and alopecia areata. The procedure uses a device that emits light that penetrates into the scalp. The more commonly used lasers are the excimer, helium-neon and fractional erbium-glass. The procedure can increase the blood flow in the scalp to stimulate the follicles that are in resting or dormant phase to go into anagen, and at the same time, prevent the production of DHT, which destroys the hair follicles.
Hypotrichosis is a condition of abnormal hair patterns, predominantly loss or reduction. It occurs, most frequently, by the growth of vellus hair in areas of the body that normally produce terminal hair. Typically, the individual's hair growth is normal after birth, but shortly thereafter the hair is shed and replaced with sparse, abnormal hair growth. The new hair is typically fine, short and brittle, and may lack pigmentation. Baldness may be present by the time the subject is 25 years old.
Finasteride is the active ingredient in the men’s hair-loss treatment Propecia, which has been available in Australia since the late 1990s. One tablet a day will arrest further hair loss in over 95 per cent of men and stimulate partial hair regrowth in two thirds of men. Regrowth may be apparent at six months, but can take up to two years to be visible.
Hair transplant/surgery. A hair transplant or surgery is the quickest treatment for permanent cases of hair loss, although the most expensive. In pattern baldness, for example, where the top of the head is the most affected area, a hair transplant allows the surgeon to use existing hair to implant it into the bald sections of the head. It works by removing a graft or follicular sample in parts of the head that still have hair (usually this is the back of the head as this area is most resistant to hormonal changes), and placing this graft in the areas that are bald.
Alopecia areata - starts suddenly and causes hair loss in patches anywhere in the body in children and young adults. This condition is also known as ‘spot baldness’. This condition is observed to run in families and experts believe this condition could be the result of autoimmune disease, where the immune system of the body mistakenly attacks the hair follicles.
The more upsetting problem is central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, a type of baldness that starts at the crown of the head and spreads outward. "It's hugely, hugely difficult," said Susan Taylor, a dermatologist at Penn Medicine who specializes in treating women with CCCA. "It affects quality of life." She said it is seen "almost exclusively" in women of African descent. One study found it in 10 percent to 15 percent of black women, but Taylor thinks it's more common. "I could see women all day, every day, with this problem," she said.
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Its applications are many, and some researchers believe that it may help with hair loss from alopecia areata. How? The needles inserted into the scalp may help stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. More research needs to be done in this area, but consider asking your doctor for a referral to a licensed acupuncturist if this treatment sounds appealing to you. (Learn more about acupuncture for hair loss.)
Alopecia areata - bald patches develop on the scalp, beard, and possibly eyebrows. eyelashes may fall out as well. This is thought to be an autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the hair follicles and leads to hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body. However, the hair follicles are alive so there is potential for hair to regrow when the underlying problem has resolved. Growth may occur even without treatment and even after many years. In most cases hair loss only happens in a few places, leaving a few bare patches. In some cases though, the disease can advance to total loss of hair from the head (alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the head, face and body (alopecia areata universalis).
Aloe vera. Aloe vera is one of the most traditional and common natural hair loss treatments. It is known to possess enzymes that promote hair growth and a healthy scalp by regulating the hair and scalp's pH level. Known as a hair miracle, it is also used to treat other hair/scalp conditions like scalp itchiness, scalp redness, and inflammation. It also helps in minimizing dandruff and making the hair shinier and stronger.
Again, you’ll want to visit your doctor to get a blood test to check your levels in these vitamins. For example, women who have iron levels lower than 70 nanograms per milliliter are considered deficient. From there, work with your doctor to find an appropriate dose according to your deficiency level. Excessive or unnecessary supplementation can be dangerous.
^ Jump up to: a b Blumeyer, A; Tosti, A; Messenger, A; Reygagne, P; Del Marmol, V; Spuls, PI; Trakatelli, M; Finner, A; Kiesewetter, F; Trüeb, R; Rzany, B; Blume-Peytavi, U; European Dermatology Forum, (EDF) (October 2011). "Evidence-based (S3) guideline for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in women and in men". Journal of the German Society of Dermatology. 9 Suppl 6: S1–57. doi:10.1111/j.1610-0379.2011.07802.x. PMID 21980982.
Patterned hair loss is a progressive hair loss that occurs in a specific pattern. The pattern in men is different to the pattern in women. Men develop recession at the temples, thinning and eventually a bald spot on the top of the head (vertex scalp), then ultimately total baldness over the entire crown. Hair above the ears and at the back of the head is relatively spared.
Trichotillomania, classified as an “impulse control disorder,” causes people to compulsively pull their hair out. “It’s sort of like a tic, the person is constantly playing and pulling their hair,” says Dr. Glashofer says. Unfortunately, this constant playing and pulling can actually strip your head of its natural protection: hair. Trichotillomania often begins before the age of 17 and is four times as common in women as in men.