We've heard it all before: clients waking up one day in shock after discovering a coin-sized bald spot on their heads; women agonizing over the strands of hair they see on the shower floor; men looking for topical creams and shampoos to prevent the early onset of balding. Even more are tales of men and women on the search for the perfect wig or toupee to cover up the loss of their hair as a result of medication for a chronic illness.
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.
The truth is, the amount of propylene glycol in hair loss treatments is not likely to cause any real harm and the FDA has given the chemical approval for many uses. But even though it is safe, we wanted to ensure that our top picks would be as comfortable to use as possible. So when Dr. Khadavi told us that “a third of my patients get irritated from minoxidil products because of propylene glycol,” we decided to cut any treatments with it. In any case, it’s the minoxidil that helps curb hair loss and not the propylene glycol.
The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women. Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone that men have, but even a lower level can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women. And certainly when those levels rise, DHT is even more of a problem. Those levels can rise and still be within what doctors consider “normal” on a blood test, even though they are high enough to cause a problem. The levels may not rise at all and still be a problem if you have the kind of body chemistry that is overly sensitive to even its regular levels of chemicals, including hormones.
Once male-pattern baldness starts, it’s not going to stop until every last hair on your head has shrunk or shed, though the rate at which this happens differs from person to person and depends on genetics. And since the grind of hair loss is unending, it’s important to start treatment as soon as your hairline starts bothering you. If you’re looking for a more quantitative metric, Dr. Paul McAndrews, clinical professor of dermatology at the USC School of Medicine and member of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery, assures me that “you have to lose half your hair before the human eye can tell.” (Of course, if you don’t care about losing your hair and are fine with going full Prince William and shaving your head, go for it. We’ve got some recommendations for razors and hair trimmers to help you out on that front.)
Involutional alopecia. This one is less of a medical condition (it's not caused by a disease or genetics) and is more concerned with the hair growth cycle. Also called telogen effluvium, this condition is marked by a long dormant phase of telogen than growth or anagen. This type of hair loss is the second most common next to pattern baldness but is also the most unpredictable and difficult to pinpoint its cause. Studies have shown that the dormancy phase in the hair growth cycle is related to a range of factors, including hormonal imbalances, pregnancy in women, stress, diet, etc.
If you’re a lady and can remember the one difference in directions (or just scope out the instructions online) we recommend saving the cash. Similarly, you could go generic with Equate Hair Regrowth Treatment for Men or Costco’s Kirkland Signature Hair Regrowth Treatment Minoxidil Foam for Men. These alternatives offer the same percentage of active minoxidil and near-identical inactive ingredients for as little as half the price — a great option for both genders.
You might be wondering why there are so many men walking around with significant hair loss, especially considering there are a number of remedies out there that can slow down or stop male pattern baldness completely. The biggest reason is a lack of education about which hair loss treatments actually work. There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding hair loss remedies, and most of it’s from armchair experts who boldly claim that their all-natural, homeopathic methods are guaranteed to promote hair growth and stop baldness (spoiler alert: they don’t).
One hair loss tablet that targets hormones is Propecia. This targets a specific androgenic hormone (male sex hormone) named dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is present throughout the body, and prompts the growth of hair and spurs sexual development around puberty. However, in later years, it binds to hair follicles and causes them to shrink, occluding hair shafts and making healthy hair growth impossible.
The dermatologist also will carefully look at your scalp and hair. During an exam, the dermatologist may pull on your hair. Sometimes a dermatologist needs to pull out a hair to get the necessary evidence. And sometimes a dermatologist needs to look at the hair on the rest of your body to see whether there is too little or too much hair in other areas.
While trauma can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, you may be able to help manage ongoing stress in your life with exercise, like yoga, or mindfulness techniques, like meditation. Some researchers are even exploring these alternative healing modalities in relation to reversing hair loss. The idea is that yoga and meditation may help regulate blood sugar and enhance circulation, promoting regrowth.
Other causes for hair loss or hair thinning can be stress, illness, poor diet, hormone imbalance or your body going into shock. Certain diseases and intensive medical treatment such as chemotherapy are also likely to result in hair loss, but it is best to consult your GP if you go bald at an alarmingly fast rate, especially if you have no family history of male pattern baldness.
However, researchers are still working to determine the best dose needed, whether the results are lasting, and whether they can develop a topical form of the drug, Day said. She added that patients should be aware that Tofacitinib has side effects. It's already associated with an increased risk of serious infections, as well as stomach and intestinal tears, according to Pfizer, the manufacturer.