Drugs.com provides accurate and independent information on more than 24,000 prescription drugs, over-the-counter medicines and natural products. This material is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Data sources include IBM Watson Micromedex (updated Nov 1st, 2018), Cerner Multum™ (updated Nov 1st, 2018), Wolters Kluwer™ (updated Oct 31st, 2018) and others. To view content sources and attributions, please refer to our editorial policy.
Just like pregnancy, birth control pills mess with your hormone levels, causing them to fluctuate. In response, you might experience hair loss. “Hormones can interrupt the natural pattern of the hair cycle, causing hairs to shed more quickly than usual or to grow with less vigor,” explains Dominic Burg, PhD, chief scientist for Advangen. Oftentimes the hormone responsible for this is an androgen, such as testosterone, which is why the American Hair Loss Association recommends low-androgen birth control pills for those who are at an increased risk for hair loss.
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.)
You can also get a hair-loss kit from Hims, which comes with both minoxidil and finasteride. Keeps has one, as well. And though it might seem like overkill to take two different hair-loss treatments at once, this is one of those rare instances where more is actually better. McAndrews calls the combination of orally administered finasteride and topically applied minoxidil a “full-court press” against hair loss. “That’s doing the most you can for preventative medicine.” Rieder notes that taking both drugs together is more effective than taking either one alone.
Coconut milk / coconut oil. Coconut milk/oil, like aloe vera, is one of the oldest and most common natural ingredients for promoting hair growth and growing healthy, shiny hair. Coconut is rich in protein, iron and other minerals that promote healthy hair and prevent breakage. Apply the coconut milk/oil on your bald spots or all over the scalp, and leave it on overnight. Rinse the next day with cool water. You can do this every time you wash your hair.
Certain other classes of medication may also promote hair loss. More common among them are certain blood thinners and the blood-pressure drugs known as beta-blockers. Other drugs that might cause hair loss include methotrexate (used to treat rheumatic conditions and some skin conditions), lithium (for bipolar disorder), nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) including ibuprofen, and possibly antidepressants.
Periods of prolonged or severe illness can affect the hair. “As with extreme stress and extreme diets, this also comes down to the body preserving its energy balance and shutting down non-essential functions in order to battle the illness more effectively,” Berg says. “In fact, physicians have used an inspection of the fingernails and hair quality as part of standard examinations of overall health for many years. Changes in these features provide some clues about the length and severity of illness.” Other diseases, such as diabetes and lupus, can also cause hair loss. Check out these other things your hair can reveal about your health.

Congenital triangular alopecia – It is a triangular, or oval in some cases, shaped patch of hair loss in the temple area of the scalp that occurs mostly in young children. The affected area mainly contains vellus hair follicles or no hair follicles at all, but it does not expand. Its causes are unknown, and although it is a permanent condition, it does not have any other effect on the affected individuals.[24]
The only nonchemical option offered up by the dermatologists I spoke with — short of a surgical hair transplant or platelet-rich plasma therapy, which is like Kim Kardashian’s vampire facial but for your scalp — was the laser comb. First cleared by the FDA in 2009, the HairMax LaserComb is a handheld laser device that is designed to promote hair growth. As the manufacturer explains in a letter to the FDA, “The device provides distributed laser light to the scalp while the comb teeth simultaneously part the user’s hair to ensure the laser light reaches the user’s scalp,” which, in turn, stimulates the hair follicles.
Androgenetic alopecia. Among adults, the most common cause of hair loss is androgenetic (pronounced: an-druh-juh-NEH-tik) alopecia. This is sometimes called male- or female-pattern baldness. This condition is caused by a combination of things, including a person's and hormones called androgens. This kind of hair loss can sometimes start as early as the mid-teen years. It also can happen to people who take steroids like testosterone to build their bodies.
Oral contraceptives reduce the production of ovarian androgens, so can be used to treat female pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). However, your doctor needs to access the risks, considering your medical and lifestyle history, and needs to decide whether oral contraceptives are appropriate for you. Only oral contraceptives with low androgen index should be used to treat androgenetic alopecia. High androgen index pills can actually cause hair loss.

Hair loss vitamins such as Biotin, Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin C, and minerals for hair loss such as Zinc and Iron, provide essential hair nutrients to nourish healthy and longer hair. Eating enough of these key hair growth vitamins can help prevent hair loss in both men and women. Although some causes of hair loss, such as chemotherapy, illness and medication, may only be moderately affected by a good hair loss diet, in many cases men and women can see great results after only 3-4 months eating more vitamins and minerals for hair growth. 
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.)
The Rogaine rep we spoke to explained that the different packaging (and therefore different prices) has to do with the FDA-approval process: “We discovered in clinical trials that the hair loss patterns between men and women are different,” she said by way of explanation. “Men typically have that bald spot on the crown of their head, where women generally have a general thinning throughout, but concentrated more on the top of the head. So for FDA approval, we had to come up with two different, gender-specific products, so the directions were more explanatory.”
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.
To do the exercise, simply rub the fingernails of both hands - except the thumbs - against each other as hard as possible. Make sure not to let the surface of the nails rub against each other - just the tips. In acupressure therapy, it is believed that the hair follicles on the scalp are connected to the fingernails and by doing the exercise, it will stimulate blood circulation and nutrients into the follicles, therefore promoting hair growth.
The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best women’s jeans, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, ultraflattering pants, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.
Poor nutrition. Not eating enough healthy food can contribute to hair loss. This is why some people with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia lose their hair: The body isn't getting enough protein, vitamins, and minerals to support hair growth. Some teens who are vegetarians also lose their hair if they don't get enough protein from non-meat sources. And some athletes are at higher risk for hair loss because they may be more likely to develop iron-deficiency anemia.
*Photograph used with permission of the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. This photograph was published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, Vol. # 60, Gathers RC, Jankowski M, Eide M, et al. “Hair grooming practices and central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia,” 660-8. Copyright Elsevier (2009). Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.   
Proper levels of this promote optimal hair growth and longevity, leading to hair that is healthy, lustrous and more abundant. According to a paper produced by the Ohio State University, found that it is “critically important in the development and maintenance of multiple epithelial tissues, including skin, hair, and sebaceous glands.”  Getting the proper amount of Vitamin A can directly stimulate hair growth in both men and women.
Hair practices. Our hair is one of the strongest and most elastic parts of our body. One strand of a healthy hair can be twice as strong as a copper wire of similar thickness. However, not all hair types are equal. Unfortunately, hair care practices and styling can lead to scalp damage and unnecessary pressure on the hair follicles, resulting in hair breakage and loss.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder also known as "spot baldness" that can result in hair loss ranging from just one location (Alopecia areata monolocularis) to every hair on the entire body (Alopecia areata universalis). Although thought to be caused by hair follicles becoming dormant, what triggers alopecia areata is not known. In most cases the condition corrects itself, but it can also spread to the entire scalp (alopecia totalis) or to the entire body (alopecia universalis).
Periods of prolonged or severe illness can affect the hair. “As with extreme stress and extreme diets, this also comes down to the body preserving its energy balance and shutting down non-essential functions in order to battle the illness more effectively,” Berg says. “In fact, physicians have used an inspection of the fingernails and hair quality as part of standard examinations of overall health for many years. Changes in these features provide some clues about the length and severity of illness.” Other diseases, such as diabetes and lupus, can also cause hair loss. Check out these other things your hair can reveal about your health.
A key aspect of hair loss with age is the aging of the hair follicle.[43] Ordinarily, hair follicle renewal is maintained by the stem cells associated with each follicle. Aging of the hair follicle appears to be primed by a sustained cellular response to the DNA damage that accumulates in renewing stem cells during aging.[44] This damage response involves the proteolysis of type XVII collagen by neutrophil elastase in response to the DNA damage in the hair follicle stem cells. Proteolysis of collagen leads to elimination of the damaged cells and then to terminal hair follicle miniaturization.
The HairMax Ultima 12 LaserComb ($395) makes for a great addition to any hair loss regimen — provided you can afford it. Dr. Wolfeld notes that it’s a popular option in his practice. “Some people like the action of combing something through their hair,” he says. “They find that to be a little bit easier to do as part of their routine in the morning.” Dr. Khadavi also recommends using a laser treatment of some kind in conjunction with other treatments. “Lasers do help in stimulating the hair into the growth phase. We don’t know the exact mechanism of how it works, but it definitely helps.”
×