Like a Ferrari production plant where luxury automobiles are painstakingly assembled from carefully crafted parts, hair growth depends on a number of carefully coordinated systems that work together. It’s no secret that supplements can have a positive effect on other parts of your body, such as your immune system and your heart. Can hair growth supplements have a similar effect on hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) to promote healthy hair growth naturally? Absolutely. In order to understand why, first it’s important to know how your hair grows.
Hair loss can be caused by factors ranging from illness, medication, poor diet, hormones and over-styling. Any one of these causes can interfere with the hair growth cycle, and can prevent hair follicles from growing new hair. We lose on average 100-150 hairs per day, and hair grows at an average of ½ inch per month. But when you notice more extreme hair shedding or slowed hair growth than this, it could be a hair loss symptom. For women, your hair loss symptoms may be thinning hair or gradually more exposed scalp on the top of your head. For men, you may find a growing bald spot on top of your head. About 50% of people have some kind of hair loss by the age of 50. For hair loss symptoms due to aging or hormones, women’s loss tends to be temporary while men’s is most often permanent. But never fear, if men take action early and take supplements for hair growth like Viviscal Man, they can nourish thinning hair to prevent further hair loss symptoms.
With sufficient vitamin C, every component related to hair growth gets a boost, which enhances the effects of other essential nutrients. One study from 2006 analyzed patients with androgenic alopecia who were treated with vitamin C and found significant growth stimulation in the hair and scalp, which indicates a link between it and hair follicle growth. In this study they also found that men with male pattern baldness (alopecia areta) saw significant results after supplementing with Vitamin C.
The other main hair-loss treatment that was recommended by all four dermatologists I interviewed is finasteride, often called by its brand name Propecia. This FDA-approved medication is only available with a prescription, but these days, it’s found as a generic and ordered online after a virtual consultation, through start-ups like Hims, Keeps, and Lemonaid.
Both emotional and physical stress (such as a serious illness or recovery from surgery) have been associated with hair loss. It is possible that stress induces hormonal changes that are responsible for the hair loss, since hair loss is a known consequence of other hormonal changes due to pregnancy, thyroid disturbances, or even from taking oral contraceptives.
Some hair loss can also result from the psychological condition trichotillomania. “People with this condition compulsively pull out their hair when they are stressed or even when they are concentrating, e.g. studying hard,” says Burg. “Sometimes the individual doesn’t know they are pulling their hair out, doing the activity absent-mindedly, and only notice once the bald patches appear.” Over time the hair follicles can become so damaged that they die and leave permanent bald patches. Find out why you shouldn’t pull out gray hairs either.
As a senior writer for Live Science, Laura Geggel covers general science, including the environment and amazing animals. She has written for The New York Times, Scholastic, Popular Science and Spectrum, a site covering autism research. Laura grew up in Seattle and studied English literature and psychology at Washington University in St. Louis before completing her graduate degree in science writing at NYU. When not writing, you'll find Laura playing Ultimate Frisbee. Follow Laura on Google+.
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).
SOURCES: George Cotsarelis, MD, director, Hair and Scalp Clinic, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Andrew Kaufman, MD, assistant professor, department of dermatology, University of California, Los Angeles; medical director, Center for Dermatology Care, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Tom Barrows, PhD, director of product development, Aderans Research Institute Inc., Atlanta. Cotsarelis, G. and Millar, S.E. Trends in Molecular Medicine, July 2001; vol 7: pp 293-301. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery web site. American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery web site. American Hair Loss Council web site. Springer, K. American Family Physician, July 1, 2003; vol 68: pp 93-102. Hair Loss Help web site, "Interview with Dr. Ken Washenik from Bosley." Fuchs, E. Developmental Cell, July 2001: vol 1: pp 13-25.
Procepia and Finasteride will only prevent hair loss and aid hair regrowth for the duration of your treatment. As soon as you stop taking them, any hair loss you would have had during that time will happen within a few months of ending the treatment. A doctor needs to check whether you can use either medication. You can order your treatment online from Superdrug and get your prescription from one of our online doctors, who will review your order.
Hair loss induced by cancer chemotherapy has been reported to cause changes in self-concept and body image. Body image does not return to the previous state after regrowth of hair for a majority of patients. In such cases, patients have difficulties expressing their feelings (alexithymia) and may be more prone to avoiding family conflicts. Family therapy can help families to cope with these psychological problems if they arise.
Female-pattern hair loss, called androgenic or androgenetic alopecia, is basically the female version of male pattern baldness. “If you come from a family where women started to have hair loss at a certain age, then you might be more prone to it,” says Dr. Glashofer. Unlike men, women don't tend to have a receding hairline, instead their part may widen and they may have noticeable thinning of hair.
A bathroom covered with loose strands or an ever-scrawnier ponytail can be startling but doesn't necessarily mean anything's wrong. By age 50, half of women will complain of hair loss. "As we age, overall hair density changes and individual strands become finer," says dermatologist Doris J. Day, MD. But just because thinning is natural doesn't mean you have to accept it. Here are 13 solutions to help you keep the hair out of your brush and on your head.
Topical creams and lotions: Over-the-counter minoxidil (also known as the brand name Rogaine) can restore some hair growth, especially in those with hereditary hair loss. It is applied directly to the scalp. Prescription-strength finasteride (Propecia) comes in pill form and is only for men. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians (AFP), it may take up to six months to tell if these medications are working.
A substantially blemished face, back and limbs could point to cystic acne. The most severe form of the condition, cystic acne, arises from the same hormonal imbalances that cause hair loss and is associated with dihydrotestosterone production. Seborrheic dermatitis, a condition in which an excessive amount of sebum is produced and builds up on the scalp (looking like an adult cradle cap), is also a symptom of hormonal imbalances, as is an excessively oily or dry scalp. Both can cause hair thinning.
Pattern balding is most common among middle-aged men, but signs can actually begin as early as the mid-20s. Once the hair loss starts, it generally takes about 15-25 years for most men with this condition to lose most of their hair. In some cases though, the progression of the condition can be fast so that others are already completely bald in just five years.
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.
Many other women, though, start noticing thinning hair on top of their heads. Doctors say the defining sign is a widening of the part. The hairline itself is usually intact, but the hair becomes less dense behind it. Doctors will often run a battery of tests to make sure there are no treatable medical conditions, such as anemia, thyroid problems, tumors, or hormonal problems. "Ninety percent of the time, it's normal," Patel said.
The common cause of hair loss is stress, changing hormones, menopause or medication such as antidepressants, blood thinners, retinoids, NSAIDs, birth control pills and high blood pressure medications. People with an autoimmune condition known as alopecia areata can suffer from hair loss in the scalps and several parts of the body. Other disorders and health conditions that can result in hair loss include:
That said, there are products that don’t have FDA approval or clearance, but may help prevent hair loss. For example, shampoos with ketoconazole, a chemical with anti-DHT properties, is widely used to treat fungal infections but has become popular among consumers as a hair loss treatment. It makes sense — research shows that ketoconazole actually has beneficial effects on hair growth (especially for those with seborrheic dermatitis).