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+. 
Disruptions in the normal length of each phase, which can cause hair loss and hair thinning, may be the result of a number of internal and external stimuli. These are also what we call the triggers and causes of your hair loss. As a quick example, dieting can leave the body stressed and in need of important nutrients. Because of this stress, hair growth may be cut shorter than usual and there is an early onset of telogen or shedding of hair.
Finasteride and minoxidil (for men) and minoxidil (for women) have the best level of evidence for medicines used to treat inherited hair loss.footnote 1, footnote 2 How well finasteride or minoxidil works depends on your age and the location of the hair loss. These medicines don't work for everyone, and you should not expect to regrow a full head of hair.
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.
Cosmetic procedures, such as shampooing too often, perms, bleaching, and dyeing hair can contribute to overall hair thinning by making hair weak and brittle. Tight braiding, using rollers or hot curlers, and running hair picks through tight curls can also damage and break hair. However, these procedures don't cause baldness. In most instances hair grows back normally if the source of the problem is removed. Still, severe damage to the hair or scalp sometimes causes permanent bald patches.
The test involves plucking about 50 hairs from the head, typically at the back of the scalp, so your dermatologist can look at them under a microscope and determine how much of the hair is in the resting, growth, and fall-out phases. Next, a vial of blood is sent to a lab to check hormone and nutrient levels ($100 and up, depending on insurance). If low levels of iron, or high levels of male hormones, like androgens, are contributing to your hair loss, for example, both can be treated through oral supplements or medication.
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.
Hair loss often follows childbirth in the postpartum period without causing baldness. In this situation, the hair is actually thicker during pregnancy owing to increased circulating oestrogens. Approximately three months after giving birth (typically between 2 and 5 months), oestrogen levels drop and hair loss occurs, often particularly noticeably around the hairline and temple area. Hair typically grows back normally and treatment is not indicated.[21][22]A similar situation occurs in women taking the fertility-stimulating drug clomiphene.
Make improvements in your diet to reduce hair loss. If your diet lacks marine proteins, vitamins and minerals for hair growth, it can lead to damaged hair, thinning hair, and hair loss. Eat a variety of colorful, well-balanced foods, consult a dietitian or nutritionist, and if you think you are still not getting a good hair loss diet, try a vitamin supplement for hair loss such as Viviscal.
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.
Traction alopecia - certain hairstyles such as when you pull on your hair tightly can cause scarring of the hair follicles. If pulling is stopped before scarring to the scalp then your hair will grow back normally. Nervous habits such as continual hair pulling or scalp rubbing can also cause scarring and ultimately permanent hair loss. Excessive shampooing and blow-drying can also cause hair loss.
Cyproterone acetate was also developed in the 1960s. It blocks the effect of androgen hormones and is an alternative to spironolactone for women with patterned hair loss. It is a weak progestogen and is found in some oral contraceptives (the pill). Cyproterone acetate can also be used to treat acne, unwanted facial and body hair, and hereditary hair loss in women. Cyproterone acetate requires a prescription from your doctor.
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Just as pregnancy hormone changes can cause hair loss, so can switching or going off birth-control pills. This can also cause telogen effluvium, and it may be more likely if you have a family history of hair loss. The change in the hormonal balance that occurs at menopause may also have the same result. “The androgen (male hormone) receptors on the scalp becoming activated,” explains Mark Hammonds, MD, a dermatologist with Scott & White Clinic in Round Rock, Texas. “The hair follicles will miniaturize and then you start to lose more hair.”
It's no myth that excess stress can literally make your hair fall out. How does this happen? Well, it can raise androgen (male hormone) levels, which in turn can causes hair loss. "Stress may also trigger scalp problems, such as dandruff, disrupt eating habits and mess with the digestive system – all of which can have a negative impact on hair" says Anabel.
Spironolactone has been widely used in Australia since the 1960s to treat high blood pressure and fluid retention. It blocks the effect of androgen hormones. In women, androgens can cause oily skin, acne, unwanted facial and body hair, and hair loss on the scalp. Women can use spironolactone to treat all of these conditions, but requires a prescription from your doctor.
Jimenez, J. J., Wikramanayake, T. C., Bergfeld, W., Hordinsky, M., Hickman, J. G., Hamblin, M. R., & Schachner, L. A. (2014). Efficacy and Safety of a Low-level Laser Device in the Treatment of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss: A Multicenter, Randomized, Sham Device-controlled, Double-blind Study. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology, 15(2), 115–127.
Choosing where and who will perform your hair transplant is as important a consideration as to what kind of hair transplant to get. Of utmost consideration is that this should be done by the dermatologist /surgeon, and not his/her technician. The surgeon himself/herself should also oversee the design of your hairline and how the extraction of the graft will be done.
Contact immunotherapy. Another drug that can be administered for cases of alopecia areata is contact immunotherapy and is recommended for severe cases. Diphenylcyclopropenon (DPCP) is applied on the scalp every week, and the dosage of the drug is increased over time until a mild allergic reaction is observed, which signals that the drug is taking effect. Regrowth may be observed within three months from the beginning of treatment.
Hair concealers and hair fibers. These are one of the newest cosmetic answers to hair loss. As the name suggests, these products are applied on the scalp or hair to camouflage hair loss and give the appearance of fullness to thinning hair. Some of these are applied directly on the scalp, while others (hair fibers) are attached to the hair, much like hair extensions, to add volume.

Licorice root. Licorice is an herb that is also used to treat and prevent hair loss and hair damage. It soothes the scalp and helps with dry flakes, dandruff and other forms of scalp irritation. Mix a tablespoon of ground licorice root with a cup of milk and a quarter teaspoon of saffron. Apply the paste on the bald patches and leave it on overnight. Rinse in the morning. You can do this two to three times a week.
There can be several factors behind hair loss such as environmental effects, aging, too much stress, excessive smoking, nutritional deficiencies, hormonal imbalance, genetic factors, scalp infections, use of wrong or chemically enriched hair products, certain medicines and medical conditions like thyroid disorder, autoimmune diseases, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), iron-deficiency anemia, and chronic illnesses.
Nutrient deficiencies are a common issue for those of us with hypothyroidism. Not only are nutrients essential for thyroid function, but they also play an important role in keeping the hair on our heads from falling. A good quality multi-vitamin is important and of course a healthy diet is essential, but still nutrient testing is important because many like me will require additional supplementation to bring us to optimal. Testing should include iodine, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, B12, and magnesium.
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.
While there is no catch, finasteride doesn’t completely cure male pattern baldness. Instead, it blocks the hormone linked to hair loss in men (DHT) and is only effective for as long as you take the medication. No matter how successful your treatment is and regardless of how much hair you’ve managed to grow back, if you stop taking finasteride abruptly, you’re not going to like the result. More often than not, the hair you grew back will fall out and the balding process as a whole will resume where it left off.
Despite advances in our understanding of hair loss, there are limits to current treatment. In particular, age-related hair loss and inherited forms of hair loss are difficult to reverse, although treatment may prevent further loss and produce partial regrowth. Non-surgical treatments include lotions and tablets. These generally need to be used continuously for the benefits to be maintained. If you stop treatment, regrowth will cease and hair loss will resume.

Somehow stress has an effect on the hair cycle. Typically about 90 percent of hairs are in a growing stage, and about 10 percent are in a resting stage, and it’s these resting-stage hairs that shed. Stress seems to prompt more of the growing hairs to go into the resting phase and then fall out. The good news is that this type of hair loss is temporary; after the hair falls out, a new hair usually will replace and prevent stress-induced hair loss, maintain a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise, and a nutritious diet.
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.
There are two types of identification tests for female pattern baldness: the Ludwig Scale and the Savin Scale. Both track the progress of diffused thinning, which typically begins on the crown of the head behind the hairline, and becomes gradually more pronounced. For male pattern baldness, the Hamilton–Norwood scale tracks the progress of a receding hairline and/or a thinning crown, through to a horseshoe-shaped ring of hair around the head and on to total baldness.
I have struggled with my hair for a long time now. I am quickly approaching my 40s and I have bad hair quality. Recently, I have also noticed that my hair has stopped growing as it used to. A few years ago I went to the salon on a monthly basis. Now, it takes me almost two months before I even need to cut my hair! I am desperate and I really need help right now. Hair is one of the most important parts of a woman and I don’t want to give up on this one. I went to the doctors but they didn’t found anything wrong with me. The exams I took showed that I am healthy and there’s no reason for this to even happen to me. Please, I really need hair advice urgently!!!!!!!!!!!!
DR. WRIGHT: If stomach acid is low, protein isn’t efficiently digested – and hair and nails are made up of… protein! If we are deficient in protein, our bodies know that we can live without hair or nail proteins, but we can’t survive without heart muscle proteins or other important body proteins. So if we are short in supply of protein, the hair or nails are the first to go.
Has your doctor told you that your blood sugar levels are too high? Low thyroid is one potential cause of diabetes, and it may be your red flag to have your thyroid re-evaluated. When my doctor once mentioned that my blood sugar was at the high pre-diabetic level and suggested starting diabetes medication, I asked for 6 months to try replacing my regular multivitamin with this one Designs for Health Metabolic Synergy (created by a nationally prominent doctor specializing in blood sugar) and by my follow-up appointment my blood sugar was completely normal and diabetes medication was not needed (what a relief). 

During a hair transplant procedure, a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon removes tiny patches of skin, each containing one to several hairs, from the back or side of your scalp. Sometimes a larger strip of skin containing multiple hair groupings is taken. He or she then implants the hair follicle by follicle into the bald sections. Some doctors recommend using minoxidil after the transplant, to help minimize hair loss. And you may need more than one surgery to get the effect you want. Hereditary hair loss will eventually progress despite surgery.

2. Volumizing shampoos and treatments. Typically, these work by depositing ingredients, like wheat protein and keratin, that adhere to the hair shaft to a) thicken it and b) create spaces between hairs so you look like you have more of it. Try Kiehl’s Rice & Wheat Volumizing Shampoo ($18) with hydrolyzed wheat protein; Rogers likes Redken Cerafill Defy Shampoo and Conditioner ($20 each) with ceramides that bulk up hair.
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.
3. Hair fibers. The best (and easiest) way to hide a widening part or sparse patch is with hair fibers. They’re tiny, charged fibers that adhere to your scalp (until your next shampoo). Toppik Hair Building Fibers ($25) come in a range of colors so you can easily find one that matches your own hair. (In a pinch, you can also brush a powdered eye shadow that matches your hair color along your part.)

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.[9] 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.
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.
“While nutritious eating isn’t going to bring your hair back by any means, eating plenty of protein-rich foods and healthy fats can make the hair that you still have look thicker and shinier.” Skimping on the B vitamins in particular can interfere with the formation of hair cells and, therefore, hair growth. The best sources of Bs are protein-packed foods like chicken, fish, eggs, and pork, as well as leafy greens such as spinach. (These foods are also good for melting belly fat, so it’s a win win).
Hair-fiber powders: Colored, powdery fiber sprinkles are commercially available and may work to camouflage balding areas. These colored sprinkles have special properties that help them attach to hair and give a fuller appearance. Toppik is one manufacturer of these products and can be found online. These cosmetic products are available without a prescription, are fairly inexpensive ($20-$40 range), and quite safe with minimal risk. Often these may be used in addition to medical treatments like Rogaine, Propecia, and hair transplants, and they are a great temporary measure to tide one over for special occasions.
Hair transplants will likely lead to better results in the long run (you are introducing new hairs to the balding areas), but you’ll still need to use minoxidil or finasteride after surgery to maintain the results. Like all hair loss treatments, hair transplants are best when combined with other methods, and you’ll want to speak with your doctor to see what combination is best for you.
Just like with your hair color and hairline, your genes often determine whether you’ll experience thinning hair. It’s a myth that you inherit your hair loss gene from your mother’s father, says Dr. Zeichner. “There are many genetic causes. Women tend to develop a widening of their part line and thinning of hair on the top of the head, but typically do not fully lose their hair in the way that men do.”   You can help stem the tide of hair loss by reducing stress, avoiding very tight hairstyles (ponytails, braiding) that contribute to hair loss, and eating a nutrient-rich diet, but once the hair is gone, your best bet may be camouflage. “In situations where there is no treatment, women can hide bald or thinning spots by changing their hairstyle or wearing hats, headbands, and scarves,” says Ramon Padilla, founder of EverTrue, a Microblading Salon in Manhattan. “But a more long-term solution is permanent makeup, such as our Hairline Rescue treatment, where we re-create the look of hair strands stroke-by-stroke.” The Hairline Rescue treatment is like a semi-permanent tattoo that lasts about 18 months.
Alopecia mucinosa - also known as follicular mucinosis is an autoimmune disorder. It causes inflammation of the hair follicles which can result in scarring or non-scarring hair loss. This condition can affect any part of the body and can affect both children and adults. If treated early, the hair will grow back. If the condition is too severe, the hair will not grow back.
Just letting go is possibly the most challenging of the available options. It’s also the cheapest and ultimately the most effective in the struggle with hair loss. Given the imperfections of surgical, medical, and technological options, there are many who advocate simple acceptance. (BaldRUs.com is one of several sites devoted to embracing the scalp's natural fate.) What's more, the health benefits of happier mirror time -- and fewer years of harmful anxiety -- just might offset the loss of those Samson-like powers.
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.
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.

It is best to start treating your hair loss as early as possible, as it is easier to prevent hair being lost than to regrow it. Nevertheless, Propecia - and its active ingredient Finasteride - has proven to be an extremely successful treatment, in both preventing loss and encouraging regrowth. Although success varies according to the length of time the medicine taken, around two thirds of men who use it benefit from renewed hair growth, while hair loss is halted in most other men.
Instead, Advanced Hair Studio offers hair loss tablets that inhibit DHT production through naturally occurring ingredients, such as herbs. Our Serenoa 320 capsules and Advanced Hair and Scalp Antioxidant use natural ingredients, including the plant extract Serenoa as well as Fallopia japonica, Zinc, Biotin, Silicon and Ascorbic acid to reduce DHT production and create a healthier scalp.
Localized or diffuse hair loss may also occur in cicatricial alopecia (lupus erythematosus, lichen plano pilaris, folliculitis decalvans, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, postmenopausal frontal fibrosing alopecia, etc.). Tumours and skin outgrowths also induce localized baldness (sebaceous nevus, basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma).
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.
Follicular Unit Extraction (FUE). In this method, instead of taking out a whole sample strip, small, individual follicle grafts are cut using a machine and then transplanted. The process is more tedious and more time-consuming, but has been known to have a higher recovery rate and there are no risks of scarring because no cuts and stitches are required.
In addition to your hairstyle, the processes you use on your hair, whether it’s to add color or texture, can have a detrimental effect. For example, harsh chemicals for bleaching and straightening, along with excess heat, can damage and even kill hair follicles, Burg points out. Additionally, excessive chemical treatments applied directly on the scalp can cause inflammation. “Inflammation can damage the follicle, which in turn to can lead to hair loss,” says Maria Halasz, CEO of évolis Professional. To prevent over-processing, she recommends limiting chemical treatments on the scalp to every four to six weeks. Check out these tips for people who use heat on their hair every day.
Very little of the active ingredient, minoxidil, is absorbed into the circulation and therefore general side effects are not expected. You should stop using Regaine and see a doctor if hypotension (low blood pressure) is detected or if you experience chest pain, rapid heartbeat, faintness or dizziness, sudden unexplained weight gain, swollen hands or feet or persistent redness.
3. Nutriceuticals. Rogers recommends that her patients try Viviscal Dietary Supplements ($50 for a one-month supply) or Nutrafol ($88 for a one-month supply), both of which can often be picked up in a salon. The former contains marine-based proteins meant to beef up thinning hair. The latter is packed with antioxidants, like ashwagandha and curcumin, and boasts impressive clinical results.
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