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?
Again, as we've mentioned at the start, these treatments and cures are dependent on the cause and type of hair loss. While massage oils and a hair spa treatment can work on hair loss in men caused by a skin or scalp infection, these may not work for cases of pattern baldness that are hereditary or caused by DHT associated with male hormones. Even medications like minodixil and finasteride cannot offer a permanent cure. In cases of permanent hair loss like pattern baldness, sometimes the best type of cure is simply management of your condition.
*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.
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).
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.
While the drug is generally safe for use, some possible side effects are mild irritation of the scalp, dryness and growth of hair on some parts of the body, especially the sides of the face and hands. In some cases, you might observe some increased hair loss around the first few days of use. If the hair fall continues after two weeks upon application of minoxidil, stop the treatment first and see a doctor.
Although a fever technically is any body temperature above the normal of 98.6 F (37 C), in practice, a person is usually not considered to have a significant fever until the temperature is above 100.4 F (38 C). Fever is part of the body's own disease-fighting arsenal; rising body temperatures apparently are capable of killing off many disease-producing organisms.
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.)
Although many medications list "hair loss" among their potential side effects, most drugs are not likely to induce hair loss. On the other hand, cancer treatment (for example, chemotherapy or radiation therapy) and immunosuppressive medications commonly produce hair loss. Complete hair loss after chemotherapy usually regrows after six to 12 months.
Low ferritin (the stored form of iron) is one of the most common causes of hair loss in women. Given low ferritin is also a common problem for hypothyroid people, it is important to have iron testing including ferritin especially if you are experiencing hair loss. It is not enough to be told by your doctor that your iron levels are ‘normal’. Ferritin levels are not always tested. Get a copy of your lab results and be sure ferritin has been specifically tested. Even if ferritin is within the ‘normal’ range that doesn’t make it ‘optimal’.
Do not subject your hair to frequent chemical treatments, excessive blow drying, ironing, and coloring, as it can lead to hair loss. If you color your hair and have been facing hair fall issues, it would be a good idea to take a short break before you put any more chemicals in your hair. Avoid hairstyles like tight ponytails, pigtails or braids on a daily basis. Using hair elastics to pull back hair tightly can cause hair fall.
“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 changes about as fast as grass grows, which is to say it’s extraordinarily slow and not visible to anyone checking impatiently in the mirror every day. But during regular follow-up appointments, Harklinikken uses high-tech equipment to photograph and magnify the scalp and count new hairs and active follicles, which motivates users to adhere to the regimen. Too many people give up on treatments like Rogaine and low-level-light devices before they’ve had a chance to work, Dr. Senna said.
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.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a nonprescription medication approved for male pattern baldness and alopecia areata. In a liquid or foam, it is rubbed into the scalp twice a day. Some people have an allergic reaction to the propylene glycol in the minoxidil solution and a minoxidil foam was developed without propylene glycol. Not all users will regrow hair. The longer the hair has stopped growing, the less likely minoxidil will regrow hair. Minoxidil is not effective for other causes of hair loss. Hair regrowth can take 1 to 6 months to begin. Treatment must be continued indefinitely. If the treatment is stopped, hair loss resumes. Any regrown hair and any hair susceptible to being lost, while Minoxidil was used, will be lost. Most frequent side effects are mild scalp irritation, allergic contact dermatitis, and unwanted hair in other parts of the body.
Women lose hair on an inherited (genetic) basis, too, but female pattern hair loss tends to be more diffuse, with less likelihood of the crown and frontal hairline being lost. Although some women may notice hair thinning as early as their 20s, the pace of hair loss tends to be gradual, often taking years to become obvious to others. There seems to be a normal physiologic thinning that comes with age and occurs in many women in their early to mid-30s. More women have underlying causes of hair loss than men. These include treatable conditions like anemia and thyroid disease and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). These conditions are diagnosed by blood tests along with a historical and physical evidence. Although a few studies have suggested that baldness may be inherited through the mother's family genes, these theories require further testing. Current studies are inconclusive. Although not indicated for female pattern balding, spironolactone (Aldactone) has had some success in treating this condition.
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.
Learn to get used to it. Men with balding hair would like to wear caps as a way to mask or cover-up their thinning hair. But while this is understandable, wearing a cap will not make the issue go away. Rather, by teaching oneself to get used to your new look, the easier it will be to accept and the less awkward you'd feel if you're out in public. Wear a hat only when necessary, that is, if you need scalp protection.
Vigorous styling and hair treatments over the years can cause your hair to fall out. Examples of extreme styling include tight braids, hair weaves or corn rows as well as chemical relaxers to straighten your hair, hot-oil treatments or any kind of harsh chemical or high heat. Because these practices can actually affect the hair root, your hair might not grow back.
I always advise clients to allow freshly washed hair to air dry until half dry at least once a week. By blow drying for just 50% of the time, you reduce the impact of heat styling without compromise on finish. Small change big difference over a year. We say, “Go Low Low” – use low heat and low speed, it’s the best way to work with a curl to achieve definition and the best route to a frizz free finish on a sleek straight look. Pick a hair dryer that works harder for you too – beyond just drying. My Infrared PRO hairdryer dries from the inside out, so it locks in moisture to keep that glossy finish, while the speed at which it dries minimizes the disturbance to the follicle and thus keeps frizz at bay too.
Combing your hair can be a nightmare when you are dealing with hair loss. This can be made easier by using the right comb. Use a wooden wide-tooth comb to untangle your hair; you can use your regular brush after this. This will reduce breakage and hair loss from pulling. It is also crucial to remember not to comb your hair while it is wet. Your hair is at its most vulnerable when wet, which increases the chances of breakage. You should also clean your combs and brushes every week. You can do this while you’re in the shower or while shampooing each week. Cleaning your combs is a necessary precaution to take for hair fall control.
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.
This refers to the habitual pulling or twisting of one's own hair. The scalp and eyelashes are often affected. Unlike alopecia areata patches, which are perfectly smooth, hair patches in trichotillomania show broken-off hairs. Treatment is often entirely behavioral. One has to notice the behavior and then consciously stop. Severe or resistant cases may require stress counseling with a therapist or psychologist or medical treatment with a psychiatrist. Several antidepressant or anti-anxiety medications can help with this condition.
"I recommend that everyone [with any hair loss] take finasteride," says Robert M. Bernstein, MD. Bernstein is associate clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University and founder of the Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration. "To patients who are younger,” he says, “I also recommend minoxidil. But the mainstay is finasteride. The data show that, over five years, it significantly retards hair loss in 85% of users."
When men have hereditary hair loss, they often get a receding hairline. Many men see bald patches, especially on the top of the head. Women, on the other hand, tend to keep their hairline. They see noticeably thinning hair. The first sign of hair loss for many women is a widening part. In rare cases, men see noticeably thinning hair. And in rare cases, women can see a receding hairline or bald patches. The reasons for this are unknown.
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.
Though, it is important to point out that a lot of these companies are developing procedures that involve implanting hair, which means there is a chance they will be expensive — as we mentioned before, traditional hair transplants are costly. But a few companies and products such as Follicum’s FOL-S-005 and Fidia Pharma’s Brotzu Lotion are being designed as topical treatments.
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.
When it comes to hair health, what you put in your body is just as important as what you put on your hair. Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet becomes crucial as soon as you notice hair fall. Foods that are rich in Zinc, Iron, Vitamins A, B complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, omega-3 fatty acids, and proteins should be consumed. These foods by themselves may go a long way in curbing hair fall as more often than not, hair fall is directly related to a vitamin/mineral deficiency. A healthy diet will also help keep your hair moisturized and nourished, leading to lesser hair fall, fewer split ends, and curbed breakage.