Medical conditions and medications. A common medical condition that also causes hair loss is hypothyroidism, which can happen in both men and women. Patients suffer from an underactive thyroid gland, which is responsible for producing the hormone, thyroxin, which performs important bodily functions, such as the regulation of body temperature, proper utilization of carbohydrates and fats, and production of protein. Since protein is an important nutrient for the production of keratin, inadequate protein supply in the body due to an underactive thyroid means that hair growth in the follicles is slow. In men especially, hair loss is one of the first signs of hypothyroidism.
The average person loses 50 to 100 hairs per day naturally due to this cycle. But if the process is interrupted at any stage—for example, if the follicle doesn’t come back out of resting mode or starts to shrink—hair loss and hair thinning can result. Interruptions to the cycle can be caused by hormones, stress, poor diet, chemical hair treatments, certain medications, and, of course, good ol' genetics.
It is estimated that 90% of people with hypothyroidism have the thyroid autoimmune condition known as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Hashimoto’s is an autoimmune condition in which the body attacks its own thyroid gland. Despite the prevalence of Hashimoto’s, thyroid antibodies are often NOT tested. You may have Hashimoto’s and not even know it. There are two thyroid antibodies to test for Hashimoto’s: Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPOAb) and Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb).
Another type of baldness that goes with hair styling can be permanent: Wearing your hair in a style that pulls too tightly can cause something called traction alopecia. Traction alopecia can permanently damage the hair follicles if you wear a style that pulls on your hair for a long time. if you are getting your hair styled and it hurts, ask the stylist to redo it so that it is no longer painful. Pain is a sign of too much traction on the hair.
Other medical conditions — most commonly telogen effluvium and seborrheic dermatitis — can also cause hair loss, but most people can trace their follicular woes back to androgenetic alopecia, so we focused our search there. We started with more than 200 products, including all-natural solutions and high-tech gadgets, while skipping treatments that focus only on volumizing or thickening hair. We also limited our scope to the scalp, and left out specialty products designed only for eyebrows or beards.
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.
None of these need be life threatening, nor does hair loss usually follow them. (Moreover, it can happen after one pregnancy, but not the next.) But when the hair falls out, it's all over the place -- covering the pillow, clogging the drain, and so forth. Paradoxically, the more dramatic the hair loss, the better the prognosis, because when the body gets back into normal rhythm, most if not all of that hair comes back; these people need no special treatment. Normal shampooing can continue, because this only loosens hairs that were going to come out anyway.
Hair pieces and wigs. One of the most traditional answers to hair loss, wigs and toupees are perfect for severe cases where full coverage is needed. Wigs can be made either from real human hair, animal hair or synthetic fiber. The materials are sewn together into certain hair styles and are worn on top of the real hair. For those who want to cover up only bald spots or add volume to thinning hair, hair pieces and hair extensions are also available. These are balls of hair that can be attached at the base or clipped to portions of the head.
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.
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.
A few studies support the use of red ginseng, sometimes called panax ginseng (about $25), for hair regrowth. It can have an anti-apoptotic effect on the hair, Rogers says, meaning it slows cell death so hair follicles can grow for a longer period of time. But before taking any of these supplements, it’s important to consult your doctor; a lab test can confirm whether you need a particular supplement or if taking it will just be a waste of time and money.
Two of the most common LLLT products in the market are the Hairmax Lasercomb and the Capillus 272. The Lasercomb is a hand-held device that is used to comb the hair for 10-15 minutes every treatment, and takes about eight weeks of use in order to see a noticeable improvement in the thickness and quality of the hair. The Capillus is a laser cap that must be worn, and is more convenient because this can be used at home or even out in public (it can be worn underneath a cap or a turban).
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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.
And though this treatment appears to be safe and somewhat effective, it’s hard to tell who will react well to this low-level light therapy, which is why the doctors I spoke with were hesitant to fully endorse it. “We’re not sure what the optimal power is, what the optimal wavelength is, we don’t even really know the mechanism of action of how this is working,” says Rieder. Plus, it doesn’t work on everyone. “There are subpopulations of patients who do respond to low-level laser light, but this is not easily predictable,” explains McMichael, though she adds that the risk of using the LaserComb is low.
Every part of the body requires thyroid hormone for proper functioning, and that includes the hair follicles. In 2008, the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism presented the first evidence that human hair follicles are direct targets of thyroid hormones. This research demonstrated that the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 modulate multiple hair biology parameters from cycling to pigmentation.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body found in your skin, hair, bones, and tendons. Our body produces less and less of it as we age. I’ve long read about the benefits, including improved skin and nails and even pain reduction, of replenishing our depleting collagen stores with a form easily assimilated by the human body including hydrolyzed collagen and gelatin. I became particularly interested in collagen for hair loss when I read about a study published in Science in 2016. It all started with investigating the hair follicle stem cells of mice where researchers discovered that age-related DNA damage triggers the destruction of a protein called Collagen 17A1. The hair follicles of older people then convert themselves into skin cells, and over time baldness ensues. Think of the image of each hair follicle on your head disappearing leaving behind bare skin one at a time and on and on. My favorite brand is Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides grass-fed and pasture-raised.