The psychology of hair thinning is a complex issue. Hair is considered an essential part of overall identity: especially for women, for whom it often represents femininity and attractiveness. Men typically associate a full head of hair with youth and vigor. Although they may be aware of pattern baldness in their family, many are uncomfortable talking about the issue. Hair thinning is therefore a sensitive issue for both sexes. For sufferers, it can represent a loss of control and feelings of isolation. People experiencing hair thinning often find themselves in a situation where their physical appearance is at odds with their own self-image and commonly worry that they appear older than they are or less attractive to others. Psychological problems due to baldness, if present, are typically most severe at the onset of symptoms.
Involutional alopecia. This one is less of a medical condition (it's not caused by a disease or genetics) and is more concerned with the hair growth cycle. Also called telogen effluvium, this condition is marked by a long dormant phase of telogen than growth or anagen. This type of hair loss is the second most common next to pattern baldness but is also the most unpredictable and difficult to pinpoint its cause. Studies have shown that the dormancy phase in the hair growth cycle is related to a range of factors, including hormonal imbalances, pregnancy in women, stress, diet, etc.
Alopecia areata - bald patches develop on the scalp, beard, and possibly eyebrows. eyelashes may fall out as well. This is thought to be an autoimmune disease, where the immune system attacks the hair follicles and leads to hair loss on the scalp and other parts of the body. However, the hair follicles are alive so there is potential for hair to regrow when the underlying problem has resolved. Growth may occur even without treatment and even after many years. In most cases hair loss only happens in a few places, leaving a few bare patches. In some cases though, the disease can advance to total loss of hair from the head (alopecia areata totalis) or complete loss of hair on the head, face and body (alopecia areata universalis).
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.
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.
The pull test helps to evaluate diffuse scalp hair loss. Gentle traction is exerted on a group of hairs (about 40–60) on three different areas of the scalp. The number of extracted hairs is counted and examined under a microscope. Normally, fewer than three hairs per area should come out with each pull. If more than ten hairs are obtained, the pull test is considered positive.
While diet alone won’t save your hair, there may be some truth to the old adage that you are what you eat. “You’re not going to have the healthiest hair if you’re living off doughnuts, because being nutrient-deficient weakens strands and makes them more prone to breakage,” says Denise Kernan, owner of DK Hair Techs, Inc., a member of the International Society for Hair Restoration Surgery, and a hair transplant technician who has worked on everyone from senators to sports stars to actors to mafia guys (she won’t name names to protect the privacy of her clients).
“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).
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.
Egg mask. Eggs are one of the riches sources of protein, which is the building block of keratin, as well as other minerals like zinc, iron, selenium, phosphorous and iodine. Mix an egg white with a tablespoon of olive oil and honey to make a paste. Apply it on your hair and leave on for 20 minutes. Rinse and shampoo using cold water. You can apply this egg mask on your hair once a week.
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.
There's a chance you're genetically predisposed to hair thinning, which means you may see a progressive, gradual reduction in hair volume. "In these instances, certain hair follicles are sensitive to male hormones – and this sensitivity causes follicles to gradually shrink and produce slightly finer and shorter hairs with each passing hair growth cycle." Explains Anabel.
Ms. Imhof, who lives in Land O’Lakes, Fla., was skeptical. The company’s before and after photos seemed too good to be true. But she went for a consultation and made the cut. (Harklinikken’s products are not available to anyone with autoimmune illnesses like alopecia or baldness from scarring, or anyone who is unlikely to see at least a 30 percent increase in growth.)
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.
Also, contrary to people's belief that 100 brush strokes a day can make your hair shiny and long, too much and too frequent brushing and combing can actually exert unnecessary pressure on the follicles, causing it to loosen its grip on the hair shaft, eventually resulting into hair fall. While regular combing is needed in order to encourage blood flow into the follicles, do so only when you need to style your hair, like in the morning. Use a wide-tooth comb as it allows for less tugging and pulling when you brush, especially when dealing with tangles. If tangles become unmanageable, use a moisturizing shampoo to loosen them.
While trauma can come on suddenly and unexpectedly, you may be able to help manage ongoing stress in your life with exercise, like yoga, or mindfulness techniques, like meditation. Some researchers are even exploring these alternative healing modalities in relation to reversing hair loss. The idea is that yoga and meditation may help regulate blood sugar and enhance circulation, promoting regrowth.
To us, that meant any product with zero proven ingredients, case studies, or FDA clearance — which shrunk our list by a whopping 180 contenders. That’s right, there are only three treatments that have actually been cleared by the FDA and supported with clinical studies: finasteride (commonly marketed as Propecia), minoxidil, and laser treatments. And, since finasteride is prescription-only, it left us with two.
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 normal cycle of hair goes through a phase of growth and rest. Each individual hair survives for an average of three and a half years. The growth phase of hair generally lasts two to three years, during which time it grows about half an inch a month. This growing phase is called anagen. This is followed by a resting phase called telogen, which lasts for about three to four months. Usually in its fourth year the hair falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new one.
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 women have a hormonal disorder that causes high levels of testosterone, including polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), they may experience thinning of hair on the scalp. Often these conditions are also associated with acne, irregular periods, and hair growth in areas typically seen in men, says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Over-the-counter supplements, such as Nutrafol, can help provide the follicles with the necessary building blocks for healthy hair production,” he says. These are other sneaky reasons your hair is thinning.
2. A strategic cut. Long, layer-free haircuts divert volume from the roots, making your part seem wider than it is, Scrivo says. Going shorter (than your current length — no need for a major chop) helps take weight off so hair can look fuller and bouncier. And layers that angle inward on the sides will build height and body at the crown. If you’re game to try bangs, Scrivo says, they lessen the amount of scalp that shows at the hairline.
Hair multiplication. Similar to the idea of cloning, this treatment involves taking out donor cells from the hair follicles and then growing and multiplying them in a laboratory. Once sufficient samples have been multiplied, these hair cells are then injected into the bald patches to stimulate hair growth. As a relatively new treatment, hair cloning is still in its research phase.
All men and women will be affected by patterned hair loss at some stage in their lives. While the majority of men have developed temporal recession by their mid 20s and noticeable balding by their mid 50s, for most women, hair loss is mild and only occurs later in life. However, when hair loss is premature or severe, it can cause distress. A range of treatments is available to slow or reduce hair loss, and stimulate partial regrowth
There’s no cure for baldness, but there are ways to hold on to what you've got. The six dermatologists and the clinical studies point to three methods: minoxidil, laser treatments, and prescription finasteride. The key is finding the combination and hair loss regimen that works for you. A doctor is your best bet for that kind of guidance — but we found a few trustworthy products that will work for most people.
There’s no such thing as a drug that’s without side effects completely. However, finasteride isn’t as harmful as some of the other types of medicine on the market. In fact, such a small percentage of men experience side effects at all, making the medicine effective and safe. With that said, there are a few things that you should know about the drug before you start taking it.
Managing hair loss is just as important as treating it. Now that we've talked about the different treatment options and cures available to reverse hair loss and promote increased growth, let's talk about how you can manage your condition and at the same time prevent further hair loss. The first is more psychological, while the second is more practical.
Aloe vera. Aloe vera is one of the most traditional and common natural hair loss treatments. It is known to possess enzymes that promote hair growth and a healthy scalp by regulating the hair and scalp's pH level. Known as a hair miracle, it is also used to treat other hair/scalp conditions like scalp itchiness, scalp redness, and inflammation. It also helps in minimizing dandruff and making the hair shinier and stronger.
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.
Telogen effluvium - occurs mainly due to the body’s reaction to stress, brought about by, illnesses such as cancer, mental and emotional disturbances, medications such as blood thinners, hormonal imbalances, stress during childbirth and so on. In this condition hair thinning occurs on the scalp. The hair usually regrows after the stress period is over.