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.
Natural hair that is subjected to constant physical trauma from excessive brushing or combing, tight braids or ponytails, or extreme scratching or massage can cause hair at the temples to become weak and to stop growing to its normal length. Clean shaving, especially for men, can cause white bumps to appear on the area where the hair was shaved short, and at times can become infected with pus and leave permanent scarring, affecting hair growth.
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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+.
Another method is to wear a hat or a hairpiece—a wig or toupee. The wig is a layer of artificial or natural hair made to resemble a typical hair style. In most cases the hair is artificial. Wigs vary widely in quality and cost. In the United States, the best wigs—those that look like real hair—cost up to tens of thousands of dollars. Organizations also collect individuals' donations of their own natural hair to be made into wigs for young cancer patients who have lost their hair due to chemotherapy or other cancer treatment in addition to any type of hair loss.
There are few scientifically proven and FDA-approved treatments for hair loss. There are thousands of unproven claims and products to help with hair regrowth. Many conditioners, shampoos, vitamins, and other products claim to help hair grow in some unspecified way. Nioxin has been a popular brand of shampoo for hair loss, but there is no compelling evidence showing it is any more effective than regular shampoos. These products are usually harmless but generally not scientifically proven and therefore potentially useless. To slow down hair loss, there are at least four potentially effective, basic options. These include medications like Minoxidil, and Propecia, which are for long-term use. Stopping these drugs does not seem to worsen or exacerbate the prior hair loss. The patient will simply revert to the state he would have been in had he never started treatment.
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.
Though not as common as the loss of hair on the head, chemotherapy, hormone imbalance, forms of hair loss, and other factors can also cause loss of hair in the eyebrows. Loss of growth in the outer one third of the eyebrow is often associated with hypothyroidism. Artificial eyebrows are available to replace missing eyebrows or to cover patchy eyebrows. Eyebrow embroidery is another option which involves the use of a blade to add pigment to the eyebrows. This gives a natural 3D look for those who are worried about an artificial look and it lasts for two years. Micropigmentation (permanent makeup tattooing) is also available for those who want the look to be permanent.
Most men experience hair loss as they get older, but for some it starts as early as their 20s or 30s. We offer both Finasteride and Propecia as prescription-only hair loss treatments. If you order Finasteride or Propecia from our discreet online service, you can pick it up from one of our pharmacies the same day, or have it delivered the following day.
The dermatologist also will carefully look at your scalp and hair. During an exam, the dermatologist may pull on your hair. Sometimes a dermatologist needs to pull out a hair to get the necessary evidence. And sometimes a dermatologist needs to look at the hair on the rest of your body to see whether there is too little or too much hair in other areas.
One hair loss tablet that targets hormones is Propecia. This targets a specific androgenic hormone (male sex hormone) named dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is present throughout the body, and prompts the growth of hair and spurs sexual development around puberty. However, in later years, it binds to hair follicles and causes them to shrink, occluding hair shafts and making healthy hair growth impossible.
The hormonal process of testosterone converting to DHT, which then harms hair follicles, happens in both men and women. Under normal conditions, women have a minute fraction of the level of testosterone that men have, but even a lower level can cause DHT- triggered hair loss in women. And certainly when those levels rise, DHT is even more of a problem. Those levels can rise and still be within what doctors consider “normal” on a blood test, even though they are high enough to cause a problem. The levels may not rise at all and still be a problem if you have the kind of body chemistry that is overly sensitive to even its regular levels of chemicals, including hormones.
Enriched with the goodness of natural ingredients such as henna, brahmi, baheda, fenugreek, jojoba oil, amla, bhringaraj, olive oil, wheat germ oil, sesame oil, this nourishing hair oil helps fight and prevent hair fall. It encourages new hair growth by stimulating the follicles, while also strengthening the hair, and reducing thinning with regular use. While on the pricier side, this oil is worth the money because of how effective it is.
The most common form of hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, or, in other words, male or female pattern baldness or hair loss. Androgenetic alopecia is genetic and affects an estimated 50 million men and 30 million women in the United States. Among white women in the U.S., an average of 19% are affected by female pattern hair loss, but that percentage increases with age. The prevalence is nearly doubled in Australia at 32% and much lower in Korea and China at < 6%. As of 2015, no studies had been done on the prevalence of female pattern hair loss in Brazil or Africa.
Patel said the problem with those treatments is that they have not been subjected to large or head-to-head research. There's great variation in how doctors give the plasma treatments and in laser-based devices, so it's hard for patients to know whether they're getting a proven regimen. Nutrafol seems promising, he said, but he does not think that company-funded research showing its effectiveness has been replicated. He has not recommended it yet.
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.
Medications and vitamins: Cancer chemotherapy, which attacks hair follicles in its attempt to kill all fast-growing cells around the body, is a well-known reason for hair loss. Other medications’ side effects include hair shedding as well, such as some that treat high blood pressure and gout (a painful joint condition caused by a buildup of uric acid). Excessive levels of vitamin A also contribute.
Trichotillomania, classified as an “impulse control disorder,” causes people to compulsively pull their hair out. “It’s sort of like a tic, the person is constantly playing and pulling their hair,” says Dr. Glashofer says. Unfortunately, this constant playing and pulling can actually strip your head of its natural protection: hair. Trichotillomania often begins before the age of 17 and is four times as common in women as in men.
Hair styling products from shampoo, conditioner, to hair dye, bleach, gels and perm and straightening products may contain chemicals that can damage the scalp and cause the shaft to break, resulting in hair thinning. Beware of these products that contain toxic chemicals such as arsenic, thallium, meadow saffron (colchicum autumnale), and lead. These chemical ingredients can manipulate and disrupt the natural hair growth cycle, for example, shortening the anagen phase of growth. Hair procedures like hair relaxing and permanent waving, while do not lead to permanent hair loss, can damage the quality of the hair and make it more prone to hair breakage.
Nutrient deficiencies are an issue for me personally. I supplement every day to maintain my nutrients at optimum. When I noticed a worsening of my hair loss last year, nutrient testing revealed that I was deficient in all those nutrients necessary for hair health. This high quality multivitamin Pure Encapsulations PureLean Pure Pack (it helped me lose a few pounds too) which includes the healthy fat omega-3 has made a world of difference. I also like Pure Encapsulations Energize Plus Pure Pack for a boost of energy but it often sells out.
Not surprisingly, treatments with 5 percent minoxidil work better than treatments with 2 percent minoxidil. A randomized clinical trial published in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology in 2002 found that, in men with androgenetic alopecia, “5 percent topical minoxidil was clearly superior to 2 percent topical minoxidil and placebo in increasing hair growth.” The difference was actually pretty astounding — after 48 weeks, the men who used 5 percent minoxidil experienced 45 percent more hair growth than the men who used the 2 percent treatment.
The more upsetting problem is central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, a type of baldness that starts at the crown of the head and spreads outward. "It's hugely, hugely difficult," said Susan Taylor, a dermatologist at Penn Medicine who specializes in treating women with CCCA. "It affects quality of life." She said it is seen "almost exclusively" in women of African descent. One study found it in 10 percent to 15 percent of black women, but Taylor thinks it's more common. "I could see women all day, every day, with this problem," she said.
“Many prescription drugs, often those that affect hormones, can lead to changes in the hair. One frequent culprit is anti-acne medications, specifically those that involve types of retinol (vitamin A),” explains Burg. “There are also reports of some anti-aging creams containing retinols causing hair loss.” It is unclear how these medications interfere with hair growth, but disruption of the hair cycle is a common issue, he adds. Learn about skin-care ingredients you should never mix.
It's for this reason that grocery stores have shelves stocked full with hair care and hair grooming products of all forms and kinds, for different purposes, and even specialized and customized for use of men and women. In one study, it was found that more than half of the men in the UK use about six to ten hair grooming products alone, from the staple shampoos and conditioners to hair gels and other styling products.
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.
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.
Laser devices: Brushes, combs, and other hand-held devices that emit laser light might stimulate hair growth. These devices might make hair look more youthful in some people. Because the FDA classifies these products as medical devices, the products do not undergo the rigorous testing that medicines undergo. The long-term effectiveness and safety for these devices are not known.
Promote natural hair growth by eating a good hair loss diet. Here are five of the top foods for hair growth, including nuts (which contain omega-3 fatty acids, biotin, vitamin E and copper), oysters (rich in zinc), sweet potatoes (omega-3 fatty acids, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, zinc, and vitamins A, B, C, K and E), eggs (a good source of protein, plus biotin, other B vitamins, zinc, selenium, sulfur and iron), and spinach (iron, beta-carotene, folate, vitamin A and vitamin C).
According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMSD), alternative therapies may not help hair regrow and many are not supported by medical research. However, other treatments that reportedly improve alopecia areata include Chinese herbs, acupuncture, zinc and vitamin supplements, evening primrose oil and aroma therapy.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
Beyond that, things get more controversial, with some doctors saying there's inadequate evidence for other treatments. Saxena thinks there is enough scientific evidence to support some of the alternatives and recommends them to patients. But they are not for women on tight budgets. There's Nutrafol, a "nutraceutical" that costs about $80 a month. Women can also get injections in the scalp of platelet-rich plasma made from their own blood. The first four treatments cost about $2,000 at Saxena's practice in Fort Washington or Lansdale. Maintenance injections, done every three to six months, cost $515 each. Women can also buy Theradome, a light-emitting helmet, for $895 online. Saxena, who has hair loss herself, said she has had the injections and currently uses minoxidil, spironolactone, and Nutrafol.
These medicines slow thinning of the hair and increase coverage of the scalp by growing new hair. They also thicken the shafts of your existing hair so that it grows in thicker. If you stop using the medicine, any hair that has grown in will gradually be lost. Within 6 to 12 months after you stop using the medicine, your scalp will most likely look the same as it did before treatment.
When hair loss is related to a medication, stopping the drug usually prevents further hair loss, and the hair will eventually grow back. Hair also tends to grow back after most illnesses, radiation therapy, or chemotherapy. Wearing a wig or hat can hide the hair loss until the hair returns. Hair transplants are a more permanent hair-replacement solution.
3. Surgical hair replacement. If you opt for hair transplantation (which runs $5,000 and up), your dermatologist or hair-replacement surgeon will remove single hair follicles from the back of the head, near the nape of the neck, where your hair is fullest. Once those follicles are harvested, they are then dissected and reimplanted into an area of the scalp where hair is thinning. The procedure takes anywhere from three to six hours, and newly implanted hair will usually begin to grow on its own 3 to 12 months after the treatment session. Traditionally, hair transplantation required removal of an entire strip of scalp, Sadick says, but this new follicle-by-follicle technique looks more natural when it heals and allows patients to get heads of hair as dense-looking as before they started losing it.
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.
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.
There are different ways to treat adrenal issues and what’s right for a person is individual too. I personally do well on adaptogenic herbs including Ashwaghanda, Rhodiola, Holy Basil, and Schisandra. I take adaptogenic herbs every day, especially in times of real stress. With this combination of herbs Pure Encapsulations Phyto-ADR my energy is also up, my anxiety is down, and I sleep like a baby.
Again, you’ll want to visit your doctor to get a blood test to check your levels in these vitamins. For example, women who have iron levels lower than 70 nanograms per milliliter are considered deficient. From there, work with your doctor to find an appropriate dose according to your deficiency level. Excessive or unnecessary supplementation can be dangerous.
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Cicatricial or Scarring alopecia - hair loss occurs when inflammation damages and scars the hair follicle and replaces it with scar tissue. The inflammation that destroys the follicle is under the skin surface so affected areas of the scalp may show little signs of inflammation. It is not known what triggers or causes this inflammation. If the inflammation destroys the stem cells and sebaceous glands, then hair loss is permanent.
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).
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.
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.
Finasteride (Propecia) is used in male-pattern hair loss in a pill form, taken 1 milligram per day. It is not indicated for women and is not recommended in pregnant women. Treatment is effective starting within 6 weeks of treatment. Finasteride causes an increase in hair retention, the weight of hair, and some increase in regrowth. Side effects in about 2% of males, include decreased sex drive, erectile dysfunction, and ejaculatory dysfunction. Treatment should be continued as long as positive results occur. Once treatment is stopped, hair loss resumes.
The best fix by far for replacing lost hair is a transplant. Back in the day, docs used plugs that resembled cornrows (definitely not natural looking). Today, guys have more options. You can go for “the strip method” where a doctor surgically removes a strip of hair from the back of your head, dissects every hair graft under a microscope, and then plants the individual grafts onto hair-thin areas of your scalp with tiny incisions.
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.
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.
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.