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Hair: It’s a natural part of being a human. But when the temperature climbs, and skin is exposed, it’s one of those things that a good many of us want to control. This week, we’re tackling hairlessness, not just the process of hair removal (electric shavers and ingrown-hair treatments and aesthetician-approved tweezers) but also what to buy when you’re losing your hair, and even how to take care of a Sphynx cat. Here, we’re talking to dermatologists and hair-loss doctors about hair-loss treatments that actually work.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You can also get a hair-loss kit from Hims, which comes with both minoxidil and finasteride. Keeps has one, as well. And though it might seem like overkill to take two different hair-loss treatments at once, this is one of those rare instances where more is actually better. McAndrews calls the combination of orally administered finasteride and topically applied minoxidil a “full-court press” against hair loss. “That’s doing the most you can for preventative medicine.” Rieder notes that taking both drugs together is more effective than taking either one alone.
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.
Back in the 17th century, men were told that coating their balding heads with chicken faeces would help them regain a full head of long glossy locks. While we might have moved on somewhat since then, we still don’t fully understand the science behind hair loss and hair regrowth and, unfortunately, there are still some very common myths about hair remedies that we are far too quick to believe.
Many other women, though, start noticing thinning hair on top of their heads. Doctors say the defining sign is a widening of the part. The hairline itself is usually intact, but the hair becomes less dense behind it. Doctors will often run a battery of tests to make sure there are no treatable medical conditions, such as anemia, thyroid problems, tumors, or hormonal problems. "Ninety percent of the time, it's normal," Patel said.
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.
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.
It may seem a peculiar American vanity that men have in-boxes full of hair loss treatment offers and spend billions of dollars on hair loss treatments each year. Not so. As Gersh Kuntzman illustrates in his book Hair! Mankind's Historic Quest to End Baldness, chrome-dome anxiety has tormented us for ages. Caesar's laurel wreaths? Classic red herring, Kuntzman says.
Finasteride is available on private prescription in a tablet form. It prevents the hormone testosterone being converted to another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is known to shrink hair follicles. Blocking this action can help the hair follicles to return to their normal size. It usually takes three to six months of daily use to see an effect, and the process starts again if treatment is stopped.
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.
Herbal hair supplements are designed to “supplement,” or work together with, a healthy diet, not replace it. However, it’s also important to recognize that the fast pace of life doesn’t always allow for making meals from scratch every day. If you find it hard to meet the recommended daily amounts nutrients because of a tight schedule, you’re definitely not alone.
Scalp reduction is the process is the decreasing of the area of bald skin on the head. In time, the skin on the head becomes flexible and stretched enough that some of it can be surgically removed. After the hairless scalp is removed, the space is closed with hair-covered scalp. Scalp reduction is generally done in combination with hair transplantation to provide a natural-looking hairline, especially those with extensive hair loss.