SOURCES: George Cotsarelis, MD, director, Hair and Scalp Clinic, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia. Andrew Kaufman, MD, assistant professor, department of dermatology, University of California, Los Angeles; medical director, Center for Dermatology Care, Thousand Oaks, Calif. Tom Barrows, PhD, director of product development, Aderans Research Institute Inc., Atlanta. Cotsarelis, G. and Millar, S.E. Trends in Molecular Medicine, July 2001; vol 7: pp 293-301. American Society for Dermatologic Surgery web site. American Academy of Facial and Reconstructive Plastic Surgery web site. American Hair Loss Council web site. Springer, K. American Family Physician, July 1, 2003; vol 68: pp 93-102. Hair Loss Help web site, "Interview with Dr. Ken Washenik from Bosley." Fuchs, E. Developmental Cell, July 2001: vol 1: pp 13-25.
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.
Minoxidil (Rogaine): This topical medication is available over the counter, and no prescription is required. Men and women can use it. It works best on the crown, less on the frontal region. Minoxidil is available as a 2% solution, 4% solution, an extra-strength 5% solution, and a new foam or mousse preparation. Rogaine may grow a little hair, but it's better at holding onto what's still there. There are few side effects with Rogaine. The main problem with this treatment is the need to keep applying it once or twice daily, and most men get tired of it after a while. In addition, minoxidil tends to work less well on the front of the head, which is where baldness bothers most men. Inadvertent application to the face or neck skin can cause unwanted hair growth in those areas.
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.
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.
Rub the gel-like sap/juice of the aloe vera leaf directly on your scalp. Leave it on for a few hours and then rinse with lukewarm water. Do this three to four times a week. You can also mix a tablespoon of aloe vera gel with wheat grass juice to boost hair growth. Wheatgrass is also rich in protein, vitamins C and E and other minerals. Drink the wheatgrass juice mixed with aloe vera extract for two weeks to stop hair breakage and minimize hair fall.
In mainstream medicine, Levothyroxine drugs are the gold standard for the treatment of hypothyroidism. While these drugs work for some people, they fail for others. Levothyroxine drugs contain T4 thyroid hormone only. Our bodies are supposed to convert that T4 thyroid hormone to the active T3 hormone our cells need. For some of us our bodies don’t convert T4 to T3 properly, leaving us symptomatic. This is why many of us do better on a combination of T4 and T3 thyroid hormone replacement treatment.
Hair loss vitamins such as Biotin, Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Vitamin C, and minerals for hair loss such as Zinc and Iron, provide essential hair nutrients to nourish healthy and longer hair. Eating enough of these key hair growth vitamins can help prevent hair loss in both men and women. Although some causes of hair loss, such as chemotherapy, illness and medication, may only be moderately affected by a good hair loss diet, in many cases men and women can see great results after only 3-4 months eating more vitamins and minerals for hair growth.
A group of topical medications called prostaglandin analogs have recently began undergoing testing for potential hair regrowth. They may be used in men and women. These drugs are not currently FDA approved for scalp hair loss. Currently, these are primarily used for eyelash enhancement. One of the new medications is called bimatoprost (Latisse). Further testing and studies are required to assess the efficacy of these products in scalp hair loss. Bimatoprost solution is sometimes used off-label for help in selected cases of hair loss. It is currently FDA approved for cosmetic eyelash enhancement. Studies have shown it can treat hypotrichosis (short or sparse) of the eyelashes by increasing their growth, including length, thickness, and darkness. This medication is also commercially available as Lumigan, which is used to treat glaucoma. It is not known exactly how this medication works in hair regrowth, but it is thought to lengthen the anagen phase (active phase) of hair growth. Interestingly, during routine medical use of Lumigan eyedrops for glaucoma patients, it was serendipitously found that eyelashes got longer and thicker in many users. This led to clinical trials and the approval of cosmetic use of Latisse for eyelashes.