Although experiencing hair loss usually doesn’t hurt, realizing that your hair is thinning can be upsetting, particularly if you can see spaces between your hairs and areas where your scalp is showing. Thankfully, there are several approaches to treating thinning hair and preventing further damage.
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Why are you losing hair?
The most prevalent causes of age-related hair loss are two common diseases.
Male- or female-pattern hair loss, commonly known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most prevalent kind. The first symptom is thinning hair. The finer the hair strands, the smaller the hair follicles get. Some hair follicles cease generating hair completely, according to Dr. Kathie Huang, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Hair Loss Clinic at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, which is affiliated with Harvard.
Hormone changes associated with aging or heredity may be the cause of this kind of hair loss. It happens gradually and according to patterns unique to men and women. Men may experience thinning at the temples or the crown of the head, or their front hairline may recede. According to Dr. Huang, it can affect the majority of the scalp in women or only certain regions like the center section, the temples, and the frontal scalp area. “But in androgenetic alopecia, women do not develop balding the way men can.”
The term “telogen effluvium” refers to another prevalent kind of hair loss. This kind of thinning happens quickly and is frequently brought on by physical or mental stress. It may occur following surgery, a urinary tract infection, or a high temperature. Shedding may also happen in response to a new medicine or an underlying medical issue, according to Dr. Huang.
Keeping your hair safe
The reason of your hair loss will determine the kind of treatment your doctor recommends. Telogen effluvium resolves on its own or following treatment for the underlying cause. “Telogen effluvium usually gets better in three to six months,” adds Dr. Huang.
The goal of treatment for androgenetic alopecia is to strengthen the hair follicles, making the hair strands thicker and the overall appearance of denser hair. The following medical procedures might be beneficial.
medications for the skin. The over-the-counter medication minoxidil (Rogaine) has been licensed by the FDA to treat hair loss in both men and women. It encourages hair lengthening and thickening of the hair follicles. It is administered to the scalp as a liquid or foam. “Using the liquid form could be simpler if you have a lot of hair. However, compared to the foam, more patients report discomfort from the liquid, according to Dr. Huang. “And you have to use it on a daily basis for at least nine months to see improvement.”
oral drugs. According to recent research, hair loss can be safely and effectively treated with minoxidil, a medication that has been used for decades to treat high blood pressure. “We’ve seen an increase in the use of oral minoxidil for hair loss in the past year,” adds Dr. Huang. “It’s helpful for people who aren’t getting enough benefit from topical minoxidil, or those who have scalp irritation from the topical form.”
Spironolactone (Aldactone) and finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) are two other oral drugs for hair loss. “Side effects are possible with oral medicines. Oral minoxidil, for instance, may result in heart palpitations or low blood pressure. As a result, we meticulously customize each patient’s treatment plan,” Dr. Huang explains.
injections of platelet-rich plasma. To promote hair growth, large amounts of your own blood are pumped into your scalp during this treatment. Each therapy, according to Dr. Huang, may cost $500 to $1,500. The procedure is usually repeated every month for three months, and you need follow-up treatments annually. It is still unknown if platelet-rich plasma promotes hair development.
laser light therapy. Low-level LED laser light emitting devices may encourage the development of hair. You can get them (without a prescription) in helmets and combs that you use on a daily basis at home. The price range is between several hundred and many thousand dollars.
Addenda. There isn’t enough proof to support the sometimes-expensive claims that supplements promote hair growth. “But if they won’t interfere with your medications, it’s probably okay to try them,” adds Dr. Huang.
Additionally, the secret to any of these therapies is to begin them as soon as you notice hair loss. Hair transplant surgery is your only chance to have your locks back after the follicles cease functioning.