Alopecia, or hair loss, comes in many forms. From allergic reactions to life-saving treatments like radiation therapy, hair loss can be a very upsetting situation for anyone. Whether you are experiencing hair loss on your scalp or over your entire body, there may be some things you can do to slow your thinning hair and prevent hair loss.
The CDC says that a degree of hair loss occurs naturally in all people. In fact, on average, it is projected that people generally lose about 100 hairs a day. Shedding some hair is a completely normal function of our bodies, and for most people, the hair loss is quickly replenished.
When the hair loss outpaces your ability to naturally replenish it though, you might be interested in consulting a hair care specialist to figure out if you have one of the many types of Alopecia or some other medical condition resulting in hair loss.
Causes of Hair Loss
For many, the gradual thinning of hair can be overwhelming, embarrassing, and unattractive. We’ve all seen a middle-aged man with male pattern baldness trying desperately to cover up their bald spot with comb-overs, hair pieces, or hats. Women experiencing female pattern baldness will take to a shawl or even invest in numerous wigs in an effort to conceal the signs that they’re suffering from this type of hair loss.
Unfortunately, the changes in our body’s hormones, our age, and our genetic disposition are all known causes of hair loss that are completely unavoidable.
Scientists have been successful in tackling this unsightly issue, shedding light on how to address ailments such as Androgenic Alopecia or Alopecia Areata. At this stage of the game, experts know that our hair follicles become weaker as we age. The hair produced, consequently, becomes thinner, might grow back less pigmented (this is the fancy way to say gray), and, in some cases, stops growing altogether.
Treating Hair Loss and Thinning Hair
You can, however, slow the effects of time– at least in regards to your hair. Like every part of your body, your hair follicles thrive on good nutrition. Eating well and making sure that you are prioritizing a balanced, healthy diet could be the defining factor in your body’s ability to regrow hair for a longer period of time. Do not fall prey to fad diets or blindly go along with some of the more popular hair loss myths people out there believe.
Instead, follow your doctor’s guidance to best provide your body with the micronutrients you need. This will ensure that your hair follicles are in prime condition to produce hair. At the very least, your dermatologist can be used as a resource to help you understand how your diet affects both your skin and hair.
Maintain Proper Nutrition
Hair follicles are stimulated, chiefly, by Vitamin D, which is the main nutrient responsible for hair growth. Professionals have known for decades that our bodies produce Vitamin D through a chemical reaction in our skin from UVB sunlight exposure, and have also come to find that most people are not producing enough of this important group of fat-soluble secosteroids.
If you are seeing thinning hair in cold weather months, you may want to first consider Vitamin D3 and D2 supplements leading up to Autumn and Winter. Vitamin D deficiencies aren’t just limited to seasonal disruptions in sun exposure either, so it may be worth getting your levels checked year-round.
Stop Worrying About It
Another factor you should definitely consider is your stress level. While increased stress has been known to cause people to lose hair more rapidly, hair has been known to grow back as fully as ever once the stress has been alleviated.
This is most often the case with people that have suffered a traumatic incident, like a car accident, and temporarily lost their hair. On the other hand, it might be difficult to realize a long-term stressor that is causing gradually thinning hair. Maintaining a lifestyle that allows for relief from day-to-day stressors, like work or family responsibilities, can help your hair. There are great ways to lessen your stress, from recreation to professional therapy, and it’s important that you find your own path to a less stressful life.
Non-Surgical Options for Thinning Hair
As you’ve probably noticed by now, we have been trying to increase the complexity of treatments to slow the thinning of hair intelligently and safely. And truthfully, all of the prior ideas are sensible practices for everyone’s general health. Eat right, get consistent sunshine so that you supplement your diet with plenty of Vitamin D, and manage your stress levels. These are the habits of healthy people, so what happens when these things don’t work? Then, medical intervention might be necessary.
A safe, noninvasive treatment that has recently become available in the cosmetic dermatology space is wearable laser treatments. Not too long ago, laser technology was too expensive and too bulky to be practical, but advances in technology have made this method of stimulating hair growth tremendously effective in recent years. Even the American Academy of Dermatology recognizes laser light treatment as a convenient solution towards combating hair loss, so long as there are still hair follicles present in the area the light is being directed.
Another medically-proven treatment is minoxidil. In the past, minoxidil required a prescription, as it was originally intended for consumption, as opposed to topical use. Minoxidil was originally prescribed as a vasodilator and used to control blood pressure, but it was soon noted to have the curious side-effect of causing hair growth.
Research on using it topically proved it to be safe at lower doses and effective in growing hair on people with thinning hair. It is important to note that it typically takes sixteen weeks or more before people see results, and consistent administration of the medication is required for successful regrowth of hair.
A number of newer prescription medications have recently come onto the market, but the wrong product can do more harm than good. It is important to speak with your AAD-accredited dermatologist for more information about potential drug interactions with prescriptions you are already taking, or to be sure you are healthy enough for such medications.
Other Options for Treating Thinning Hair
There are numerous other medical options available, too, from DIY remedies to surgical options. Follicular unit excision (or extraction, also known as FUE) hair transplants, as well as follicular unit transplants (FUT) are still the most effective treatment options for people whose hair won’t grow. Hereditary hair loss or a family history showing signs of it don’t have to be life sentences. Even if you are on a budget, there are a number of hair transplant centers (including the Hair Restoration Center of NY and NJ) who offer payment packages to help you face thinning hair.
And finally, remember, though you may find balding unpleasant, it doesn’t mean you’re not healthy. Hair can be important for many reasons, but your physical well-being is paramount. Do not let thinning hair dictate who you are or let hair loss hold you back. Find the best balance between life and treatment to guide your choice.