Thinning hair can be caused by many factors, ranging from genetics to nutritional deficiencies. Prescription and alternative treatments, including corticosteroids, minoxidil-containing solutions, and tea tree oils, may work to help certain individuals. Other people may get more benefits from eliminating habits that cause damage to the hair and making lifestyle changes, like eating a well-balanced diet. For many individuals, however, gradual hair loss is an inevitable and natural part of the aging process that can be masked with volumizing shampoos or hair transplants, but not really stopped.
Hair Loss Facts
The medical term for hair loss caused by thinning hair is alopecia. Some people begin to notice that their hair is getting thinner in their early teens, although most hair loss does not occur until the 30s or 40s or later. Hair loss is more common among men, but typically causes greater stress for women who have been raised to believe that hair is an important part of their femininity.
There are many myths and misunderstandings about why hair gets thinner. Most scientists no longer believe that hair loss is caused by things like clogged hair follicles, poor scalp circulation, or wearing hats and helmets. Illness, stress, poor diet, and certain prescription medications can aggravate thinning hair, according to researchers. Hair loss attributable to one of these factors is generally easier to treat.
Age and genetic influences — especially related to hormone-vulnerable hair follicles — account for many cases of thinning hair, usually in the form of female or male pattern baldness. The androgen hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) can cause hair follicles to shrink. In such cases, your hair loss may be very difficult to treat although some medications may work. Wearing a wig or styling the hair in certain ways may help improve your appearance if you are uncomfortable with how your hair looks. A professional hairstylist is perhaps the best source of advice for individual choices.
Treating the Underlying Causes
If it's caused by another, underlying condition, the best way to stop thinning hair is to deal with that problem first to eliminate the side effects. For example, eating more important nutrients like protein, iron, and vitamins A and D can often help restore your hair's health. Medical conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, and seborrheic dermatitis may cause hair-related problems, so it's important to see a medical professional. Thinning hair is only one side effect of these conditions, and the proper treatment may improve your overall health as well as your appearance. Hair loss cases caused by prescription medications may be treated by either eliminating the medication or lowering the dosage.
Some types of hair loss is caused by the way the hair is styled. Women who regularly wear their hair tightly pulled back from the scalp in braids or pony tails can develop traction alopecia. In this condition, the hair no longer grows in some areas, particularly at the temples and sides of the head. If caught early, changing the hair style to no longer pull is the best treatment, although some medications may also help.
A number of medications have helped many people regrow their hair. Over-the-counter hair treatment products containing a minoxidil liquid solution are available for both men and women. Men who suffer from thinning hair may see results with the prescription medication finasteride, but it does have serious possible side effects, including erectile dysfunction. Some studies have shown that ketoconazole, an anti-fungal medication, may also help regrow hair, but it has not been approved in the US for this treatment. Prescription-based corticosteroids injections, pills, or creams may help reduce inflammation in the scalp, which can cause thinning hair. Most of these methods require continual use, since any improvement will often be reversed after treatment stops.
A number of natural substances have also been used to treat many body and health-related issues, including alopecia. Tea tree oils, vegetative dyes, egg yolks, chamomile, rosemary, honey, oak, and wheat grass are all promoted as treatments for thinning hair. There are few scientific studies to support the claims for most of these treatments, but they are unlikely to have serious side effects. Proponents usually advise applying some of these substances to the hair, allowing them to sit for some time, then using a gentle shampoo or simply rinsing them out.
Hair Care Changes
Low quality shampoos, conditioners, and styling aids may cause hair breakage that can sometimes be mistaken for hair loss. Some products may contain harsh ingredients like sulfate and alcohol that are damaging, while excessive hair washing and heat from styling irons can further damage hair strands. Chemical styling products, like hair relaxers, can also weaken the hair and cause it to thin. Switching to salon-quality hair care products rich in moisturizers might be a worthwhile investment, as can finding a hairstyle that works with your hair's natural texture. In addition, if you possess naturally thin hair, you may try a volumizing shampoo that will coat your hair strands and give your hair more body.
You may want to consider hair transplants and scalp reduction surgery as a treatment option if nothing else works. These methods are often expensive, painful, and may carry serious risks, however. Many experts will only recommend surgery if other treatment methods have failed and if you feel your quality of life is substantially impacted.