What Can I Do About My Hair Falling Out?
If you are experiencing hair loss, no doubt you've wondered why your hair is falling out and what you can do to stop it. There are many treatments for hair loss for men and women, and while not all result in hair growth or regrowth, you can try different treatments to find the one you like best.
Hair loss, or alopecia, is a common affliction for both men and women. It is especially pronounced in middle aged individuals, but symptoms often appear as early as late adolescence. Since there are many causes of hair loss, several treatment options exist. In some cases, hair loss is thought to be a genetic condition and is therefore untreatable.
It is important to understand the most common causes of hair loss. In some situations, simply halting behavior that leads to hair loss may give hair a chance to regrow. One major cause is a lack of iron in the body. This can combated by eating iron-rich foods, such as red meat, spinach, legumes, and fish. Extreme heat is another cause of hair loss, and can be avoided by restricting use of a blow dryer or hot comb. Testosterone, if taken as a supplement for another disorder, can lead to hair loss. In cases such as this, hair will generally regrow once a testosterone regimen is stopped. Finally, some hair loss occurs as a result of stress. Finding a way to cope with stress, besides being good for general health, can promote normal hair growth.
Male Patern Baldness
Most undesirable hair loss falls under the heading of male pattern baldness. This usually occurs in men between the approximate ages of 25 and 50, and may progress into old age. Also known as alopecia androgenetica, male pattern baldness can affect women as well as men, though it is far more common men, hence its common name. It is estimated that more than 50 percent of men experience some form of male pattern baldness by age 50. Male pattern baldness results from several causes, including genetics, diet, and hormonal levels. As such, treatment is varied and results are usually uncertain. Beyond diet and lifestyle changes, certain topical treatments, drugs, and surgical options exist.
One of the most common treatments for male pattern baldness is minoxidil, which is offered as a topical scalp treatment. Minoxidil was originally designed to combat high blood pressure, but was discovered to also promote hair growth and was approved by the FDA for marketing as an alopecia treatment in the 1980s. Researchers have failed to understand how minoxidil promotes hair growth, but clinical studies have shown that it is effective at growing hair on the frontal regions of the scalp. In the 1990s, finasteride was introduced under the brand name Propecia. Administered orally, finasteride works by controlling enzymes that regulate testosterone levels and, like Minoxidil, has proven effective in clinical trials. However, finasteride has also been shown to cause complications during pregnancy and is therefore restricted to men and women who do not intend to become pregnant.
Dutasteride and Ketoconazole are other drug options marketed for stopping hair loss. These two drugs are actually a steroid and an antifungal solution, respectively. Copper peptides have also drawn interest from researchers who observe their application to lessen the amount of time hair follicles remain dormant. Copper peptides are commonly added to shampoos and other topical hair loss treatments, though their effectiveness has not been thoroughly analyzed. Naturally occurring compounds are also gaining popularity among people wishing to treat hair loss without the use of chemicals. Everyday substances like caffeine and flax seeds are thought by some to promote hair growth or, in some cases, simply slow the hair loss process.
Hair transplants remain one of the most drastic treatments for male pattern baldness. In its various forms, hair transplants involve the moving of skin so that hair follicles which are resistant to baldness (such as those on the sides and back of the head) are placed over areas affected by baldness. This can be done by removing the bald section and pulling the bald resistant skin to cover that portion of the scalp, or removing donor tissue from a bald resistant area and grafting it onto the affected site. If successful, transplanted follicles will produce the patient's natural hair indefinitely. However, the cost and recovery time for most transplant procedure makes it an option that is appropriate for only a portion of baldness sufferers.