Hair Loss

Hair loss treatments

One of the least appealing things about growing up is the natural, inevitable process of aging. It happens to each one of us despite the extensive hair treatments, spas and pricey hair products. Causes are often heredity and aging and could be slowed down with treatments and may also help re-grow hair, including over-the-counter therapies. Here’s what you need to know about hair loss and how to deal with it.

Why do we lose hair?

On average, people lose about 50 to 100 hairs every day. Because new hair grows in at the same time, this hair loss usually doesn’t cause noticeable thinning of scalp hair. The cycle of hair growths, shedding and re-growth can be disrupted for several reasons. Family history, medical conditions and medication or hormonal changes all can lead to hair loss. Stress also can be a huge contributing factor.

Hereditary hair loss

Heredity typically affects pattern balding. This type of hair loss usually happens slowly and in predictable patterns a receding hairline and bald spots in men, and thinning hair along the crown of the scalp in women. If your hair loss follows these patterns, it’s likely hereditary. Over the counter remedies are a reasonable first step to combat this type of hair loss.

Types of hair loss

There can be multiple types of hair loss caused by a multitude of reasons ranging from cosmetic procedures, hormonal imbalance, autoimmune diseases, medications or diet changes. Alopecia areata often starts suddenly and causes patchy hair loss in children and young adults. This condition may result in complete baldness (alopecia totalis). But in about 90% of people with the condition, the hair returns within a few years. Male pattern baldness, also called androgenic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss in men.

Treatments

The most common hair loss treatment you can buy over the counter is a medication called minoxidil. It comes in liquid, foam and shampoo forms. To be most effective, apply the medication to the scalp twice daily. Products with minoxidil help many people maintain the hair they still have, and it can re-grow up to about 10 per cent of lost hair.

The extra strength liquid form of this medication is what’s typically recommended for patients with pattern baldness. It can be used by men and women. The liquid is easier to apply directly to the scalp than the foam, which often is absorbed by the hair. The shampoo isn’t ideal because many people don’t have time to shampoo their hair twice a day, and the force of shampooing can stress the hair, causing additional hair loss.

Things to remember

• To retain the benefits of medication, you will need to continue using it regularly. If you stop, using it, the hair you’ve re-grown may fall out, and you’re likely to return to the rate at which you were losing hair before you began treatment.

• Another way to help reduce hair loss is to be gentle with your hair. Decrease shampooing to twice or thrice a week.

• Use a light touch when brushing and combing, especially when your hair is wet. A wide toothed comb may help prevent pulling out hair. Avoid tight hairstyles, such as braids, buns or ponytails. Try not to twist, pull or rub your hair.

• Avoid harsh treatments such as curling irons, straightening irons and hot oil treatments.

• Prescription treatments also are available for pattern balding hair loss. For women, hormone therapies that help balance the levels of estrogen and testosterone often can maintain hair and decrease loss.

• If over the counter remedies and self care steps aren’t enough to decrease your hair loss, or if you’re concerned that your hair loss may be the result of a different underlying problem, such as a medication you take, talk to your health care provider or make an appointment to see a dermatologist.

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