Hair loss is extremely common, affecting about 50 million men and 30 million women in the U.S., according to medicinenet.com. About 50 percent of men will have some hair loss by the time they turn 50. While not life-threatening, hair loss can have devastating psychological effects, particularly in women.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss is often caused by genetics – that is, it runs in families. In general, it is not a symptom of disease; however, thyroid disease, anemia, ringworm of the scalp, and anorexia can cause hair loss. In addition, some medications such as cancer chemotherapy may cause temporary hair loss. Hair growth usually returns to normal when the medications are stopped. In some cases, hormonal changes after giving birth or during menopause can cause thinning hair.
Male Pattern Baldness
Androgenetic alopecia, sometimes referred to as “male pattern baldness,” accounts for the majority of hair loss in men, but it can also affect women. It is usually caused by a combination of hormones and genetics.
Female Pattern Baldness
While men tend to start losing hair on their forehead hairline, women tend to notice hair loss appearing on the top and crown of the scalp. As in men, it may be related to genetics (family history), and it is more commonly seen after menopause. Unlike men, the hair loss does not tend to be total.
There is no shampoo, conditioner or other product that will help hair to grow. There are, however, FDA-approved products that can slow hair loss, including: Minoxidil (Rogaine) and Finasteride (Propecia), both of which can often have side effects and disappointing results.
According to a CBS News report in May 2018, researchers have discovered that a drug originally used to treat osteoporosis could lead to treatment for baldness. But there are still many hurdles to clear before it’s an option.
Study author, Nathan Hawkshaw, PhD told the BBC that the treatment could “make a real difference to people who suffer from hair loss.”
“The fact that this new agent, which had never even been considered in a hair loss context, promotes human hair growth is exciting because of its translational potential,” he said in a statement. However, he cautions that the treatment needs to be studied further before it could be ready for use by men or women in search of a fuller head of hair. “Clearly though, a clinical trial is required next to tell us whether this drug or similar compounds are both effective and safe in hair loss patients,” Hawkshaw said.
In use since the 80s, PRP (platelet-rich plasma) therapy for hair loss is a three-step medical treatment in which a patient’s blood is drawn, processed and then injected into the scalp. Some in the medical community think that PRP injections trigger natural hair growth and maintain it by increasing blood supply to the hair follicle and increasing the thickness of the hair shaft. Sometimes this approach is combined with other hair loss procedures or medications. There has not been enough research to prove if PRP is an effective hair loss treatment.
Top 10 Foods for Healthy Hair
- Spinach and other dark green vegetables
- Legumes, such as beans and lentils
- Walnuts, cashews, pecans and almonds
- Whole Grains (whole wheat bread, fortified whole-grain cereals)
- Oysters (zinc content)
- Low-fat dairy products
- Carrots (source of Vitamin A)