For example, if your hair is thinning because you’ve recently started a new medication or a diet, your approach might be to take an oral supplement or use a laser light device. But if you have hair loss from psoriasis or chemical treatments, you might try a new shampoo and invest in a moisturizing scalp treatment. Throwing everything possible at the problem might not be the most effective method.
A commonly prescribed treatment for women is hormone replacement therapy (HRT). HRT is only prescribed to women with AGA during menopause or women who have low estrogen and/or progesterone for other reasons. These female hormones suppress male hormone production and seem to keep hair loss at bay. Physicians, however, do not recommend long periods of HRT treatment because of the increased risk of breast cancer, heart disease and stroke.
The majority of American men and women are affected by hair loss, known as alopecia, at some point in their lives, according to experts. Androgenetic alopecia (AGA), commonly referred to as male- or female-pattern baldness, accounts for about 95 percent of hair loss in the U.S., according to Better Nutrition magazine. Experts say pattern baldness is genetic and inherited equally in men and women. However, the hair-loss gene can only express itself when dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a male hormone, is present. Because estrogen usually suppresses male-hormone production, women don't typically experience pattern baldness until after menopause has begun; although, even the slightest hormone shift can cause hair loss in women.
Minoxidil: This medicine is applied to the scalp. It can stop hairs from getting thinner and stimulate hair growth on the top of the scalp. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved minoxidil to treat hair loss. It is the only hair re-growth product approved for men and women. A dermatologist may combine minoxidil with another treatment.
Men taking Propecia run the risk of sexual side effects, but most experts say that it only affects a small minority. The risks are greater for women, especially those who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Experts warn that so much as handling the tablets can lead to serious birth defects. Like minoxidil, Propecia use must be continued for as long as results are desired.
decrease in your blood Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA) levels. Finasteride can affect a blood test called PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) for the screening of prostate cancer. If you have a PSA test done you should tell your healthcare provider that you are taking Finasteride because Finasteride decreases PSA levels. Changes in PSA levels will need to be evaluated by your healthcare provider. Any increase in follow-up PSA levels from their lowest point may signal the presence of prostate cancer and should be evaluated, even if the test results are still within the normal range for men not taking Finasteride. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you have not been taking Finasteride as prescribed because this may affect the PSA test results. For more information, talk to your healthcare provider.
"I recommend that everyone [with any hair loss] take finasteride," says Robert M. Bernstein, MD. Bernstein is associate clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University and founder of the Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration. "To patients who are younger,” he says, “I also recommend minoxidil. But the mainstay is finasteride. The data show that, over five years, it significantly retards hair loss in 85% of users."
In-office laser light treatments or at-home handheld devices, such as the HairMax LaserComb, supposedly grow new hair by stimulating blood flow to the area (think: an amped-up version of a scalp-stimulating shampoo). Just don’t expect the device to make your noggin go from looking like George Costanza’s to Jerry Seinfeld’s. “These lasers won’t grow any new hair. If anything, they may just help you hang on to some of the hair that you already have a bit longer,” says Dr. Joyce.
“We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale that a guy’s hair is based on their mother’s father. That’s sort of true, but it’s not,” said primary care physician Dr. John Hong. “It’s really the total number of guys in your family that have male pattern baldness that will affect your risk, particularly your dad. If your dad is bald, you’re more likely to be bald.”
Help hair loss and regrow fuller hair with Women's Rogaine 2% Minoxidil Topical Solution. Ideal for use at the early stages of hair thinning, this fast-working hair loss treatment is specially formulated for women and is clinically proven to regrow up to 25% more hair. Unlike hair loss shampoos and hair thickening products that temporarily plump hair from the outside, Rogaine penetrates the scalp to reactivate shrunken hair follicles. The 2% Minoxidil formula works to boost hair follicle activity and hair protein production, allowing for regrowth of hair. This women’s hair regrowth treatment comes in a topical solution that is easy to use: Simply apply 1 milliliter directly to your scalp twice daily and massage it through your hair. And like all Rogaine products, this thinning hair treatment is designed to fit easily into your daily beauty regimen.
The Rogaine rep we spoke to explained that the different packaging (and therefore different prices) has to do with the FDA-approval process: “We discovered in clinical trials that the hair loss patterns between men and women are different,” she said by way of explanation. “Men typically have that bald spot on the crown of their head, where women generally have a general thinning throughout, but concentrated more on the top of the head. So for FDA approval, we had to come up with two different, gender-specific products, so the directions were more explanatory.”
Some companies market special hair growth vitamins and supplements that you can buy to make it easier for you to stay healthy and help prevent hair loss. In general, however, all you need to do is make sure that you are getting enough protein in your diet (eating lots of protein-rich foods like dark green leafy vegetables, fish, eggs and beans), and the right levels of iron, zinc and vitamin A. B, C and folic acid.
You may have seen the ads in the back of men's magazines, you've heard the commercials on the radio, and you've seen the infomercials promoting miracle treatments for hair loss. The bottom line is that most advertised "treatments" do not work for the prevention and treatment of hair loss. If a hair loss treatment is not approved by the FDA or recommended by the American Hair Loss Association, chances are you are wasting your time and money.
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Its applications are many, and some researchers believe that it may help with hair loss from alopecia areata. How? The needles inserted into the scalp may help stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. More research needs to be done in this area, but consider asking your doctor for a referral to a licensed acupuncturist if this treatment sounds appealing to you. (Learn more about acupuncture for hair loss.)
Side effects and concerns: Around the time new hair growth starts, some women experience folliculitis (inflammation of the follicle). This minor complication can be treated with compresses and antibiotics. A more serious hazard is shock loss, the sudden loss of hair that normally grows in the area of the transplant. Shock loss affects 30% to 50% of female hair-transplant recipients; fortunately, the loss is usually temporary, and the hair will regrow. One drawback is that there's a finite amount of donor hair, and it may not be enough to fill in the transplant site as densely as before, especially if the area of thinning hair is large. A transplant procedure can cost from $4,000 to $15,000 and is rarely covered by insurance.
Some treatments in development hold particular promise for women. Angela Christiano, a hair geneticist and Columbia University professor of dermatology, is hoping to begin clinical trials in a year or two on a procedure in which she dissects hair-follicle stem cells, grows them in the lab until she has several million, then injects them into the scalp, where, a very small study done with a human skin model has shown, they induce new hairs.
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