Some 30 million women in the United States have hereditary hair loss (compared with 50 million men), according to the American Academy of Dermatology, though that figure does not include the millions more who struggle with thinning hair because of pregnancy, menopause, stress and other health conditions. Barely 5 percent of women are said to be good candidates for hair transplant surgery because women lose hair everywhere, meaning that, unlike with men, there is rarely a luxuriant spot on the back of the head from which to harvest hairs unobtrusively.
The American Hair Loss Association still recommends the drug for those who have not responded favorably to finasteride treatment or for those who would like to add another product to their regimen. The AHLA does not recommend minoxidil as the first line of attack for men suffering with male pattern baldness, but does recognize it as an effective treatment for a small percentage of its users.
The causes behind other types of hair loss -- including alopecia areata, telogen effluvium, anagen effluvium and traction alopecia -- and their treatment can be dramatically different. Hair loss is best treated in association with its underlying cause; therefore, it's recommend to seek medical help. Abnormal hair loss can also be a symptom of a more serious disease -- early diagnosis is strongly suggested in these cases.
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.)
The only nonchemical option offered up by the dermatologists I spoke with — short of a surgical hair transplant or platelet-rich plasma therapy, which is like Kim Kardashian’s vampire facial but for your scalp — was the laser comb. First cleared by the FDA in 2009, the HairMax LaserComb is a handheld laser device that is designed to promote hair growth. As the manufacturer explains in a letter to the FDA, “The device provides distributed laser light to the scalp while the comb teeth simultaneously part the user’s hair to ensure the laser light reaches the user’s scalp,” which, in turn, stimulates the hair follicles.
Central centrifugal cicatricial (scarring) alopecia: This type of hair loss occurs most often in women of African descent. It begins in the center of the scalp. As it progresses, the hair loss radiates out from the center of the scalp. The affected scalp becomes smooth and shiny. The hair loss can be very slow or rapid. When hair loss occurs quickly, the person may have tingling, burning, pain, or itching on the scalp. Treatment may help the hair re-grow if scarring has not occurred.
It can cause unwanted hair growth. Some women may experience facial hair growth when they use minoxidil. That can happen if the medication trickles down onto your face or simply as a side effect when you apply it only to your scalp. The risk is lower for women who use the 2 percent concentration of the drug, as opposed to the 5 percent concentration that’s designed for men.
While biotin is a type of vitamin that plays a functional role in hair growth, there are other vitamins that can help improve the overall health of your hair. Vitamin E is one such key vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and helps to reduce the oxidative stress on your scalp. This greatly affects hair growth, and this was proven by a study published in the Tropical Life Sciences Research journal (2). Another vitamin that is useful is vitamin C. It removes the dead cells build-up from the scalp and unclogs the hair follicles. This can improve hair growth as well (3). Vitamin C tablets can be added to a carrier oil and used to massage the scalp. Internal supplements of both these vitamins also help.
"Firstly, even the very good ones won’t get to the root of the issue - pardon the pun - and prevent or treat male or female pattern baldness which is caused by genetics, nor deal with hormonal issues at the heart of female hair loss. But they can help make the hair you do have stronger and healthier. And they can be useful in putting a hair loss regime in place, along with medication like Minoxidil or Finasteride and/ or a hair transplant.
This hair loss treatment for men from the company Kirkland Signature is a topical solution and comes with a six month supply. Each month, a 2 oz. the bottle will be used by applying the solution to the scalp. The bottles can be sprayed onto the scalp, but the solution works more effectively if applied to the fingertips and massaged into the scalp directly.
Regrow thicker, beautiful hair with Women's ROGAINE® Hair Regrowth Treatment, Once-a-Day Foam. Containing 5% minoxidil, this foam reactivates hair follicles to regrow hair. The only once-daily hair regrowth treatment for women approved by the FDA, this formula is proven to help regrow hair in 81%* of women, with clinical results in as little as 12 weeks and visible results with continuous daily use after 24 weeks. From the #1 dermatologist recommended brand, the once-a-day applied foam can fit into your regular beauty routine. This package of Women's ROGAINE® Foam includes one 60-gram can, a 2-month supply.
"I had my hair cut short a year ago for medical reasons and have been trying to grow it for the last 6 months but it was taking so long and seemed to get to a certain length and the stop. But after using your product my hair has grown so rapidly and is so much healthier now. So I wanted to thank you for developing this product which has helped to give me my confidence back."
Laser devices: Brushes, combs, and other hand-held devices that emit laser light might stimulate hair growth. These devices might make hair look more youthful in some people. Because the FDA classifies these products as medical devices, the products do not undergo the rigorous testing that medicines undergo. The long-term effectiveness and safety for these devices are not known.
Instead, you may want to add vitamin D (about $15) to your shopping cart. A vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate hair thinning and make it almost impossible for any over-the-counter product to reverse hair loss, says Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York City, who recommends taking 5,000 international units of D3 a day (and it’s generally beneficial for bone health in women over 40). “There’s also a link between low iron and zinc levels and temporary hair shedding, called [telogen] effluvium,” says Rogers.
If you’re a gentleman who’s been noticing a receding hairline or is worried about balding, the first step is to schedule a visit with a doctor or dermatologist and make sure your hair loss isn’t a sign of a more serious health issue. “Not all hair loss is male-pattern hair loss,” explains Dr. Marc Glashofer, a board-certified dermatologist specializing in hair loss and practicing in northern New Jersey. A thyroid disorder, an autoimmune disease, or even a scalp issue could be making you look like Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2. But most hair loss is androgenetic alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness, and fortunately (or not, depending on your perspective), it’s just a symptom of getting older.
Did you know the average woman is born with about 100,000 hair follicles on her head--and she keeps them for the rest of her life? Most women lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day. If your hair is healthy, it will grow back on its own. But if you're one of the 30 million women in America who experience hereditary hair loss, you may be losing 150 hairs or more a day--hair that doesn't grow back as thick and healthy as it once was.
Men may also experience some sexual and emotional side effects while taking it: In a study published in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Michael Irwig of George Washington University found as many as 92 percent of test subjects reporting problems in the bedroom. The study also reported that “the mean duration of finasteride use was 28 months and the mean duration of persistent sexual side effects was 40 months,” meaning that side effects lingered long after subjects stopped taking the pill.
The trick about all of these hair-loss products and treatments is that they’ll stop working as soon as you stop using them. “They have to be ready for a lifetime commitment,” says Rieder. But, just like brushing your teeth, as long you keep on keeping on with the scientifically proven preventative treatments, those hairs on your head should be just fine.
As with transplants, the word toupee conjures an outdated and disagreeable image. The 70s-style rugs have mostly been traded in for spiffier "hair replacement systems." But the basic concept -- a foreign object atop your head -- can only evolve so far. Of course, the effectiveness of hairpieces is tough to evaluate. You may spot an awful one now and then, but the ones you do spot are just the awful ones. Who knows how many masterpieces slip undetected under the radar?
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.