Hair loss is a common problem that afflicts both men and women. The most common type of hair loss is male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia) which accounts for 95% of hair loss cases and affects 85% of men to some extent by age 50, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
Hair loss is not life threatening but can severely affect a person’s self-confidence and social life. An online dating experiment cited on Mensfitness.com found that men with a full head of hair are five times more likely to get a response than their balding equivalents. Female pattern baldness, though less pronounced and less common, follows the same mechanism as the male variety.
Balding And Thinning Hair Remedies
The only FDA recognized drugs for pattern hair loss are Propecia and Rogaine. Propecia, also known as Finasteride, works by blocking the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the specific androgen responsible for genetically predisposed hair loss. Propecia is only effective in men, stopping further hair loss in over 80% of men. Nearly 70% also experience increased hair growth. It is taken orally and should be taken continuously or hair loss will resume. According to Yale.edu, finasteride is suspected to cause impotence in about 2% of users, but this is reversible by discontinuing use.
Rogaine (Minoxidil) is applied topically to the scalp and can be used by both men and women, although stronger concentrations (>5%) are only approved for men. According to the official Rogaine website, it works by “reactivating your hair’s natural growth cycle by reinvigorating hair follicles that are shrunken due to hereditary hair loss.” Typically, use must continue indefinitely to see long-term results. Side effects include itching and scaling of the scalp.
A variety of corticosteroids called Prednisone is FDA approved for a type of hair loss called alopecia areata, a type of baldness resulting from a rare genetic disorder that causes the immune system to destroy the hair follicles. A study published in the August 2014 issue of Nature Medicine also proved the efficacy of two immune pathway inhibitors, ruxolitinib and tofacitinib, which help to speed up the recovery from alopecia areata.
Hair transplant surgery is cited on Yale.edu as the most common cosmetic procedure among men. It involves the removal of hair from the back and sides of the head and moving it to areas of the scalp that have lost hair. Hundreds or even thousands of grafts can be transplanted in a single session. Therefore, adequate hair density is achieved very quickly.
Other surgical procedures include scalp reduction which can be combined with scalp transplantation. Scalp transplantation involves moving a piece of hair-bearing scalp from the back of the head to bald areas on top and front of the head. Between 95-98% of grafts grow successfully when done properly.
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
This technique has long been known to induce tissue repair and has recently been adopted to induce rejuvenation of dormant hair follicles. Experts continue to debate its efficacy. A 2014 study involving a total of 267 subjects conducted at the University of Miami showed that terminal hair density and thickness of hair increased by at least 20.2 strands per cm2 after 26 weeks of LLLT. No safety concerns were reported.
Many natural recipes hailed as cures for hair loss have little scientific basis and generally lack efficacy. Self-inflicted hair loss can be mitigated by avoiding hair tugging and tight hair styles. Good stress management is cited by WebMD as an efficient way of curbing hair loss. Proper nutrition and the use of certain foods and supplements can also have positive results. You can learn more about using diet to stop hair loss and regrow hair by reading this article at NewspaperCat.org.
Many promising balding and thinning hair remedies are in the works, and many experts believe efficient and permanent hair loss remedies are just a few years away. One of the latest possible mitigations to emerge is a technique called quorum sensing.
The technique which was developed at the University of Southern California and was first published in the April issue of the Cell journal involves plucking hairs to induce new hair growth. In a somewhat surprising twist, researchers found that by plucking mouse hairs, they could induce the growth of stronger hair from the dormant follicles. They hope to extend this technique to human use in the near future.
Other promising techniques for the future include stem cell therapy, topical PGF2a analogues, and advanced hormone therapy.