Know how to handle and control hair loss
That’s why scientists—who may be thinning up top themselves—have put balding in their crosshairs. Read on for new ways to save what’s there, regain what’s gone, or—if it comes to it—learn that you can lose and still win.
1. FIND THE CAUSE OF BALDNESS
Doctors often diagnose balding by sight alone: If your hair is only on the sides and middle top of your head, the bare areas form the letter M (as in male-pattern baldness). But thinning that spreads across your scalp and not to your crown or temples often indicates an underlying health issue.
“Hormonal or nutritional deficiencies, such as thyroid problems, low iron, or low protein, can cause shedding,” says Carolyn Jacob, M.D., the founder of Chicago Cosmetic Surgery and Dermatology.
In other words, “don’t assume it’s genetic,” says Marc Avram, M.D., a clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College.
One hitch: A discernible pattern may take years to emerge, so pinpointing the cause simply by the look of your locks may be difficult.
That’s why Dr. Avram suggests seeing a dermatologist as soon as thinning begins so you can have a scalp biopsy to rule out worrisome triggers. To find a dermatologist specializing in hair loss, go to aad.org/find-a-derm, enter your zip code, and select “hair disorders” as the specialty.
2. SIDE WITH THE SCIENCE ON BALDNESS
Late-night TV ads offer legit fixes for many problems—stains, clogged gutters, subpar pancakes—but balding isn’t one of them.
“Be wary of infomercials or Internet ads touting hair-growing shampoos or pills,” warns Marc Glashofer, M.D., a dermatologist in Long Beach, New York, who specializes in hair loss. “Most haven’t been clinically studied and are usually a waste of your money.”
Stick with the drugs that have been green-lighted by the FDA: finasteride (Propecia) and minoxidil (Rogaine).
“Both are better at maintaining what you have than regrowing what you lost,” says George Cotsarelis, M.D., a professor of dermatology at the University of Pennsylvania.
Propecia works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to DHT, but there’s a major side effect to consider: It could mess with nerve-signaling pathways to your penis, resulting in ED and a loused-up libido, a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found.
Dr. Cotsarelis says most men don’t experience these side effects, but if you’re uneasy about the ED risk, skip the Propecia.
(To learn more about the popular baldness remedy’s side effects, discover The Truth About Propecia.)
As for Rogaine, it’s thought to stimulate hair growth, although scientists aren’t sure how.
“Rogaine often gets a bad rap because people don’t use it correctly,” Dr. Cotsarelis says. “You have to use Rogaine at least twice a day and for at least six months before you see any results. It can actually cause shedding in the first month or two.”
In other words, don’t give up after just a week of slathering it on your scalp.
3. SWITCH SHAMPOOS TO PREVENT BALDNESS
Dozens of shampoos claim to make your hair look thicker, but only one ingredient has been shown to truly preserve your pate: Ketoconazole, an antifungal used to fight dandruff, may save your mane by reducing production of testosterone (and therefore DHT) in hair follicles, say scientists at the University of British Columbia.
In fact, in a Belgian study, balding men who used a 1 percent ketoconazole shampoo two or three times a week for six months saw a 17 percent reduction in hair shedding.
Time to know about LaoFoYe’s Hair Loss/Genetic Hair Loss Treatment.