A Yale study once found that people’s self-esteem goes awry when their hair is out of place. So just imagine what losing hair can do to a person’s state of mind. Fortunately, we live in an age in which there are plenty of treatments for alopecia and other forms or hair loss. We’ve compiled the most popular remedies (including some natural ones) in this handy guide so you and your doctor can decide which one is right for you.
What are some of the reasons behind hair loss?
A healthy person loses between 50 and 100 strands of hair a day. These tend to grow back almost immediately, except for people who suffer from alopecia (hair loss). In these cases, hair loss becomes a chronic issue which becomes more and more noticeable as time goes by.
Keep in mind: The main reason behind alopecia is hereditary but can also be the result of stress, medications, illnesses and medical procedures such as radiation therapy.
Below you’ll find some of the reasons behind hair loss.
The condition commonly known as male or female pattern baldness is actually called androgenetic alopecia. It usually begins around a patient’s 20s and intensifies as he or she grows older. It may, however, appear during a patient’s 50s.
It’s most common among men and usually begins on the top or the front parts of the head, making its way to the back. In women, it usually begins with a diminishing thickness of the strains of hair, which then results in scarcity of the hair altogether, without ever reaching complete baldness.
Keep in mind: Although genes play a major role, not all people whose parents suffer from pattern baldness are affected by it themselves.
The same way healthy foods provide nutrients to our organs, those with low amounts of nutrients can negatively affect them. Hair is no exception. Nevertheless, it must be noted that an unhealthy diet is not necessarily a cause for hair loss but it can affect the speed in which it grows back.
Although there aren’t many scientific studies around it, there are a few that have found a connection between people with hair loss and bad diets. This is most evident in patients who don’t consume a healthy intake of fruits and vegetables. This can, however, have to do with when and how we consume these foods too.
Keep in mind: Some eating disorders could also lead to hair being weaker, thinner and dryer than usual, which may eventually lead to progressive hair loss, also called diffuse alopecia. In most of these cases, alopecia is reversible if the cause behind it is handled. Nervous anorexia is one of the disorders that may produce this condition, as well as zinc and iron deficiencies.
If we don’t take care of our mental health, our body will begin to feel the effects. And our scalp might be one of the first areas to show the signs. High levels of stress are associated to three types of alopecia:
- Alopecia areata. Even though there is no consensus around what causes it, some doctors believe that it may appear after a traumatic episode or situations that involve a lot of stress. Nevertheless, it’s clear that it’s an autoimmune disease, which means it causes the immune system to attack hair follicles and damage them. In the first stages of alopecia areata, a small coin-shaped bald spot appears. It may then spread not only to the head but also to the face and other parts of the body. This condition affects both men and women alike and can get even worse when paired with other ailments like psoriasis and rhinitis.
- Trichotillomania. This is a type of impulsive control disorder that pushes people to pull hairs from their scalp, eyebrows and other parts of their body until they detach completely. It’s a condition in which the person cannot stop their actions, becoming an almost compulsive behavior accompanied by a feeling of denial.
- Telogen effluvium. This condition produces an increase in hair loss which can be evident during the normal telogen phase. During this phase, 10% of the hair in our head is ready to fall in a period of about 100 days. When this percentage increases, the doctor may consider that telogen effluvium has taken place. Compared to other conditions, this one doesn’t follow a specific pattern. Hair can disappear in a very irregular manner. It’s usually a temporary condition that doesn’t last more than 6 months. If it goes beyond that then it may become chronic. Stress may be one of the reasons behind telogen effluvium but not the only one.
Alopecia can be associated with hormone problems in both men and women. There are 2 types of hormone conditions in which a person can suffer hair loss: issues with sexual hormones or thyroid issues. Some of the following cases may also affect hair loss:
Menopause. Because of hormonal imbalance there may be an effect on the thickness of hair strains, as well a reduction in the amount of overall hair.
Pregnancy. Because of a larger production of hormones during gestation, the volume of hair increases but then rapidly decreases after giving birth, eventually resulting in hair loss.
Ovarian cycle. An estrogen deficiency during menstruation causes hair to lose its thickness and become weak.
Oral birth control. Some birth control pills contain progestins which can negatively affect the growth of hair.
Deficiency in the thyroid hormones. When the thyroid gland doesn’t work properly it can cause hormone production to go haywire, altering the hair’s normal growth process or cycle.
A lot of medication or supplements can lead to hair loss as a side effect. Among the most common ones is cancer medication which can cause hair to thin. However this doesn’t happen with every patient, which makes it very hard to predict. Hair loss is not limited to the scalp either. It may affect the genital area, extremities and even the face.
Keep in mind: Some of the medication that may produce hair loss falls into the following groups:
Antidepressants (doxepin, fluoxetine, amitriptyline)
Hypocholesterolemic agents (fenofibrate, cholestyramine and niacin)
Immunosuppressants (steroids and leflunomide)
Antihypertensives (captopril, metoprolol, propranolol, ramipril, and enalapril)
Antibiotics (gentamicin, nitrofurantoin, and ethambutol)
Antivirals (cidofovir and indinavir)
Antifungals (clotrimazole, itraconazole, fluconazole, and terbinafine)
NSAIDs (aspirin, naproxen, ibuprofen, diclofenac, and indomethacin)
Hairdos and hair treatments
A type of hair loss called traction alopecia is caused by hairdos that damage your hair by stretching it too much. This is the reason why the use of ponytails and braids is discouraged. Traction alopecia can affect girls in preschool and young women because of the frequency with which they use ponytails and braids. Sometimes this type of alopecia is reversible but in some cases it can evolve into permanent scarring alopecia.
Hair treatments that affect follicles and the integrity of your hair in general can include applying hot oils and perms, not to mention chemicals that can damage the scalp to the point of causing baldness.
6 Natural Remedies for Hair Loss
Before diving into this subject, it’s important to keep in mind that all natural remedies should be supervised by a licensed health professional. Components in each and every one of the remedies listed below can affect different people in very different ways and the dosages must be adjusted properly.
At SABEResPODER we wish to make health available for all our community which is why we’ve collected some of the best natural remedies for hair loss:
During the last few years, red onion has become a popular natural remedy to combat different ailments, either by consuming it or by applying it directly to your skin. This last one is precisely the technique required for hair loss treatments.
Keep in mind: Even though studies on the matter are scarce, some have shown that red onion is efficient as a hair loss treatment, specifically in patients with alopecia areata.
In this study, 37 patients were divided into two groups. 23 were treated with red onion juice in topical form and 15 were treated with plain tap water. Results confirmed that red onion stimulated the growth of new hair after 2 weeks of treatment. The effect was greater among men and outperformed the results from the tap water.
The benefits of red onion can be attributed to its high sulfur content, as well as its large amount of antioxidants and nutrients that are known to strengthen hair.
It’s been used over the years against constipation, skin burns, diabetes and many other ailments and is very popular among latin communities. Nevertheless, there is still no concrete scientific argument that backs all of its benefits.
Somes studies suggest that its benefits for hair can be traced to its properties, which affect blood flow, improve oxygenation and foster nutrients for hair follicles. On the other hand, its use has become quite popular against seborrheic dermatitis.
The berries from this fruit come from the southeastern US and are known to balance testosterone levels. Scientific investigation has so far only confirmed its properties against cancer and its anti-inflammatory effects. Nevertheless, some studies suggest that saw palmetto could have positive results against hair loss.
According to popular belief, saw palmetto can stimulate hair growth in people who suffer from male pattern baldness. It’s possible to consume it in teas, tablets, capsules or extracts. It is contraindicated in:
Women who are still breastfeeding
Women who are looking to get pregnant
As with saw palmetto, this natural remedy can help against male pattern baldness thanks to its alleged properties that limit testosterone from becoming an active component that causes hair loss. The product that is actually used is the oil that’s extracted from the seed which can be consumed orally or topically. Its properties have been studied but are not currently supported by any scientific study per se.
This 2014 study may just be the best piece of scientific proof around the benefits of pumpkin seeds against hair loss. Patients that ingested a supplement containing the seeds saw their hair grow 30% more than those who took the placebo.
Green tea contains antioxidants (mainly EGCG) that can help your body in many different ways. Besides helping reduce the risk of heart disease it can also:
Prevent hair loss
Stimulate hair growth.
Nurtures hair follicles.
Although many of these benefits aren’t backed up by scientific studies, there are some researchers that suggest it is beneficial to hair. Green tea can be used in:
Homemade shampoo prepared with tea infusions
A Healthy Diet
Hair growth can be positively affected by the nutrients you ingest, such as biotin, L-lisine and cysteine. The full list of nutrients is very long but the overall recommendation is to consume a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, high-quality proteins and enough liquids.
Other Alternatives Against Hair Loss
Besides the aforementioned remedies, there are many other options at your disposal to tackle hair loss, including surgeries, laser therapies and medication that has been scientifically proven to be successful.
All of the following medication has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to deal with hair loss. It’s important to point out that all medication should be supervised by a licensed medic so ask your doctor if the medication on the list is right for you.
Keep in mind: The FDA recently approved the first pill to specifically treat severe alopecia areata in the United States. Its name is Olumiant (baricitinib) and acts by inhibiting Janus kinase (JAK). The primary measurement of efficacy for both trials was the proportion of patients who achieved at least 80% scalp hair coverage at week 36.
Hair restoration surgery
This intervention is very popular among patients with alopecia. The procedure involves transferring small batches of hair from healthy areas to affected areas. The results show permanent restoration where hair wouldn’t normally grow.
This is an alternative for patients who suffer alopecia caused by medical procedures such as chemotherapy. It involves cooling the scalp with hypothermia caps or ice packs during and after the procedure.
Even though studies aren’t definitive, this technique has been shown to increase hair density. The FDA approved a low level laser device called LaserComb from HairMax to treat hereditary alopecia.
9 Tips to Strengthen Your Hair
It’s important that you don’t wait for hair loss to affect you before taking good care of your hair. There are a lot of things you can do today that will translate into healthy hair for the rest of your life. Here are some:
Choose the right products to wash your hair. It’s important to go to a specialist to evaluate and advise on the best ingredients available for your type of scalp and hair.
Protect your hair from UV rays. The same way your skin can suffer from overexposure to sun rays, your hair can become dehydrated, suffer depigmentation and even lose nutrients.
Follow a healthy diet. Not just to strengthen your hair, but to improve your energy and overall mental and physical wellbeing.
Keep stress at bay. We know the daily grind can translate into stress. Even though this may be difficult to avoid sometimes, you can still incorporate different activities to deal with it, such as exercising, dancing or taking a trip.
Avoid damaging your hair. Frequently pulling your hair back, brushing it while it’s wet and using ponytails or braids are all ways you can harm your hair. Try to use hairbrushes with separated bristles and avoid brushing when wet.
Be cautious of hair treatments. Many treatments out there contain strong, harmful chemicals for your hair. It’s important to check that these components are as healthy as possible.
Wash your hair properly. Popular belief states that you have to rub your hair vigorously to clean it. The truth is that it’s not the case. By delicately massaging it, you can not only clean it but stimulate oxygenation and circulation in the area.
Reduce hair ironing and drying. These two techniques can be too aggressive for your hair which is why you should reduce their frequency or even avoid them entirely.
Treat dermatological ailments as soon as they arise. Your scalp may suffer from dermatological ailments such as seborrheic dermatitis. If that’s the case, see a doctor and check it out immediately.
When Should You Go See a Doctor for Your Hair Loss?
If you start to notice hair loss becoming very frequent or unusual, you should go see a specialist. You could be suffering from an anomaly that could be causing alopecia and it’s up to a doctor to determine what actions to take based upon further studies. He will also be in charge of determining your treatment.
It’s also important to point out that medical consultations should be in order not only for advanced hair loss in your head but in any other parts of the body. At PODERsalud we offer you immediate medical assistance available over the phone. Don’t hesitate to call a medical professional.
Start taking care of your hair!
Nowadays there are many alternatives out there for alopecia treatments. It’s up to you and your doctor to determine which one is right for you. We hope that the information we’ve put at your disposal will guide you through all the options available to treat hair loss and even prevent it. Your smile alone can be a marvelous greeting card, but hair can also do wonders for a first impression. And taking care of it is well within your reach.
Other health guides