Healthy hair starts from within and it’s so important to know not only how to look after the your hair with good quality products but also how to look after it from within – living a healthy lifestyle, exercising, getting enough sleep and having the right nutrient and mineral intake will all play a part in keeping your hair and scalp healthy.
Iron, for example, is crucial in avoiding hair shedding and is important for carrying oxygen through your body as part of red blood cells and stimulating growth in hair. Vitamin D, Folic Acid/B9 and B12 are also beneficial nutrients in helping support cell division and hair growth and Vitamin D is also effective in reducing inflammation.
Hair loss is common but there are some things to look out for that may require a referral to a dermatologist or a trichologist:
- Excessive Hair Shedding occurs when follicles are prematurely triggered into a shedding phase; a normal rate is 10% but this can increase up to 35% with premature shedding. Common triggers for this are Iron deficiency, stress and anxiety, change in medication or change in diet and also post pregnancy. If you notice any of these triggers you may have excessive hair shedding, this can be helped with the intake of Iron; a 15/35mg of supplement is a recommended amount per day but it’s important not to overload on this. The key is constant use of low levels.
- Miniaturisation – Hormonal is a process which occurs when hormones interact with a follicle and cause it to gradually shrink until it eventually disappears. Unlike excessive hair shedding and scarring alopecia, which can happen very fast, this cause of hair loss can happen over years. This hair loss can happen through the follicles being sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) made from testosterone, causing hair loss in men and male pattern baldness. As this is a cause that can happen over some time, it’s important that you see your GP and ask for a referral to a trichologist as soon as possible. Trichologists will be able to recommend medication or treatment that can slow down the rate of loss and to help stimulate the scalp and hair follicles.
- Scarring Alopecia – Autoimmune occurs when the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks its own cell tissue causing temporary or permanent hair loss. As this can result in permanent hair loss, it’s incredibly important you see a trichologist to identify if it is temporary or permanent. A trichologist will be able to analyse if the skin tissue has been destroyed and if follicles are able to re-grow in this area or not and provide the best advice/treatment. If something doesn’t seem right with your hair, you notice a lot more hair being in your brush or in the shower, or you have a tingling or burning feeling on the scalp or more skin in their scalp than normal, these are all warning signs.
It’s important you see a reputable trichologist or Dermatologist to ensure the right treatment is provided – particularly in terms of scarring alopecia and miniaturisation, which can be permanent.
What causes hair loss?
- Over-treating your hair. This includes chemical treatments like color, perms, relaxers but also heat treatments like hair dryers, curling tongs and straighteners.
- Using harsh hair products, such as extreme-hold hair sprays and gels. Temporary color can also be harsh for your hair.
- Wearing your hair up too tightly. Whether you’re wearing an up-do or pulling your hair up in a ponytail for working out, this can tug on your hair and break it from the follicles, causing thin spots over time. Also frequently using clip in extensions or more permanent bonded extensions.
- Not getting enough iron, folic acid, and other minerals in your diet. These all help follicles produce hair naturally.
- Experiencing uncontrolled stress. Stress is related to an uptick in hormones like cortisol. Too many stress hormones may kill off new hairs that are trying to grow from the hair follicles.
There can be medical reasons that cause hair loss or thinning. Thinning hair may be hereditary. Underlying medical considerations can also lead to this condition, hormone imbalance or medication.
You might have thinning hair if you:
- Recently had a baby
- Stop taking contraceptive pill
- Hormonal changes like the Menopause
- Dramatic weight loss (lost more than 20 pounds in a short amount of time)
- Autoimmune disease
- Immune system deficiencies
- Skin disorder or infection
Less commonly, thinning hair may be caused by:
- Pulling at your own hair (a condition known as Trichotillomania)
- Eating disorders
- High Temperature or Fever
Thinning hair is sometimes confused with more serious alopecia, which is widespread hair loss. While thinning hair may eventually lead to hair loss, these two entities aren’t necessarily the same thing.
Hair Loss Treatments and Home Remedies
Most cases of thinning hair are treatable at home. All treatments, supplements or change in diet will take time to show results, talk to your GP or consultant before taking any supplements.
- Scalp Massage – Perhaps the cheapest method of getting thicker hair is a scalp massage. It doesn’t cost anything, and there are no side effects. When you wash your hair, gently apply pressure with your fingertips around your scalp to encourage blood flow. For even more benefits, you can try a handheld scalp massager to also remove dead skin cells.
- Essential Oils are liquids derived from certain plants, and they’re primarily used in aromatherapy and other types of alternative medicine. According to hair specialists the Mayo Clinic, lavender oil has been used with success by some people with pattern baldness. The oil is often combined with other types, such as those made from rosemary and thyme. Still, there’s not enough evidence that essential oils can treat baldness or thinning hair. If you do decide to give this treatment a go, make sure you test a small amount of the oil on your arm and wait 24 hours to see if any reaction develops. Redness, hives, or a rash could indicate an allergic reaction.
- Anti-thinning shampoo/Thickening Shampoo works in two ways. First, such products provide volume for your hair, so it looks thicker. This can be helpful for people who have thinning or naturally fine hair. Shampoos for thinning hair or hair loss also contain vitamins and amino acids that promise a healthier scalp to generate more hair over time. To get the best results, use products every day. You can also ask your healthcare provider about a prescription-strength version of the shampoo.
- Multivitamins Healthy hair is dependent on your overall good health. In cases of malnourishment, or with certain eating disorders, new hair may fail to generate from follicles. A blood test from your healthcare provider can help determine if you’re deficient in any nutrients. If you are low in several key areas, your healthcare provider might recommend a daily multivitamin. Healthy hair needs iron, folic acid, and zinc to keep growing thick and strong. However, the Mayo Clinic advises against taking any extra vitamins if you’re already getting the nutrients you need. This is because there isn’t any evidence that doing so will reverse thinning hair. Furthermore, getting too much of certain nutrients may actually do more harm than good.
- Folic acid supplements Folic acid is a type of B vitamin that’s important for new cell generation. In terms of thinning hair, folic acid is thought to help follicles generate new hair in balding areas. Still, as with multivitamins, there isn’t enough evidence that folic acid is guaranteed to help make your hair thicker.
- Biotin or vitamin B-7 A water-soluble nutrient that’s naturally found in foods such as nuts, lentils, and liver. If you eat a balanced diet, it’s unlikely that you’re low in biotin. However, supplemental forms of biotin have been on the rise in recent years, thanks in part to marketers promising more energy and better hair growth with such products. While biotin helps break down enzymes in your body, there’s little evidence that it can help with thinning hair. You shouldn’t take biotin if you take vitamin B-5 supplements — when taken together, these can reduce the efficacy of one another.
- Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are known as essential fatty acids. This is because they can’t be made by the human body. Omega-3 helps your body fight inflammation, an underlying cause of numerous conditions. Premature hair loss may also be related to inflammation. Omega-6, on the other hand, is important for overall skin health, which might benefit the scalp. Plant-based oils are primary sources of omega-6, while omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish. If you don’t normally consume such foods, talk to your doctor about using a supplement.
- Minoxidil Best known as its brand-name Rogaine, minoxidil is a hair loss treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that’s available over the counter. When applied directly to the scalp twice a day, you may gradually see thicker hair in balding spots. The product is available in either liquid or foam, depending on your preferences. Rogaine can take up to 16 weeks to take full effect, according to the Mayo Clinic. It’s important that you use the product consistently, or else you may not see results. Scalp irritation and unwanted hair growth on the face and neck are some possible side effects to look out for.
- Spironolactone (Aldactone) is prescribed for people who have thinning hair related to androgen production. While technically a “water pill,” Aldactone is an anti-androgen, too. In women, this medication may help treat thinning hair and subsequent hair loss related to hormonal fluctuations. A blood test is needed to make this determination beforehand.
- Finasteride (Propecia) is a prescription hair loss medication. It’s for men only. Unlike topical treatments like minoxidil, Propecia comes as a daily pill that men take for hair loss. Women should avoid these medications due to serious side effects — especially if you’re pregnant or nursing.
- Corticosteroids are prescription treatments used for conditions linked to underlying inflammation. Sometimes, inflammatory conditions can cause a variety of symptoms, including hair loss.
- Laser therapy is typically used by dermatologists and other skin specialists. Now, the FDA has cleared the way for some products to be used at home. At-home laser therapy for hair is intended to help regrow your hair while also making it thicker. The results can take several months to take effect. The biggest drawback of at-home laser therapy is the cost. Some machines are sold for hundreds of dollars, and they may not work. Talk to your healthcare provider before making such a large investment.
- Scalp Micropigmentation is a cosmetic tattooing treatment that helps camouflage hair loss by implanting tiny dots of ink into the scalp replicating the hair follicles. SMP works well for people who have permanently lost hair, creating the “buzz cut” look for men, but is also an effective solution for uneven or thinning hair adding density to sparse, fine hair. I often treat women affected by hormone related hair loss triggered by conditions such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome or Menopause. Scalp Micropigmentation can sometimes trigger regrowth as it is a form of micro trauma (controlled trauma) and encourages circulation to the skin feeding the follicles with nutrients which can promote regrowth.
- Microneedling and Mesotherapy A needling treatment that cause a tiny trauma to the skin triggering the skins healing mode. Encouraging circulation to the skin which feeds the cells and induces hair growth. Mesotherapy adds a specially targeted cocktail of unique active ingredients specially designed to maintain scalp vitality and act on follicle dysfunctions in order to achieve good anti-hair loss results and improve hair quality. The serum combines antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects with a hair growth stimulating effect.