Yara Zakharia, Esq.
It is estimated that more than 80 million men and women in North America suffer from hair loss. Among Anglo males in their forties, 40% show marked hair loss. Nearly 66% of men develop androgenetic alopecia or pattern balding as they age. On average, an activity such as brushing one's hair or showering can result in the loss of 60-100 hairs per day. It is only when hairs of the scalp lose their coarseness and more hair is shed than the scalp is able to produce that hair loss becomes problematic.
Causes of Hair Loss
While the leading cause of hair loss in men and women is genetics, there are numerous other triggers for this condition including the following:
- Overproduction of dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
- Hormonal imbalances
- Vitamin B-12 deficiency
- Zinc and iron deficiencies
- Protein deficiency
- Biotin deficiency
- Lack of inosito and folic acid
- Diseases such as thyroid, cancer, diabetes, and alopecia areata
- Fungus infection of the scalp
- Severe dandruff
- Hardened cholesterol and sebum plugs
Hair Loss Treatment
Hair loss treatment prevents hair loss from progressing, thus benefiting its subjects both aesthetically and psychologically. Hair restoration and hair treatment lead to an improvement in general well-being and self-confidence concerning one's appearance. Effective hair loss treatment, however, hinges upon early intervention since continued alopecia may eliminate many of the hair follicles. The best treatments are those that stimulate hair growth and target the source of the hair loss.
The American Hair Loss Association (AHLA) advises consumers to steer clear of products that are not FDA-approved or recommended by AHLA. Individuals experiencing hair loss may avail themselves of numerous clinically-proven treatment options, such as the following:
Recommended by AHLA, this drug inhibits an enzyme (Type II 5 alpha-reductace) that produces DHT and that targets the root of the hair. The shrinking of the hair follicle, which eventually culminates in baldness, is attributed to DHT. By reducing DHT levels, individuals can stop hair loss dead in its tracks. Marketed as the first prescription medication to effectively tackle pattern baldness in most men, finasteride retards hair loss and generates strong, coarse hair in some men. For 50% of males in the 18-41 age bracket, it boasts excellent results. Studies have shown that with 1 mg of finasteride taken daily, individuals with hair loss can reduce their DHT levels by up to 60%. A vast majority of consumers who take finasteride substantially increase their hair count.
This FDA-approved drug, which is rubbed on the scalp, increases blood flow to the hair follicles. It may be purchased over-the-counter either as a 5% solution for men only or a 2% formula for men and women. Studies have shown that it promotes the growth of hair follicles and slows the process of hair loss. The AHLA recommends minoxidil for individuals seeking a drug to complement their current treatment and those who have not benefited from finasteride.
Minoxidil has proven to be even more promising in treating pattern hair loss in women than in men, halting hair loss and slowing the progress of baldness in the vast majority of cases.
Cimetine (its generic name), which boasts strong anti-androgenic properties, has proven to be effective in treating androgenetic alopecia.
Hormone replacement therapy
Estrogen and progesterone creams and pills are another treatment method for androgenetic alopecia.
Low-androgen contraceptive pills
Oral contraceptives treat hair loss by lowering the production of androgens.
Sold under the brand name Aldactone, this drug is a water pill that inhibits androgen production in the ovaries and adrenal glands.
This topical treatment, which acts as anti-androgen agent, treats hair loss by decreasing the production of androgens such as testosterone
Follicular unit extraction
Also referred to as micro follicular extraction, this procedure involves the removal of hair follicles, one at a time, from a donor area- typically the chest, back of the head or other- to a recipient area for hair transplant purposes.
Herbal supplements and vitamins
Some effective nutritional products for proper hair growth include saw palmetto extract, zinc, iron, vitamin B-12, insositol, folic acid, biotin, and the amino acid cysteine.
Commercial products for hair loss treatment include items such as special shampoos used to decrease the likelihood of hair loss.
Surgical options for hair loss treatment and hair replacement include hair transplant surgery, scalp flaps, and scalp reduction, the latter consisting of eliminating prominent portions of bald scalp from the patient's head.
[page updated December 2008]