Addressing Hair Loss
The sooner you act, the greater your chances of holding on to the hair you have
We all shed some of our hair every day as part of our body's natural process. Serious thinning, however, is a concern for many people--whether you're young or old, male or female, blond or brunette. The good news is that science and medicine continue to discover solutions for slowing or halting hair loss.
Get to the root of the cause
Before seeking out the "cure," you'll first want to determine the cause. Treatments may vary depending on the nature of your hair loss:
- "Pattern baldness" (most often referred to as "male-pattern baldness") is a common, inherited type of hair loss that is usually associated with men, but may occur in women, too.
- Underlying medical conditions, such as iron-deficiency anemia, hormonal imbalances, and thyroid problems can cause shedding. Hair loss may also be a side effect of certain medications.
- Intense stress or trauma can trigger telogen effluvium, a temporary hair loss condition most common in women. This kind of hair loss can also occur post-pregnancy.
Brush up on treatment alternatives
Start by talking to your healthcare provider or a hair loss specialist. They will help you separate fact from fiction so you can avoid products that are known to over-promise and under-deliver. The following are several treatments that may be beneficial:
- Over-the-counter treatments--Minoxidil, a topical formula applied to the scalp, is USFDA-approved and may help both women and men preserve their existing hair.
- Prescription treatments--Finasteride, USFDA-approved for men only, is available in pill form and may promote both retention and regrowth.
- Natural treatments--Some men see positive results from taking the herbal supplement saw palmetto. More research is needed before it is known whether saw palmetto is safe and effective for women.
- Diet therapy--Though there seems to be agreement that wholesome nutrition can, in some cases, reduce or prevent the problem, research has not yet pinpointed a "magic formula." Talking to a knowledgeable, experienced nutritionist may provide some guidance on foods to eat or avoid, but until more is known, people with hair loss concerns would at least be well advised to eat a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, and take a multivitamin supplement.
Take steps now to end the thinning
The sooner you act, the greater your chances of holding on to the hair you have.
- Step 1--Consult your healthcare provider or a hair loss specialist for diagnosis and to discuss possible side effects from treatment.
- Step 2--Start the treatment of choice as soon as possible, since treatments are usually more successful at stopping the loss than stimulating new growth.
- Step 3--Give the treatment time to work. Six to twelve months may pass before you see results.
Focus on your favorite features instead
Once you know why your hair is thinning, you'll be better prepared to take action--or choose not to take action at all. Remember, millions of people in all parts of the world lose their hair as part of the body's natural aging process. Rather than seek treatment, they simply choose to live happily with less hair.
Tamara Seymour writes on a variety of topics, including health, travel, and education. She has always thought her father very handsome, even though he had lost much of his hair by the time he was 30.