Hair loss, also known as alopecia, and baldness are common in both men and women, and have many root causes, from harsh styling products and practices to medications, medical treatments, and genetics. And while hair loss is often unavoidable, it can still result in self-consciousness and a loss of self-confidence as the hairline affects the face’s overall appearance.
Fortunately, for those who find themselves negatively affected by hair loss, there are a number of treatments, including over-the-counter treatments and prescription medication.
What Causes Hair Loss?
There are a number of potential causes of hair loss. These include:
Genetics: This is the most common cause of hair loss. Hereditary hair loss, which occurs with age, is caused by a condition known as androgenic alopecia, also called male-pattern baldness and female-pattern baldness, and follows a distinct pattern along the scalp.
Hormone changes: Pregnancy or menopause, or medical issues such as thyroid conditions, can result in hormone shifts and subsequently can result in hair thinning and hair loss.
Medications: Some prescription medications can cause hair loss. Be sure to consult with your doctor to learn whether hair loss is a side effect of a type of medication that you take.
Radiation therapy: If you are undergoing radiation therapy to the head or near the head, you will likely experience hair loss.
Stress or anxiety: Sudden stressful events or long-term anxiety or stress issues can result in hair loss. Hair loss from stress can be caused by telogen effluvium, a condition that pushes hair follicles into a resting phase. Trichotillomania, a hair-pulling disorder, can also be triggered by stress.
Hairstyling and treatment: Some hairstyles or harsh chemical treatments can result in hair loss.
Do Hair Growth Products Work?
There are many hair growth products on the market that can be effective in treating hair loss and baldness. However, it’s important to research the ingredients in these products, to ensure you are purchasing the right type of treatment for your specific hair-loss concern. However, it is important to note that while many products can help treat hair loss, surgical solutions to hair loss and alopecia are the most reliable and long-lasting.
Effective Hair Loss Products
Some of the most effective hair loss on the market include Minoxidil (commonly sold as Rogaine) and Finasteride (commonly sold as Propecia). These are the only two ingredients approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for hair regrowth.
Minoxidil (Generic Rogaine®)
Minoxidil works to treat hair loss by partially enlarging hair follicles and making the hair’s growth phase (anagen phase) longer.
Finasteride (Generic Propecia®)
Finasteride, which is also sold under the brand name Propecia, works by decreasing the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a hormone in your body.
Other Ingredients for Hair Growth
There are a number of other over-the-counter supplements and products that can help with hair growth. While most of these ingredients may help improve hair’s appearance, it is important to note that none of them are approved as official treatments for hair loss.
Biotin and zinc: Biotin and zinc may be especially effective with patients who have alopecia.
Iron: If hair loss is due to an iron deficiency, iron supplements may help with regrowth.
Collagen: This protein helps promote healthy hair and skin, and may also help with regrowth.
Niacin: This vitamin can help promote hair fullness.
Caffeine: Caffeine can promote follicle stimulation.
Horsetail: The antioxidants and silicon in horsetail can promote hair growth.
Saw palmetto: This may work by blocking 5 alpha-reductase (5AR), an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.
Ginseng: The saponins in ginseng may help treat alopecia.
MSM: Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) is a sulphur chemical compound that has been shown to improve the appearance of hair and nails.
Are Hair Growth Products Safe?
While hair growth products are safe, there are many potential side effects. For ingested supplements and medications, these include nausea, bloating and stomach aches, fatigue, and headaches. Some topical treatments may cause rashes or skin irritation.
Pros and Cons About Hair Growth Products
While over-the-counter and prescription hair growth products can be affordable and easy to access, there are some downsides.
– Can improve hair’s appearance and fullness
– Easy to access
– May not be as effective as surgical solutions
– Can cause adverse reactions, such as skin irritation, nausea, or fatigue
– If they are ineffective, money is wasted
How Long Does It Take for Hair Growth Products to Start Working?
Hair loss treatments and products all take different lengths of time to begin working. In most cases, weeks or months will pass before results are visible.
When Should I Contact a Doctor?
If you are experiencing adverse reactions to a hair loss product, be sure to contact your doctor. If you are looking for more permanent, instant solutions to thinning hair and hair loss, contact SpaMedica to learn about our hair transplant procedures. Dr. Bell has decades of experience in plastic surgery and other cosmetic procedures, including hair transplants, and will work with you to determine your desired outcome and help you decide which type of procedure is best for you.