Hands want something to run through. The wind needs something to mess up. Graciously oblige by doing what you need to do to keep your hair on your head.
Your frustrations and, at times, embarrassing experiences with hair loss and thinning isn’t something you should just put up with, and it definitely isn’t something you should part with all your cash to cure.
Classic signs of balding: your hair is acting differently, you’re finding hair everywhere, and you see your head getting bigger. Do something while you still have some hair!
Hair loss (also known as alopecia) is a common problem, and can affect just your scalp or your entire body. Hair loss can occur in different patterns, depending on the cause. It can affect both men and women, and also children. Hair loss can cause significant worry and anxiety, but there are several ways of treating and managing hair loss. Treatment depends on the type of hair loss.
Before making a diagnosis, your doctor will likely give you a physical exam and ask about your diet, your hair care routine, and your medical and family history. You might also have tests, such as the following:
- Blood test. This might help uncover medical conditions that can cause hair loss.
- Pull test. Your doctor may gently pull several dozen hairs to see how many come out. This helps determine the stage of the shedding process.
- Scalp biopsy. Your doctor may request samples from the skin or from a few hairs plucked from the scalp to examine the hair roots under a microscope. This can help determine whether an infection is causing hair loss.
- Light microscopy. Your doctor may use a special instrument to examine hairs trimmed at their bases. Microscopy helps uncover possible disorders of the hair shaft.
Effective treatments for some types of hair loss are available. You might be able to reverse hair loss, or at least slow it. With some conditions, such as patchy hair loss (alopecia areata), hair may regrow without treatment within a year. Treatments for hair loss include medications and surgery.
If your hair loss is caused by an underlying disease, treatment for that disease will be necessary. If a certain medication is causing the hair loss, your doctor may advise you to stop using it for a few months. Medications are available to treat pattern (hereditary) baldness. The most common options include:
- Minoxidil. Products with prescription only high strength minoxidil compounded with other essential elements help many people regrow their hair or slow the rate of hair loss or both. It’ll take at least six months of treatment to prevent further hair loss and to start hair regrowth. It may take a few more months to tell whether the treatment is working for you. If it is helping, you’ll need to continue using the medicine indefinitely to retain the benefits. Possible side effects include scalp irritation and unwanted hair growth on the adjacent skin of the face and hands.
- Finasteride (Propecia). This is a prescription only drug for men. You take it daily as a pill. Many men taking finasteride experience a slowing of hair loss, and some may show new hair growth. It may take a few months to tell whether it’s working for you. You’ll need to keep taking it to retain any benefits. Finasteride may not work as well for men over 60. Rare side effects of finasteride include diminished sex drive and sexual function and an increased risk of prostate cancer. Women who are or may be pregnant need to avoid touching crushed or broken tablets.
- Other medications. Other oral options include spironolactone and oral dutasteride