If you are a man losing your hair, the most likely cause is Androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness and there effective remedies to deal with this. If you are a woman, the cause of your hair loss could be one of several, so the remedy will depend somewhat on what the condition is deemed to be.
In male pattern baldness there seems to be an inherited predisposition for hair follicles to be especially sensitive to the deleterious effect of DHT, a male hormone produced in the body from testosterone. As we age, levels of DHT tend to rise, and, as they do DHT upsets the normal function of hair follicles, causing them to shrink and become less productive. Hairs that are produced are typically thinner, and eventually hair production may cease altogether.
One of the main remedies for this situation concentrates on reducing levels of DHT in the body by preventing conversion of testosterone to DHT. The most widely used drug for this is finasteride (Prepucia), which is taken as a pill just once a day. In up to 50% of men who take it a reduction of hair loss is seen, and a significant number go on to grow new hair as follicles recover.
An alternative remedy is the use of minoxidil (Rogaine), which is applied directly to the scalp as a solution, gel, or foam. Best results are obtained by leaving it in contact with the scalp for a couple of hours. Minoxidil has been shown to help promote new hair growth in many men although it is not known exactly how it does this. It is most likely a result of increased scalp blood flow and hence increased supplies of hair nutrients. Both this and the previous remedy have to be given time in order to see results. New hair will not grow back over night, but rather will take some months.
Women also can suffer from male pattern baldness as they have male hormones too. The condition tends to follow a different pattern in women, leading to more generalised and diffuse hair loss. Unfortunately finasteride cannot be used in women as it may give rise to birth defects, but there are other anti-androgens that can be given. Treatment with minoxidil is possible for women, and, in addition, there is a wide range of products that can be applied to the scalp to help hair growth. These may contain phyto-oestrogens which are naturally occurring DHT blockers, and in addition a number of nutrients and vitamins such as amino acids and Biotin (Vitamin H). There is some doubt as to how well these nutrients are absorbed however.
Other causes of hair loss in women are:
- Alopecia areata, which is thought to be an auto-immune disease and causes patches of baldness. The remedy for this is mainly to cover bald patches by cosmetic means whilst waiting for hair to regrow, which it often does. Sometimes steroids are used to treat the condition, either by injection into the scalp or by topical application, ion an attempt to suppress the immune reaction.
- Telogen effluvium is a condition where large numbers of hairs are interrupted in their life cycle by emotional shock or trauma. The hairs are prematurely aged and then fall out before they can be replaced by new hair growth. Fortunately this is usually only temporary and hair often regrows eventually. Treatment is by reassurance and cosmetic means.
- Trichotilliomania or compulsive hair pulling, is a problem much more common in women, and due to underlying emotional problems. Treatment requires the resolution of the psychological problems before satisfactory regrowth of hair can be established.
In conclusion, hair loss problems are common but remedies are available to meet most eventualities with a good deal of success.