Are you reading this because you want to know what to do if you find that your hair is thinning? Read on for tips for women who wish to prevent or slow hair loss and some possible ways to encourage hair regrowth.
Thinning Hair: Some Causes
Thinning hair is a stressful condition. Genetic hair loss is very common among women as they get older. It’s called female-pattern hair loss or androgenic alopecia. Around menopause, hormone changes may cause the follicles to shrink, and hair becomes finer.
In addition, most scientists believe as we age, we produce less melatonin. Melatonin levels affect the hair growth cycle. Aging isn’t the only reason for thinning hair, though.
Some reasons include an unchecked obsessive-compulsive disorder called trichotillomania as well as mechanical pulling from things like tight braids and weaves, which can result in traction alopecia.
If a woman’s hair loss is localized in one bald spot, this can be a sign of alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease. It’s often accompanied by another autoimmune disorder that can also cause hair loss in patches, such as
- Thyroid disease
- Eczema (atopic dermatitis)
How to Tell If Your Hair Is Thinning
Noticing a lot more hair in your hairbrush is one of the first signs of thinning hair, especially if it’s a reaction to a medication, which can cause rapid hair loss. Some common medications that can result in thinning hair include:
- Oral retinoids (taken for acne)
- Antibiotics and antifungal drugs
- Birth control pills
- Anticoagulants (e.g., heparin and warfarin)
- Cholesterol-lowering drugs (e.g., some statins)
- Drugs that suppress the immune system
Other signs of thinning hair are a widening part and a smaller circumference of your ponytail.
Potential Treatments for Thinning Hair
If you want to know how to thicken hair naturally, realize that much of your hair thickness is governed by genetics; however, you can do several things to build volume. Commercial styling products can help the appearance of both fine hair and thinning hair to appear more voluminous. You can also find many home remedies from the kitchen (think eggs, mayonnaise, avocado, etc.) that are supposed to give you thicker hair, but these are generally messier than they are effective.
However, if you want to know how to stop thinning hair and how to grow hair back, be prepared to do a little research so that you can intelligently weigh your options once you’re more informed. A dermatologist is a good place to start for a basic exam and referrals if needed.
A Natural Hair Regrowth Remedy: Scalp Massages
If you want the most natural DIY hair growth option, massage may be for you. Studies indicate that frequent, consistent scalp massages (once or twice daily, for 4-5 minutes) may result in thicker hair growth and lessen androgenic alopecia.
You may wish to combine massages prior to shampooing with a small amount of one or more oils attributed with the ability to stimulate hair growth or improve the skin. Look into these essential oils, perhaps combined with a carrier oil such as castor oil:
- Lavender oil
- Peppermint oil
- Rosemary oil
- Tea tree oil
- Cedarwood oil
- Clary sage oil
Other Solutions for Hair Loss
Most “hair treatments” for thinning hair are actually scalp treatments. They are designed to improve follicular health and activity to change hair regrowth cycles. Melatonin, as mentioned earlier, can help improve thinning hair. It is sometimes recommended to be taken orally for this reason.
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved topical solution to treat hair loss. There are formulas specifically for men and women. It can be purchased over the counter, but it is not without potential risks. The most well-known brand is RogaineⓇ; however, you can get other brands that are just as effective.
Bioidentical Hormone Replacement Therapy
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy, available from a physician, may slow or prevent hair loss. Bioidentical hormones may carry less risk than synthetic hormone medications, but a delicate balance is needed, and potential thyroid problems should be ruled out. This needs to be managed by physicians trained in their use.
Corticosteroids can be injected every one to three months into the areas of the scalp where the hair is falling out. Corticosteroids can also be applied topically, either alone or in conjunction with injections.
A specific medicine that causes an allergic reaction is applied to the scalp weekly. Studies show that this is a promising way to treat several types of hair thinning.
Laser Therapy Caps and Devices
Often marketed as miracle solutions for regrowing hair, these devices offer hope for some by using LLLT (low-level laser therapy). Women with androgenic alopecia can be good candidates for this sometimes expensive solution, especially as they are not ideal for more invasive hair transplant procedures.
Platelet-Rich Plasma (or PRP) Injections
Used mainly for hair loss resulting from androgenetic alopecia, PRP therapy uses injections into the scalp made up of a patient’s own platelets, which reduce inflammation, repair damaged cells, and revive follicles.
Some Things to Remember:
The best results for thinning hair work when genetic hair loss is just starting, where there is no permanent scarring to the scalp. Of course, solutions work best when there’s no ongoing aggravating health condition or recurring interference, like an undiagnosed thyroid problem or unaddressed trichotillomania.
Don’t get discouraged. There are new discoveries in this medical area all the time, such as finding off-label hair regrowth properties of existing drugs, such as this study shows. Finding the “root cause” of your hair loss can help you solve it, as much hair loss is reversible.
For more rapid diagnosis and to avoid trial and error, see a dermatologist or a trustworthy hair loss specialist.