Best and Worst Ways to Combat Premature Hair Loss
When it comes to combating premature hair loss, time is of the essence.
I’m sure you’re familiar with the old adage: the best offense is a good defense. Likewise, the most effective way to stave off hair loss is to take preventative measures before you begin to lose your hair. Bad habits such as drinking and smoking can cause you to begin going bald at a much younger age. The same is true for a poor diet and poor hygiene in general. But even with a healthy lifestyle, male pattern baldness is a near-inevitability for most men. Two-thirds of men will begin losing their hair by their 35th birthday. By the age of fifty, a staggering 85% of men will experience visible hair loss.
As a brief side note, this article generally refers to men, as they are the primary sufferers of hair loss. Nearly all of this information, however, also applies to women. If you are one of the 40% of women who experience hair loss at some point in their lives, please feel free to draw from the advice I’ve laid out here.
Many men take hair loss in stride, embracing the natural development of their hairstyle or wrenching control away from nature by shaving their heads and rocking the bald look. While they are right to feel no shame in losing their hair, it is also okay to want to reverse your hair loss. If you are wanting to combat premature hair loss, here are some of the dos and don’ts.
When it comes to combating premature hair loss, time is of the essence. Schedule a meeting with your dermatologist as soon as you experience any potential hair loss symptoms. The most obvious symptom of hair loss is excessive shedding. If you start seeing a greater-than-normal amount of hair left on your pillow in the morning or clogging the drain after you take a shower, it’s time to reach out to your doctor. A receding hairline is another sure sign of hair loss, but it often occurs so gradually that it is easily missed.
Hair thickness varies from person to person based on a number of factors including genetics, but regardless of your genes, your hair will begin to thin as you age. If your scalp becomes more easily visible when you part your hair, it is a sure sign that your hair is thinning. When you notice this, it is important not only to seek treatment to prevent further hair loss, but also to learn how to care for your skin. Thinner hair means your scalp is less protected from the sun, and leaving your scalp unprotected can only serve to increase your risk for hair loss and other conditions.
Another, less obvious indicator of hair loss is an itchy head. If your head itches, it could be a sign of another dermatological condition such as dermatitis. While this alone is not necessarily a cause of hair loss, the excessive rubbing and scratching that comes as a result of an itchy scalp has the potential to damage your hair follicles, leading to premature hair loss. Itchy or not, if your scalp is visible through your hair (and it didn’t used to be), then it’s a strong sign you are in the early stages of male pattern baldness.
What Not to Do
When it comes to treating your hair loss, knowing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do. As I’ve stated before, there is nothing wrong with embracing your hair loss, and there is nothing wrong with taking measures to prevent or treat it. However, if you do decide to treat your hair loss, make sure you go about it the right way.
Several common approaches to treating male pattern baldness are outdated, ineffective, and not worth your time and effort. Styling your hair with a comb over is obvious and only draws attention to your bald spot. Likewise, growing your hair longer isn’t going to hide your receding hairline. The long and short of it is that you really won’t be able to effectively style away your issues. If you want to treat your hair loss, you’ll need to speak to a dermatologist.
A brief search on the internet for ways to combat premature hair loss will reveal a number of homeopathic remedies alongside more scientific approaches. Before you get enamored by “alternative medicines” and treatments such as turmeric, acupuncture, vitamin D, garlic oil, and others, please know that there is no scientific evidence to corroborate the myth that these are effective ways to treat hair loss. In a world where effective and medically sound hair loss treatments exist, there is no need to seek out such remedies.
How to Combat Hair Loss
Now that you know what not to do, what is the best way to combat premature hair loss? There are several right answers, so again: I recommend consulting with your dermatologist in order to determine the right treatment plan for you. For tri-state area natives, Dr. Feinberg of Hair Restoration Center of New York & New Jersey is one of the most trusted sources for a hair loss consultation from the comfort of your home. By filling out the form below, you can easily schedule an appointment for a virtual, online consultation to learn what options in combating hair loss are best for you.
One of the most common treatments for hair loss is a topical medication called minoxidil. Perhaps most famously, it is an active ingredient in Rogaine, an over-the-counter hair regrowth treatment. This product is most effective in the earliest stages of hair loss, when your hair is just beginning to thin. It isn’t well understood exactly how minoxidil works, but it appears to stimulate the growth of thicker hairs by allowing more oxygen and blood to reach your follicles. Minoxidil’s effects aren’t permanent, so you’ll have to keep applying it twice daily for as long as you have hair. Since it is something you’ll be using for potentially years to come, you should talk to your doctor before using it, even though it can be purchased over the counter.
The other most common hair loss medication is finasteride (commonly known by the brand name Propecia). Unlike minoxidil, finasteride is taken orally and has shown to only be effective for men. Without getting into too much medical chemistry jargon, finasteride works by blocking a certain male hormone that facilitates hair loss. Like with minoxidil, finasteride must be continually taken for as long as you have hair. You can’t get it without a prescription, so you’ll have to speak to your doctor—which, again, I recommend you do anyway!
In recent years, more experimental treatments have surfaced. Laser therapy and Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections show promise as non-surgical hair loss treatments, but if you are serious about treating your male pattern baldness, it may be time to consider a surgical option. The most common form of surgical hair replacement is a hair transplant, during which follicular units (groups of hair follicles) are surgically removed from less visible areas on the back of the scalp and replaced on bald spots.
If you find yourself suffering from premature hair loss, the most important thing for you to do is schedule an appointment with your dermatologist like Dr.Feinberg. There is a wealth of misinformation on the internet, and you shouldn’t put the future of your hair in any online source (including this one!). Regardless of what you find online, trust your doctor’s opinion above all else, as they are the most qualified person to help you treat your hair loss.