Every day, we each lose about 50 to 100 hairs, which is totally normal. But when you start to notice thinning, bald patches, or even clumps of hair falling out, man or woman, you start to worry.
Hair loss isn’t just a cosmetic issue. Experts agree, although it may be genetic, hair loss can also be sign that something in the body is imbalanced.
Find out how to uncover the real cause of hair loss and learn which remedies can help.
1. Get your hormones checked.
Androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female pattern baldness, is the most common type of hair loss. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, it affects about 80 million people.
And oftentimes, the culprit lies with the hormones, specifically dihydrotestosterone or DHT.
“Testosterone gets metabolized into estrogen but it can also go another pathway into DHT,” said Dr. Mark Carney, a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist and nutrition expert at Thriveology in Denver, Colo.
Some people have a genetic predisposition to this “hormone hijacking,” but it can also be due to diet, lifestyle and environment. A simple blood test can determine your hormone levels and their pathways. Then by working with your physician, you can make changes and find natural ways to help hair grow.
2. Look for other root causes.
“Fully understanding everything that is awry is very important at the onset because hair cannot regrow unless the environment is perfect,” said Dr. Shani F. Francis, a board- certified dermatologist and director of the Hair Disorders Center of Excellence at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois.
Anemia, insulin resistance, thyroid problems, an autoimmune disease like alopecia areata, and stress can all cause hair loss. It may even signal what’s known in Chinese medicine as a kidney yin and blood deficiency.
“Different organ systems manifest in different parts of the body and it’s the kidneys that manifests on the hair on our head,” Carney said.
Chinese herbs, acupuncture and foods like goji berries can build up yin in the body and restore balance.
3. Stop over-styling.
If you’re constantly touching up your dark roots, or fighting with your super curly hair to be stick straight, you could actually be causing breakage. Since the hair is breaking faster than it’s growing, it looks like you’re losing it.
“If all of these treatments and styling preferences don’t enhance your natural hair, then in some regards, they can be destructive,” Francis said.
4. Medications may help.
Minoxidil is an FDA-approved treatment for hair loss but it has to be used consistently for it to be effective. Also, it takes four to six months to see any improvement and up to a year to get the full benefit, Francis said.
Finasteride, also known by the brand name Propecia, is a pill that’s FDA-approved but only for men. Although effective, there is a risk for heart problems, increased heart rate, edema, headaches, and weight gain.
5. Try laser hair therapy.
Low-level laser light brushes, combs and other devices which are FDA-cleared for both men and women are available without a prescription. Although it’s not clear how the devices work, it’s thought to “stimulate the hair follicles’ energy cells to be more active,” Francis said. They’re also foolproof, telling you when and how far to move the device and they even automatically shut off.
6. Consider hair transplant surgery.
The hair follicles that are thinning are actually still in the scalp, but they’re sleeping.
“Transplantation can take the follicles that are not resting and transplant them into an area where the follicles are,” Francis said.
Yet instead of opting for surgery at the first sign of hair loss, it’s a good idea to wait until hair loss has slowed down or stopped altogether, she said.
Julie Revelant is a freelance writer and copywriter specializing in parenting, health, healthcare, nutrition, food and women’s issues. She’s also a mom of two. Learn more about Julie at revelantwriting.com.