If you have begun to notice more hair getting tangled in your brush, ending up in the drain, or getting thinner, you’re dealing with hair loss. The medical name for hair loss is alopecia, and it can appear in many ways, such as thinning on top of the head, loosening of hair, patchy bald spots or full body hair loss.
More than 50% of women are estimated to experience hair loss. This can lead to psychological distress and frustration. When you notice the signs of hair loss, it’s time to act. Let us show you the different treatment options you can avail to deal with hair loss.
The American Academy of Dermatology Association has identified the many causes of hair loss, these include:
- Hereditary: It is called female pattern hair loss in women, and its medical name is androgenic alopecia. The notable sign of Hereditary hair loss in women is thinning or a widening part.
- Age: Hair loss can occur because hair growth slows with age.
- Alopecia areata: A disease that causes the body’s immune system to attack hair follicles. You can lose hair on your scalp, ears, and even eyelashes or eyebrows.
- Chemotherapy or radiation treatment: You can lose most or all of your hair within weeks of treatment starting.
- Medication: Side effects of certain medicines, such as antidepressants or cholesterol-lowering meds, can cause hair fall.
- Childbirth or death of loved one: negative stressors can cause hair loss.
- STIs: sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis can cause patchy hair loss.
- Hair treatments: Constantly dying or perming your hair can lead to hair loss over time.
- Scalp psoriasis: Plaque psoriasis can cause hair loss.
- Hormonal imbalance: PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) can also lead to hair loss.
- Scalp infection: Scaly and inflamed areas on your scalp can cause hair fall.
- Trichotillomania: pulling your hair leads to hair loss.
Let’s look at the different treatment options available to mitigate the appearance of balding spots or treat hair loss in women.
Scalp Micropigmentation, or SMP, or hair tattoo, is a popular semi-permanent choice for mitigating the appearance of hair loss or thinning hair. It is a non-invasive and non-surgical procedure that doesn’t require extensive recovery time.
Micro-sized needles apply pigments or ink into your scalp’s dermal layer during the procedure. This mimics the appearance of natural hair follicles. Your practitioner will formulate the pigments to match your hair color and skin tone to blend with your existing hair. The number of sessions varies according to your desired density and treatment needed. The results last up to four years, but with regular touch-up sessions, the effects last for an extended period.
It primarily hides thinning areas on your scalps or gives the illusion of having a “buzz cut” or shaved hair. However, it doesn’t grow or change your natural hair growth cycle, only shows the appearance of fuller, thicker hair. It is an excellent alternative for those whose other hair treatment strategies aren’t working.
Side effects may include mild swelling, a slight scabbing and redness in treating areas. The cost will depend on the clinic’s reputation, the extent of your hair loss, and the size of the treated area.
Topical minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, has been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss in women. It stimulates hair growth and increases the hair growth cycle. Topical minoxidil is available in two concentrations. If you opt for the 2% solution, you’ll have to apply it twice daily, or you can opt for the 5% solution once every day. You need to apply it for two months to see results and will need to keep applying it to maintain results; otherwise, upon stopping, hair loss begins again.
To use minoxidil, ensure your scalp and hair are dry. Use a spray pump or dropper and apply it to the area where you’re experiencing hair loss or thinning, then massage it into your scalp and let it air dry. You may experience side effects like hair color and texture change, alcohol-related skin irritation, or hypertrichosis (excessive hair growth in the wrong places, like your forehead). Low-level light therapy can amplify the effects of minoxidil using 630-670 nanometers of light rays. It does not have any adverse side effects or pain.
Over-the-counter or prescription medicine Ketoconazole is typically used to treat fungal infections such as athlete’s foot and can be used to treat hair loss. It also comes in the form of shampoo. It helps reduce inflammation and strengthens your hair. A study compared its effects at 2% concentration with 2% minoxidil and found that hair size and thickness improved at similar rates. Note that the FDA hasn’t approved this treatment.
You can use corticosteroid medication if you have alopecia areata or another autoimmune disease causing hair loss. Immune system suppressors stop the effects of the autoimmune disease, which lets your hair grow.
You can apply topical steroids to your skin, or the doctor can inject them into your skin or scalp. If your hair isn’t growing or you fear needles, you can also get oral medication. Side effects include thinning skin on the scalp, rash, and puffy face. If taken by mouth, it weakens your body’s immune system against viral or bacterial infections.
You can opt for a surgical hair transplant – a process that moves hair you have to an area with thin or no hair. Your surgeon will clean your scalp, inject numbing medicine, and opt for one of the two methods: follicular unit extraction (FUE) or follicular unit strip surgery (FUSS).
Women with thinning hair or hair loss from burning or scalp injury can opt for this treatment if they can afford it. However, women with widespread patterns of hair loss should avoid hair transplants.
After surgery, your scalp will be sore, and you may need to take pain medication or antibiotics to reduce infection. Side effects include swelling, itching, inflammation, infection, bleeding, and more.
Hair loss shampoos usually contain DHT blockers, hydrocortisone, ketoconazole, or volumizing proteins. While they don’t prevent hair loss, they can add thickness and volume to promote hair growth. If hair loss occurs due to clogged pores, such shampoos clear pores from dead skin cells. The ingredients you want in your hair loss shampoo include:
- Zinc: Zinc deficiency can link to hair loss.
- Biotin: Biotin improves your scalp’s keratin infrastructure (keratin is a protein that helps form your hair).
- Niacin: Also known as nicotinic acid, niacin improves blood circulation allowing more nutrients and oxygen to reach your hair follicles.
- Keratin: Apart from forming your hair, it also creates a protective shield around your hair follicles to keep it long, thick and healthy.
Dealing with hair loss can be a challenging experience, and finding the perfect remedy for it can be even more difficult. What works for one may not work for you, and while some may prefer surgery, others may prefer medication, so it may take time to find the best strategy. Continue to research and learn about the treatment options available to see what works best for you and what you feel most comfortable with. We recommend you talk to your practitioner about the cause of your hair loss and your best choice.