If you are splitting your hair because it is falling out, you are not alone. Hair loss, known as alopecia, is a common disorder that affects more than 80 million Americans. So how do you know if you are falling out more than usual?
On average, most people lose about 100 hairs per day. As the new leads grow into the lost leads, most will not notice any difference. But if fewer or no strands grow back and you start noticing a receding hairline or areas of thinning, you may have alopecia.
Dermatologist Wilma Bergfield, MD, talks about ways to stop hair loss, what might cause it and whether it can be reversed.
How to stop hair loss ?
Not only does losing your hair affect your appearance, but it can also cause emotional stress and affect your self-confidence. There are some things you can do to help stop hair loss.
Eat Extra Protein
Eat more protein You may not get enough protein every day and this can affect your hair growth. Especially if you are a vegetarian or vegan, you may need to increase your protein intake. "You need 40 to 60 grams a day," says Dr. Bergfield. "You can drink your own protein, you don't have to eat it in a food item." Other ways to meet your daily protein needs include eating beans, legumes, eggs, or Greek yogurt.
Your doctor can perform various tests to see if you have a vitamin deficiency. Certain vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, B, C, D, E, zinc and iron can affect your hair growth. Dr. Bergfield found success prescribing Biotin Forte with Zinc, a supplement that helps maintain healthy hair, skin, and muscle tissue. "There are new types that include saw palmetto, calcium and selenium," says Dr. Bergfield. “All these things are good. Only look for companies that come from a reputable company.”
Follow the Mediterranean diet
Eating fruits, vegetables, and protein - the main components of the Mediterranean diet - can be beneficial, especially compared to other modern diets. "When you go on these restrictive diets, you may lose weight but it's probably something you can't keep off," says Dr. Bergfield. "And they usually lack something your hair follicles need."
Use over-the-counter hair loss medications
You may have heard of minoxidil, an over-the-counter medication that helps prevent hair loss. Available as a solution or as a foam that is applied to your scalp, the drug has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a strength of 5%. "We were considering using low-dose oral minoxidil as a treatment," says Dr. Bergfield. "There are a few studies that show how useful and safe this is."
Try Low Level Laser Therapy
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved this newer treatment to help with hair growth. But low-level laser light therapy devices, which include wands and helmets, can be time-consuming and expensive, with options costing $200 to $1,000. "It can reduce skin inflammation and start hair growth," says Dr. Bergfeld. "It's a no-brainer. You don't have any drug interactions. You don't have any intolerance. The worst thing you can get is a little bit of a scalp sunburn, which can be dealt with just with lotion or even just reducing exposure over time."
Maintain good hair and scalp care
Avoid harsh hair treatments such as heating tools, hair dye, and bleaching. Hairstyles like tight ponytails or braids can affect your hair as well. Keep your scalp healthy by washing your hair and scalp regularly. “Any inflammation of the scalp will affect the hair growth cycle,” says Dr. Bergfield.
Why is your hair falling out?
- You may start to see more hair loss than usual thanks to the following:
- Genetics. Stress.
- Hormonal changes such as pregnancy or menopause.
- Certain hairstyles.
- Harmful hair care such as perming or bleaching.
- Medicines such as chemotherapy.
- Medical conditions such as fungal infections or thyroid disease.
By working with a dermatologist, you can begin to determine the cause of your hair loss. Your doctor will ask about your health, medications, and family history.
"I tell patients to keep track of events that are unusual for them, for example, a heavy menstrual period," Dr. Bergfield says. "So when we go back to looking for triggers, we'll have some hint of what could be."
Your doctor will also examine other areas of your body such as the eyebrows, eyelashes, underarms, pubic area, legs and arms to assess if there is hair loss.
Oftentimes, hair loss is an indication that something more serious is going on.
“Hair loss, especially hair loss, is just a sign that something is wrong with the body,” says Dr. Bergfield. “Hair follicles are one of the three fastest cell lines in your body. Anything that affects your body and loses balance will affect those systems. So hair loss is an indication that something is wrong.”
Can hair loss be reversed?
Yes and no. It depends on the type of hair loss you are experiencing. Some types, such as cicatricial alopecia, are permanent, while others that may be caused by stress or a temporary medical condition. Once the cause is identified and eliminated, your hair should start growing again. “In general, if the trigger or whatever is causing the hair follicle injury is gone, the hair will recover within four to six months to a year,” says Dr. Bergfield.