Read these two articles on Oprah.com about thinning hair as well as maintaining healthy hair. We decided to combine them into one article because it is not only important to fix problems but to also maintain the good. Our additional comments will be in italics.
You’re Noticing: Thinning Along the Hairline
Likely cause: Regularly yanking your hair back too-tight
Why it leads to thinning: Putting tension on the hairs at the front of your scalp can make them fall out. There’s even a name for this type of thinning: traction alopecia. (Going overboard on hair extensions can also cause traction alopecia wherever the extensions are attached, says Doris Day, MD, a clinical associate professor of dermatology at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York.)
How to fix it: First, be gentler to keep the problem from getting worse. If your go-to look is a ponytail or bun, use your fingertips to feel around your temples and crown and make sure you can move your hair a little. Minoxidil (the only FDA-approved topical treatment to regrow hair) can help fill in the sparse areas.
You’re Noticing: Your Part Seems to be Getting Wider
Likely Cause: Female-pattern hair loss due to aging, changing hormone levels (hello, menopause!) or a family history of thinning
Why it leads to thinning: It’s not clear why but this type of thinning generally affects the part first and expands from there. Hair follicles start to shrink, producing shorter and finer hairs than they used to before they stop producing hairs at all. It generally doesn’t lead to serious balding though.
How to fix it: Minoxidil is your best option. As of 2014, 5-percent-Minoxidil products are available for women in addition to the standard 2 percent (the former used to be approved for use in men only). Your doctor may also recommend laser treatments aimed at stimulating hair growth.
Besides Minoxidil, this writer has been using HairMax Laser Comb for the past year and although I don’t see new hair growing, it certainly has helped with the oil control on the scalp and current strands are not thinning at the root.
Recent research is also showing that Rosemary Oil has the same effects as Minoxidil as it naturally blocks the byproduct of testosterone on the scalp. Some people have reacted better to rosemary oil compared to minoxidil due to skin sensitivity. What some doctors have advised is to put 5-6 drops of pure rosemary oil into aloe vera juice and apply to your scalp 30-60 minutes before you take a shower. Please check with your doctor first to ensure that you do not have any allergies to the oil.
You’re Noticing: Diffuse Thinning All Over Your Head
Potential cause: Major stress
Why it leads to thinning: Physiological stress, whether it’s from a breakup, the loss of a loved one or a traumatic physical event (childbirth is a classic example), can shift hair follicles into rest mode, where they stop producing hair. It’s called telogen effluvium, and it’s very common, says Pamela Jakubowicz, MD, a dermatologist at Montefiore Medical Center, in New York. Because of hair’s growth cycle, you’ll notice thinning roughly 3 months after the stressful event.
How to fix it: Telogen effluvium generally resolves on its own. You should notice improvement about 3 months after stress levels return to normal.
Potential cause: Medications
Why it leads to thinning: Some drugs are known to cause hair thinning. Prime examples: hormonal birth control, isotretinoin for acne, blood pressure medications, cholesterol-lowering drugs and certain antidepressants.
How to fix it: Minoxidil may help, but if your hair loss is affecting your well-being, Sejal Shah, MD, a board certified dermatologist in New York, recommends asking your prescribing doctor if there are other medications you can try that don’t have that as a side effect.
Potential cause: Frying your hair with hot tools
Why it leads to thinning: High heat creates air bubbles within the hair shaft that can cause breakage. If tools get too close to the root, they can damage the hair follicle.
How to fix it: Medium heat is best—if your hot tools have an intensity range between 1 and 10, for example, set them at 5. Keep hot styling tools at least an inch or two away from your scalp to protect the follicle.
Potential cause: A thyroid disorder
Why it leads to thinning: Thyroid issues lead to hair loss because follicles can’t get resources they need to produce hair, says Jakubowicz. In hypothyroidism, it’s because your whole system is moving slower; in hyperthyroidism, it’s likely because your body is depleting resources faster.
How to fix it: If your dermatologist suspects a systemic condition like a thyroid problem is causing your thinning, they’ll refer you to your internist for testing and treatment, which should also help with the hair loss
You’re Noticing: You’re Losing Hair in Patches
Potential cause: Skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis
Why it leads to thinning: Scaliness and buildup of skin cells on the scalp can lead to hair loss, explains Shah. (Scratching to relieve itching can make it worse.) Seborrheic dermatitis, an inflammatory condition that mainly affects the scalp and causes scaly patches, red skin and dandruff, can also trigger hair loss.
How to fix it: Treat the skin issue and hair should start to grow back on its own. Topical steroids, antifungals and medicated shampoos are often the first steps, and your dermatologist may recommend stronger options like phototherapy or oral and injectable medications if you need a more aggressive treatment.
Potential cause: Alopecia areata
Why it leads to thinning: This autoimmune condition is relatively rare, affecting roughly 2 percent of the U.S. population, but it’s very noticeable because it starts with quarter-sized patches of hair loss. It often begins in childhood as the immune system attacks hair follicles.
How to fix it: There’s no cure or official medications, but your doctor might recommend treatments approved for other hair-loss conditions to try to stimulate growth (cortisone injections are one option, says Day). Your dermatologist will confirm the condition first (often by pulling out a hair or two and examining them under a microscope or doing a skin biopsy of the scalp) and proceed from there.
You want: Help for your thinning hair
Try eating more: Vitamin D and iron
Too little D could be contributing to your thinning. Researchers from Cairo University in Egypt compared serum ferritin (a way of measuring your body’s iron stores) and vitamin D levels in women with hair loss with women who had healthy heads of hair and found that levels of the vitamin were as much as 121 percent lower among those with thinning. About 25 percent of people over the age of 1 included in a National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2001 and 2006 were at risk of having inadequate levels of the vitamin. To get more D in your diet (the RDA is 600 IU, or 15 mcg), try fish sources like salmon, sardines or canned tuna, or fortified dairy sources like milk and yogurt (look for ones specifically labeled as fortified with vitamin D).
You want: More growth, and some shine wouldn’t hurt
Try eating more: Probiotics
Inflammation can interfere with normal hair growth, and there’s some research with animals suggesting that controlling inflammation by feeding your gut the right foods can counteract those damaging effects. A study in PLOS One reports that mice fed probiotics had more robust fur growth and shinier fur than mice in the control group, who didn’t get any beneficial bacteria in their diets. Whitney Bowe, MD, a clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center, in New York, recommends three servings per day of probiotic-rich foods and drinks like miso paste (found in miso soup), yogurt with live active cultures, kefir and kombucha. Or if you could also supplement that with Bios Life Probionic which contains 2 servings.
You want: A thicker head of hair Try eating more: Healthy fats and antioxidants
A recent study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology suggests that the combination of essential fatty acids and free-radical-fighting antioxidants may have more benefits than either on their own. Of the 80 women who took a nutritional supplement containing a mix of omega 3 and 6 fatty acids and antioxidants including vitamins E, C and lycopene, more than 87 percent reported having more hair on their heads and more than 86 percent said their individual strands became thicker at the sixth-month mark. (The researchers excluded women with nutritional deficiencies or health disorders that may have been a factor in subpar hair growth or might have interfered with the study’s results.) Several researchers on the study came from a company co-created by L’Oréal that manufactured and marketed beauty supplements, but their findings bolster Bowe’s advice: A diet that includes healthy fats and antioxidants can only mean good things for your health—and your hair.
It’s not easy to watch the amounts of tomatoes (for the lycopene) or anti-oxidants plus omega fatty acids one consumes so it might be easier to just drink a Reserve Gel Pack a day as it contains tons of anti-oxidants as found in dark cherries, blueberries, grape seed and a lot more.
You want: More hair staying on your head
Try eating more: Protein
Most iron-rich foods are also good sources of protein, so if your iron intake is adequate, odds are your protein consumption is, too. But if you’re getting a lot of your iron from relatively low-protein picks, like certain iron-fortified breakfast cereals, white rice or white bread, that may not be true. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, your body goes into rationing mode when protein intake is too low, and one of they ways the body cuts back on its protein needs is to shut down hair growth, resulting in hair loss. Once you get your protein intake back on track, your strands will follow suit. “It can take a little while to notice the effects of a lack of protein, but I see clients all the time who did a juice cleanse a month or two before they see me and now their hair is falling out,” says Bowe. “And it’s because there’s usually no protein in those cleanses.” Meeting the recommended intake of 46 grams per day for women is likely enough to maintain hair health. Getting a mix of lean meats (a 3-ounce piece of chicken, beef or pork generally has about 20 grams), eggs (a large one has 6 grams of protein), Greek yogurt (one non-fat container can pack up to 17 grams) and nuts (a small handful of almonds has 6 grams) will help you reach that goal.
Photo credits: Jeunesse, Pixabay, Unicity and Zilingo