Hair thinning is a scary reality for men and women alike. While many live in a state of denial until their thinning or baldness is irreversible, recognizing the problem early is your best defense against further thinning. While thinning hair is in large part due to genetics, it is also preventable in many cases. To summarize the process in short, the genetic cause of thinning in 95% of people is the presence of the hormone DHT (Dihydrotestosterone). DHT comes from the hormone testosterone coming into contact with an enzyme in the hair follicle (Type II 5-alpha reductase), which then shrinks the follicle and thickens the protective membrane of the scalp. These two actions combined eventually grow thinner hair as well as make it harder for the hair to grow out of the scalp. Eventually, you have a hole where your thick, lustrous hair used to be. Genetics predetermines the level of DHT present in your scalp, but you can do something about it.
The process of thinning is rather complicated, but preventing it and reversing it doesn’t have to be. Reducing the amount of DHT in the scalp is rather simple. There are several products on the market that topically reduce the amount of DHT present in the scalp as well as solutions that can be ingested.
Nioxin, Bosley, and Rogaine all have products aimed at either preventing thinning, reversing it, or both. Nioxin and Bosleys systems of shampoos, conditioners and leave-in treatments claim to moisturize and condition hair while reducing DHT and removing follicle-clogging residue on the scalp. While many people have experienced success with these products, it is important to note a few things about them. First, they contain proteins intended to volumize hair strands making hair appear thicker. While these products can effectively prevent further thinning, it is unclear whether they are able to reverse it. While lots of satisfied customers say they have experienced a reversal of thinning, one should have realistic expectations of these systems, and realize that thicker feeling hair may be an illusion. It is also important to use all three products in the system to experience full results.
Rogaine claims to reinvigorate shrunken hair follicles and was discovered to do so by accident. Rogaine is FDA approved to regrow hair, but it won’t do it overnight. Results can take a while to show up, and the results won’t last forever. While Rogaine will lengthen the life of the follicle, it won’t make it immortal. Rogaine also will not work on an area that is completely bald, it will only work on thinning hair. Rogaine is applied to a clean scalp, so combining it with a DHT-reducing therapy like Nioxin or Bosley seems to be a great method of coming at thinning from every topical angle.
There are also many herbs that can block DHT in the body. Green tea, saw palmetto, and pumpkin seed may all help reduce DHT in the body. More information on how these herbs can block DHT can be found on LIVESTRONG. Using herbal remedies in conjunction with any topical treatment would be great if you are ready to throw the kitchen sink at your thinning without using harsh prescription medications.
Propecia blocks the formation of DHT in the scalp, and is available by prescription to adult men only. While it has been proven effective, it does have a number of side effects, many of which are related to libido and sexual performance, but there are also some concerns over it’s possible link to prostate cancer. If other methods of preventing and reversing hair loss have failed, and you are male, Propecia may be a good option for you. Doing proper research on side effects and having an honest and thorough talk with your doctor about what has and hasn’t worked for you would be a good first step. There is a lot of useful information on Propecia on WebMD and MedicineNet.
If you feel like you are experiencing thinning, you don’t have to be scared. The last 5% of reasons for hair loss include medications, stress, diet, and even pulling it out. Make sure you first aren’t taking anything that has hair loss as a side effect. Reduce your stress by medicating, doing yoga, exercising and eating right. Treat yourself well. There is nothing to be embarrassed about, and the solutions named above are, for the most part, very simple to add to your routine. If for any reason you feel you need more information, or want an anonymous way to reach out and talk about your concerns about hair thinning, please feel free to “Ask Emery.”