If your hair is thinning, you probably remember the moment that you first realized it. Maybe you were looking in the mirror as you normally do in the morning and suddenly you noticed that your hairline appeared a bit further back than before, or you were tying up your hair and felt that your hair part was a bit more spaced out than it used to be.
Whenever it was that you realized your hair was thinning, it probably wasn’t a great feeling. However, you should know that you’re not alone—hundreds of thousands of men and women experience thinning hair and hair loss at some point in their lives.
Thinning Hair: Causes and Treatments
There are a wide variety of reasons why you may be experiencing thinning hair, and this article will cover some of the top catalysts along with several treatment options.
Inflammatory skin conditions. Conditions such as psoriasis and eczema can do more than just create itchy, irritated patches all over your skin—they can affect the health of your scalp too. When inflammation occurs on or near the skin of the scalp, it can affect the health of your existing hair shafts as well as your hair follicles, making it difficult for your hair to grow as fully and healthily as it used to.
Another common inflammatory skin condition is frontal fibrosing alopecia, a condition that can cause scarring on the scalp that leads to hair loss and inability to grow hair back on the affected areas. Unfortunately, not much is known about what causes this condition and how it can be slowed or stopped.
Overuse of heat treatments. Men and women alike often use devices such as hair dryers, straighteners, and curling wands to dry their hair quickly after washing or to achieve the perfect hairstyle. Though these items aren’t dangerous during individual uses, too many heat treatments over time can lead to thinning hair.
Excessive heat on the scalp and hair shafts can make hair dry and brittle, causing it to break or come out more easily when pulled on or tied back. Reducing heat treatments encourages proper production of sebum, or the natural oil found on your scalp and hair, which helps hair to remain thick and shiny.
Genetics. If you want to know what the future of your hair looks like, analyzing your parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents can be very illuminating. Male or female pattern baldness is incredibly common, and most hair loss can be attributed to a genetic predisposition.
Pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, typically shows up in men at the hairline, which will gradually recede over time. The same condition in women, however, is often seen most at the hair part, which slowly begins to separate.
Telogen effluvium. Though this phrase sounds complicated, all it refers to is the thinning or loss of hair due to some sort of stress or imbalance within the body. This could be a nutritional deficiency, an illness, or a singular high-stress event.
When your body is under severe stress, it can start to malfunction in curious ways. For example, stress can cause people to develop an irritated scalp and dandruff, inadvertently causing thinning or brittle hair. Additionally, certain preexisting conditions, such as PCOS in women or other generalized endocrine disorders, can trigger the excess production of androgens in the body. These hormones are related to testosterone and are known to block hair growth in both men and women.
What Can I Do to Treat My Thinning Hair?
Thinning hair and hair loss are no fun for anyone. Luckily, there is a wide variety of treatment options out there for all different types of thinning hair.
Low-level light therapy. Also referred to a LLLT, this treatment is usually delivered through FDA-cleared laser caps and is known to reverse the effects of genetic hair loss with religious and consistent use. The light therapy penetrates the scalp tissue and encourages new growth among the hair follicles on the scalp.
Minoxidil. This medication is widely used to treat both men and women experiencing hair loss. However, most medical professionals recommend minoxidil specifically for patients with male or female pattern baldness.
Hair transplantation. In some extreme cases, patients will have healthy hair follicles from the back of their scalp surgically transplanted onto balding areas. Once implanted, these follicles will start to grow hair as normal.
Ask about your medication. In some cases, medication for unrelated illnesses can have a hidden side effect of hair loss. Ask your doctor if this might be the case for you, and whether or not it’s safe to switch to a different brand of medication.