Hair loss can happen slowly and steadily or rapidly and unexpectedly. Slow hair loss is often caused by androgenic alopecia, which is otherwise known as male or female pattern baldness. Rapid hair loss can often be traced to telogen effluvium, which is usually triggered by some type of physical trauma. In either case, going bald can be a helpless and highly unpleasant feeling. You may find yourself desperately trying to cover up balding areas with hats, headbands, or hairstyle changes.
Fortunately, hair loss doesn’t have to be permanent. There may be ways to recover your beautiful locks after dealing with androgenic alopecia or telogen effluvium. If you’re experiencing the former, total hair regrowth may not be possible. But there are still things you can do to slow further hair loss and help regain at least some of your lost hair. Whether your hairline is receding or you have bald areas peeking through your scalp, try these four recommendations to boost hair regrowth.
1. Use Topical Minoxidil and Finasteride
One of the most effective ways to recover from hair loss is to apply tried-and-proven topical medications to impacted areas. Minoxidil and finasteride are two such medications with an impressive history of success. Minoxidil works for hair regrowth by shortening the resting phase of the hair follicles and triggering the growth phase. It is also a vasodilator, which means it increases blood flow to the treated areas. This blood flow delivers increased nutrients to the follicles and stimulates hair regrowth.
Like minoxidil, finasteride also stimulates hair regrowth (though its methods are a bit different). Finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. This means it blocks the effects of dihydrotestosterone, which is a hormone linked to male pattern baldness. It’s important to note that finasteride is not FDA-approved for women, and for good reason. It can severely harm fetuses and should never be taken by pregnant or nursing women, or by those who may become pregnant.
2. Eat a Healthy Diet
The impact of diet on hair loss is not yet fully understood. However, there does appear to be a link between healthy, thick hair and a nutrient-rich diet. On the other hand, certain foods and drinks (such as refined grains, sugars, and alcohol) may increase the risk of hair loss. If you’re already experiencing baldness, it’s especially important to analyze your diet and make healthy changes as needed.
Give your hair the nutrients it needs to grow strong and healthy by consuming an anti-inflammatory diet. One scientific review suggests that the Mediterranean diet (which is rich in fresh herbs, raw vegetables, and other anti-inflammatory ingredients) can stimulate hair growth. But you don’t necessarily need to follow an official diet to keep your locks thick and luscious. Just avoid highly processed and sugary foods while consuming more nutrient-dense whole foods.
3. Reduce Stress
Stress is one of the most common triggers of telogen effluvium, which is hair loss caused by some sort of trauma. Telogen effluvium typically causes more hair loss on top of the head than anywhere else. Most people with this type of hair loss don’t experience a receding hairline. However, some may lose eyebrow hair or other bodily hair.
Many people live with chronic stress due to demanding jobs, illnesses, depression and anxiety disorders, or other causes. If you think too much stress may be causing your hair to thin, it’s important to try to combat it. Some people find great success in reducing their stress levels through regular meditation and exercise. For others, therapy or spending more time with loved ones helps them feel calmer and more grounded. It may take some time to learn what works for you, so be patient and persistent until you discover your preferred stress-busting methods.
4. Stop Smoking
It’s no secret that smoking is bad for your body and can lead to a variety of health issues. Lung cancer and premature aging are two well-known risks associated with smoking. But many people don’t realize that cigarettes can also contribute to hair loss. Cigarettes contain many toxic chemicals that are bad for the body in general. But it’s the nicotine inside them that may have the worst impact on hair growth.
Nicotine damages the hair follicles by releasing free radicals, which are unstable molecules that destroy healthy cells. The free radicals released by nicotine inhibit new hair cell production and damage existing hair cells. Nicotine also overstimulates sebaceous glands in the scalp and causes excess oil. This oil can clog the hair follicles and weaken them. Quitting smoking may be one of the best things you can do to recover from hair loss.
Whether you’re dealing with short-term telogen effluvium or long-term male pattern baldness, there are steps you can take to slow the progression. It may not be possible to totally regrow all of your hair. However, there are things you can do to stimulate hair regrowth and boost the health of the hair you currently have. From using topical medications to eating a healthier diet, the recommendations above can help you keep your locks as thick and beautiful as possible.