Do you look in the mirror, asking yourself how to prevent hair loss? Hair loss is a natural part of aging and for most people it’s inevitable. But wondering why your locks aren’t as thick and lustrous as they used to be isn’t a great way to spend your free time.
Whether you’re worried you might be losing your hair or are looking for ways to prevent hair loss from happening, you’ll most likely get bombarded with information on the internet, and not all of it is accurate. There is a ton of misinformation out there about hair loss and receding hairline, what it is, and how to prevent it.
This guide will help you sort out the right information so you can be ready to take the next steps to prevent hair loss.
Here’s the deal: hair loss isn’t as simple as just finding your lovely locks left behind on your pillow in the morning, or tangled in your brush, or coating the bathroom sink.
Not all hair loss is the same. A maturing hairline isn’t the same as male pattern baldness (also known as androgenetic alopecia). The Norwood Scale is a handy chart to determine if you’re actually balding or if your hairline is simply maturing, Norwood Scale. There are seven stages. (are there pictures we could attach for this?)
Stage 1: This is called the “control stage” where hair loss isn’t noticeable.
Stage 2: There is slight evidence of a receding hairline, usually around the temples.
Stage 3: This is when hair loss starts to become noticeable. The hairline recedes back and starts to form a defined “M” pattern. If you are experiencing a maturing hairline, this is where a receding hairline will stop. If you’re losing your hair, you’ll go past this stage.
Stage 4: Significant hair loss occurs at this stage. The hairline might start resembling a “U” shape and a bald spot at the crown is noticeable.
Stage 5: There’s a strip of hair between the top and the crown, which is now noticeably smaller and thinner.
Stage 6: Baldness is almost complete. The top and the crown are fully joined together and a defined “U” shape occurs.
Stage 7: There is a thin ring around the sides of the head and baldness is almost complete. The remainder of the hair is thinner and weaker.
A diagnosis at stage 3 or later on the Norwood Scale indicates male pattern baldness.
A maturing hairline is not the same as male pattern baldness. It is a natural and common occurrence in men where the hairline travels back about a half-inch from where it used to be. It’s a natural part of maturing and nothing to be concerned about.
In cases of hair loss, there are a myriad of reasons why it could be happening, from lifestyle and diet to an underlying medical condition or medications. According to the Canadian Hair Loss Foundation, there are over 100 potential causes of hair loss. Here are just a few of them:
Once you and your doctor determine what is causing your hair loss, you can start deciding on what to do about it. If you’re concerned about future hair loss, there are ways to help keep your hair as healthy as possible.
Preventing hair loss can include a combination of treatments, including prescription, lifestyle, and what styling products you use on your hair.
Here are some ways to prevent hair loss.
It’s always wise to consult your doctor first. They are a great resource and it doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong. It just means that they might have some advice and solutions for you. They also might be able to pin down why you’re losing your hair.
Your doctor can also identify underlying causes that might be more concerning. Once you’ve ruled out reversible causes like hormones, Felix’s healthcare practitioners can help you with the next steps in treating hair loss.
What you put into your body is just as what you put on it, and hair is no exception. If your diet is lacking nutrients including proteins, vitamins, and minerals, your hair will suffer for it. While male pattern baldness isn’t caused by poor diet, you can help to prevent further hair loss by addressing what you eat.
Proteins are one of those building blocks of life, and your body simply can’t function without them. They make up everything from the muscles that move you to your immune system.
Hair follicles are made mostly of a protein called keratin. Deficiencies in this protein can cause hair follicles to weaken, leading to hair loss.
You can increase your protein intake by including foods such as nuts, beans, eggs, fish, dairy, chicken, and turkey.
Just like protein, your body needs a full complement of vitamins and minerals to function properly. It’s always a good idea to eat a healthy diet packed with antioxidants that fight oxidative stress which ages your hair. Items like spinach, kidney beans, walnuts, and blueberries are all packed with antioxidants.
Vitamins and minerals that can also help include:
If you’re supplementing your diet with these vitamins and minerals, make sure you tell your doctor first.
How you treat your hair can have a huge impact on hair thinning and hair loss, and in some cases, can actually be the cause of hair loss.
There are a few things you can do to prevent hair loss and keep your locks as lustrous as possible.
There are some medical treatments for hair loss that don’t fall within the medications category, but that your doctor might consider depending on the cause of your hair loss.
Laser therapy is conducted with low-level lasers and has shown some signs of helping improve hair density for people with genetic hair loss or hair loss caused by chemotherapy or radiation.
Laser therapy works by stimulating epidermal stem cells, and is something that can be done in a clinic or at home. It may take many treatments to see results.
Platelet-rich plasma is a treatment used to help stimulate growth in areas already impacted by hair loss. It is an injectable solution of platelet-rich plasma and may take many sessions to see results.
Minoxidil (also known as Rogaine) stimulates hair growth. It’s probably the most well-known hair loss medication on the market. It’s a topical cream that you apply to your scalp and acts as a vasodilator, which opens blood vessels, helping to bring more blood to the surface. More blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients. And that means hair growth.
It’s important to note that minoxidil is not a cure. It will help delay further hair loss but it can’t bring hair back. If you stop using minoxidil, your hair loss will continue.
In Canada, minoxidil can be purchased over the counter in concentrations of 5% or lower. It can be used in combination with finasteride (which helps prevent the shrinkage or continued shrinkage of hair follicles).
Some side effects of minoxidil can include:
Some more serious side effects include:
If you are experiencing serious side effects or your side effects are worsening, seek medical assistance immediately.
Finasteride (or the brand name medication Propecia) was first approved by the FDA in 1997. Finasteride is used to treat male pattern baldness by preventing testosterone from converting to DHT, stopping or reducing the shrinkage of hair follicles. It can’t however cause hair to grow back.
Finasteride takes patience. You’ll most likely start to notice a difference around three to four months. For the full effects of finasteride, you’ll likely need to wait around six to nine months. If you discontinue using finasteride, hair loss will continue.
In order to mitigate side effects, finasteride is usually prescribed at low doses. Some side effects can include:
Rare and more serious side effects of finasteride include:
If you experience any serious side effects or your side effects worsen, seek medical assistance immediately. If you feel suicidal while on finasteride, stop using it right away and go to your nearest emergency department.
Corticosteroids are anti-inflammatory medications that help treat autoimmune conditions. For some people whose hair loss is a result of alopecia areata or scarring alopecia, corticosteroids can help counteract the effects of these conditions. Steroid treatments are usually administered every 4-to-6 weeks and can only be obtained with a prescription.
Androgens are sex hormones that can destroy or damage hair follicles. Antiandrogens are a prescription-only medication that helps to inhibit the damaging effects of androgens. If you take this medication, you’ll have to wait usually around 2-to-4 months of daily use to start to see results. Like finasteride and minoxidil, antiandrogens need to be taken continuously otherwise hair loss will start again.
While hair loss prevention shampoo has active ingredients that help prevent DHT from building up on your scalp, it can still be purchased without a prescription. It can be added to a finasteride and minoxidil regimen to help ward off further hair loss.
There are other natural methods that can be used to prevent hair loss, depending on what is causing your hair loss.
As mentioned above, stress can have a significant impact on hair health. If you’re stressed, your hair might be one of the casualties. Stress-related hair loss is often attributed to a type of hair loss known as telogen effluvium. With this type of hair loss, regrowth is possible over time.
Working towards reducing your stress levels is something you should talk to your doctor about. There might be other factors that are contributing to your stress, and other negative health outcomes as well.
While there is no conclusive empirical evidence that a scalp massage will help prevent hair loss, it does feel amazing. By massaging the scalp, you bring blood to the surface. And blood means oxygen, which is essential for healthy hair follicles.
Preventing hair loss shouldn’t be a burden and making the right decisions can take some help. There are a lot of options out there and finding the right course of action for you can take a bit of trial and error.
If you want to be proactive about hair loss, or if you have questions, speak to a healthcare practitioner. Start your online visit with Felix today.
The Felix Health Guide is educational content providing clinically-accurate, balanced information on different ailments and treatments. Some ailments, medications, and treatments mentioned in the content may not be offered by Felix.
The views expressed are those of the author and are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare practitioner.