Tips on Hair Loss

Out of the more than 100,000 hairs on the average scalp, 50 to 100 hairs will fall out, or shed, every day simply due to hair’s natural growth cycle. But if you lose much more hair than that on a daily basis, chances are that someone on either your mother’s or father’s side of the family suffered the same fate; according to the Mayo Clinic, over 90 percent of hair loss cases are genetically determined. However, unlike your balding ancestor(s), you can usually do something about your hair loss.

Proven Remedies

There are numerous products on the market that claim to be able to restore hair loss. The not-for-profit and physician-run American Hair Loss Association states that, “The bottom line is that the vast majority of advertised ‘treatments’ do not work for the prevention and treatment of hair loss.” The organization recommends two clinically proven treatments for both men and women–minoxidil (brand names Rogaine, Loniten) and finasteride (brand names Propecia, Proscar)–and notes that some topical products not originally intended for hair loss (“off-label use”) may also help women: ketoconazole (Nizoral), some forms of oral contraceptives (e.g., brand names Diane 35 and Diane 50, both approved in Europe for the treatment of women’s hair loss), hormone replacement therapy pills and creams, cyproterone acetate, cimetidine (Tagamet) and spironolactone (Aldactone). Your doctor will be able to advise the best course of treatment for your particular situation.

Diet

Though genes play such a dominant role in hair loss, lifestyle choices can also contribute to the problem. Hair needs proper nourishment, including protein, B-complex vitamins (in particular B-6, choline, biotin, inositol and folic acid), vitamins C and E, and the minerals iron and zinc. Dr. Wilma Bergfeld, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, notes that a lack of iron, for example, can stop new hair from growing, so that the 50 to 100 hairs you lose on a daily basis will not be replenished with new growth, leading to noticeable hair loss. So if your diet is heavy on junk food and empty calories (e.g., sweets and alcohol), eat more vegetables, fruits and lean sources of protein, and avoid fad diets that over-emphasize one food group/item. If you know that you’re simply not going to be eating right all the time, consider supplementing your diet with a good multivitamin/mineral formula.

Lifestyle

Daniel K. Hall-Flavin, M.D., writing for the Mayo Clinic website, notes that stress, caused by physical or emotional trauma, can lead to two types of hair loss: telogen effluvium and alopecia areata. The former pushes hair into a resting (i.e., non-growing) phase, and after a few months the hair begins to fall out due to simple brushing or washing; and in the latter, alopecia areata, white blood cells attack hair follicles, causing the hair to fall out within only a few weeks. The good news is that both forms of hair loss are reversible once the stress is gone; the bad news is that hair re-growth may take months. Since stress is part of daily life, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following coping strategies: laugh more, exercise, keep a diary so you can identify the things that stress you out, join a support group (in general, being more sociable will reduce stress), learn to meditate and simplify your life.

About this Author

Roman Tsivkin is a New York-based writer and editor. He joined Demand Studios in 2006, and has written hundreds of articles for LIVESTRONG and eHow. He has a B.A. in philosophy from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Master of Library Science degree from San Jose State University.