Treating Hair Loss: Three Common Questions on Hair Loss
By Christopher A. English, MD
Jun 12, 2019
Updated Jul 13, 2023
5 min read
The last thing I thought I’d experience in my early 20s was hair loss. But there was no doubt, my four-head was becoming a five-head. What I didn’t realize then was that hair loss, even in young people, is extremely common, and thankfully, effective treatment options are available.
Some of the factors contributing to or causing hair loss, thinning hair, or baldness, are at least partly under your control. While you can’t rewrite your genetic code if baldness runs in your family, other issues leading to hair loss, from untreated medical conditions to poor nutrition, can be remedied.
Genetics. The most common cause is hereditary hair loss, also known as male or female pattern hair loss. Thank mom and dad for this one. Everyone loses hair with age, but in genetically predisposed people, it happens at a much quicker rate and in a characteristic pattern. It can occur at almost any age, but it’s more common in later years.
Scalp or hair disease. Infectious or inflammatory diseases of the scalp or hair cause destruction of the hair follicles. These diseases are often itchy, flaky, or painful and can result in permanent hair loss if not treated.
Aggressive styling. Certain hair styling techniques are common causes of hair loss, such as frequent heating, tightly pulling, and regular perming.
Medical problems. Stress, vitamin deficiencies, certain medications, and illnesses or underlying medical conditions such as thyroid disease can cause hair loss.
Make an appointment to see your dermatologist. The most critical component to regrowing your hair is getting the right diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional with experience treating hair disease. Dermatologists manage not only skin diseases but hair and nail diseases as well. It is important to seek help early in the disease process. Our bodies have an easier time stopping hair loss than regrowing hair.
Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. Poor nutrition, including vitamin deficiencies can cause hair loss. Fad or crash dieting can have the same negative effect as eating a diet based on junk food. Ensure you’re eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.
Avoid damaging hair. Limit tightly pulled hair styles, excessive heating, frequent chemical treatments, and regular weaves.
Consider camouflage. If some hair is still present, hair loss concealer is a great option. This product uses fibers to bond to existing hair. With practice, hair loss concealers can produce a very natural look. You can also explore new hairstyles that hide thin areas or consider a high-quality wig.
Hair transplant. If hair loss is severe and does not respond to medical management, then hair transplant may be an option.
No one should suffer with unwanted hair loss. If an underlying health problem is the real cause of your hair loss, getting it quickly diagnosed and treated will not only spare your hair, but also your health. Talk to your doctor about your diet, stressors, and any other symptoms you may be experiencing in addition to your hair loss.
Pay attention to your hair — it can be a clue to a health issue going on inside your body that needs attention.