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For many men and women, a full head of hair is a big part of their overall physical appearance and image. If they start experiencing hair loss and hair thinning, it can severely impact confidence and mental health.
If you just started noticing a few extra strands in the drain after your shower, or a widening bald spot at the crown of your head, you may be wondering what you can do to help slow or stop hair loss and ideally, to promote new hair growth.
Here are strategies to consider.
Hair loss is sometimes caused by nutritional deficiencies and poor diet. Nutrient deficiencies that can affect hair include:
To make sure you’re getting the nutrients you need, be sure to eat a diet full of lean meats, vegetables, whole grains, and fresh fruits. Avoid saturated fats, overly processed foods, and mostly carbohydrate-based meals.
Even with a healthy diet, it can be difficult to hit your nutrition goals with food intake alone. Vitamin supplements – in the form of oral capsules and injectable nutrition – can help bridge the gap.
You can take a one-a-day multivitamin to hit your general nutritional needs. You can also look into specific nutritional supplements, like Biotin and Vitamin D, to target individual nutrients that may help with hair loss and hair thinning. It's important to check your nutrient levels prior to supplementing to make sure you don't over-supplement.
Drinking plenty of water is important, as well. Dehydration can cause hair to become dry, brittle, and snap off. This may cause your hair to look thinner, with more broken strands accumulating in the drain catch.
Severe dehydration can also accelerate hair loss and slow hair regrowth, which can lead to thinning and balding
Stress is another common cause of hair loss.
That’s because stress triggers the release of a hormone called cortisol. High cortisol levels can disrupt the typical cycle of the hair follicle.
It’s normal for a follicle to release its hair strand and regrow hair over time. In fact, this is happening constantly and sporadically all over your head, which is why some minor hair loss is expected (think about the couple of strands that end up in your brush after you comb your hair).
But when the hair growth cycle is interrupted, hair may be lost too soon, and new hair may take longer to grow in – or stop growing altogether. This is why you can develop hair loss and hair thinning when you experience high cortisol levels.
It typically takes weeks or months of chronic stress before you’ll begin to see an affect on your hair. If you’re having ongoing stress and experiencing hair loss, stress management can help. Read our stress management tips and see supplements we recommend to reduce stress.
Heavy smoking, drinking, and/or drug use can cause hair loss and hair thinning.
There are more than 7,000 chemicals in cigarettes, and many of them damage the cardiovascular system. This can decrease blood flow throughout the body, including to the scalp, which may hinder hair follicles from growing. Smoking can also cause inflammation, oxidative stress from an increase in free radicals, and other health concerns that can make hair thin, brittle, and more likely to fall out.
Heavy drinking can cause a decline in overall health, which can lead to weak and stressed hair. It can also cause nutritional deficiencies for important nutrients like iron and zinc, which play a role in hair health. Binge drinking can cause hormone imbalances that can lead to hair falling out and turning fragile, as well.
Illegal drugs can cause a myriad of health problems depending on the type of drug. Drug addictions often damage multiple bodily systems which can affect hair loss and thinning – and overall health.
It’s not easy to quit smoking, drinking, and/or drugs, but it’s an important step in reclaiming your health and stopping your hair loss.
Androgenic alopecia is also called male- and female-pattern baldness, and it’s one of the most common causes of hair loss in men and women. It’s caused by a genetic sensitivity to the hormone Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
If your hair loss is caused by androgenic alopecia, unfortunately diet and lifestyle changes will not stop the hair loss. This condition often requires medical treatment to slow and reverse hair loss and hair thinning.
The first step to discovering whether you have androgenic alopecia is to order blood testing and consult with a knowledgeable provider.
Lab tests we typically recommend to identify androgenic alopecia include:
These tests provide insight into overall health and eliminate other causes of hair loss, including liver and kidney disease, a nutritional deficiency, a thyroid condition, a hormone deficiency, anemia, and others.
It’s important to properly identify the cause of your hair loss so that you can start the right treatment. Addressing the problem quickly with effective treatments is the best way to avoid permanent and irreversible hair loss.
If your test results indicate androgenic alopecia, there are several treatment options available. Your provider will discuss these with you in-depth during your consultation if you choose care with Defy Medical.
If you have androgenic alopecia or hair loss caused by something other than lifestyle and diet, medical therapies are the next step. Currently, there are two main medications approved by the FDA to stop hair loss and promote hair growth: Finasteride and Minoxidil.
Finasteride is an oral medication that stops the production of DHT, which in turn stops the follicles’ negative reaction to the hormone. While effective, Finasteride can also cause severe hormone deficiency since DHT is an important hormone in the body. Some men report issues with erectile dysfunction when taking Finasteride, and it is typically not recommended for men with low Testosterone for this reason.
Minoxidil is a topical application with fewer negative side effects. It shows promise in promoting blood flow to hair follicles. This can reverse the effect of shrinking follicles if used early enough during the onset of androgenic alopecia.
Through our partnership with compounding pharmacies, Defy Medical also offers patients access to the following hair loss and thinning medications (and compounded combinations):
Another leading-edge treatment to consider is platelet-rich plasma injections, or PRP injections.
PRP injections use your own platelet rich plasma to deliver healing properties to targeted areas of the body. Platelet rich plasma includes the platelets and growth factors found in the blood that promote wound healing and recovery, among other functions.
With PRP injections for hair loss, these growth factors are injected strategically into the scalp to increase blood flow, boost healing, and encourage regeneration.
This treatment works best with patients who have hair loss and thinning but who are not totally bald – which is why it’s important to catch androgenic alopecia early and begin treating it as quickly as possible.
Lifestyle factors can impact the health of your hair. Adopting a healthy diet, drinking lots of water, taking supplements to avoid a vitamin deficiency, developing stress management strategies, and quitting unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking can help protect your hair.
It’s also important to look into the cause of your hair loss, to make sure you’re treating the right condition. Testing for androgenic alopecia can identify whether you have a genetic sensitivity DHT. This condition is called androgenic alopecia, or male- and female-pattern baldness.
For more serious hair loss and hair thinning issues, topical and oral prescriptions and procedures like PRP injections can help stop hair loss and promote hair growth.
Our care team has helped many patients stop hair loss and promote hair growth, so they feel more confident and secure in their looks.
We take an individualized approach to each patient, identifying the root cause of your hair loss and creating a specialized treatment just for you. We’ll discuss your symptoms, goals for treatment, and test results and put together a plan that will help you with your hair loss.
We offer convenient telemedicine consultations, an easy-to-use online patient portal, and medications delivered directly to your door. If you opt for PRP injections to treat hair loss, this therapy is performed by our skilled staff at our Defy Medical Tampa clinic.