If you’ve lost your hair in four, you’re not alone.
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Hair lossknown as alopecia, is a common condition that affects more than 80 million Americans.
So how do you know if you are losing more than normal?
On average, most people lose around 100 strands of hair per day. And with new strands growing to replace lost ones, most won’t notice a difference.
But if fewer or no strands are growing back and you start to notice a receding hairline or areas of thinning, you might have alopecia.
Dermatologist Wilma Bergfeld, MDtalks about ways to stop hair loss, what can cause it and if it can be reversed.
Ways to stop hair loss
Losing your hair not only affects your appearance, but it can also cause emotional stress and affect your confidence. There are a few things you can do to help stop hair loss, though.
Eat more protein
You may not be getting enough protein every day and this can affect your hair growth.
Especially if you are vegan or vegetarian, you may need to increase the amount of protein you eat.
“You need 40 to 60 grams a day,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “You can drink your protein, you don’t have to eat it in food stuff.”
Other ways to meet your daily protein needs include eating beans and legumes, eggs, or Greek yogurt.
Your doctor can perform various tests to see if you have a vitamin deficiency. Certain vitamins and minerals like vitamins A, B, C, D, E, zinc and iron can affect your hair growth.
Dr. Bergfeld successfully prescribed Biotin Forte with Zinc, a supplement that helps maintain healthy hair, skin, and muscle tissue.
“There are new ones that include saw palmetto, calcium, and selenium,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “It’s all good. Just look for ones that come from a reputable company.
Follow the Mediterranean Diet
Eating fruits, vegetables and protein – the main ingredients of the Mediterranean diet – can be helpful, especially compared to other fad diets.
“When you follow these restrictive diets, you may lose weight, but it’s probably something you can’t maintain,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “And they’re usually lacking in something your hair follicles need.”
Use over-the-counter hair loss medications
You may have heard of minoxidil, the over-the-counter medication that helps prevent hair loss.
Available as a solution or a mousse applied to your scalp, the drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at a 5% concentration.
“We considered using low-dose oral minoxidil as a treatment,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “There are a handful of studies which show how useful and safe it is.
Try low intensity laser light therapy
The FDA has approved this new treatment to help with hair growth.
But low-level laser light therapy devices, which include wands and helmets, can be time-consuming and expensive, with options costing between $200 and $1,000.
“It can reduce skin inflammation and initiate hair growth,” says Dr. Bergfeld. ” It is obvious. You have no drug interactions. You have no intolerance. The worst thing you can get is a little sunburn on your scalp, which can be treated simply by using lotion or even just reducing the exposure time.
Maintain good hair and scalp care
Avoid harsh hair treatments like hot tools, hair dyes, and bleaching. Hairstyles like tight ponytails or braids can also affect your hair. Keep your scalp healthy by washing your hair and scalp regularly.
“Any inflammation of the scalp will affect the hair growth cycle,” says Dr. Bergfeld.
Why is your hair falling out
You might start seeing more hair loss than normal with the following:
- Hormonal changes like pregnancy or menopause.
- Certain hairstyles.
- Harmful hair care like perms or bleaching.
- Medications like chemotherapy.
- Medical conditions such as fungal infections or thyroid disease.
By working with a dermatologist, you can begin to identify what might be causing your hair loss. Your doctor will ask you questions about your health, medications, and family history.
“I tell patients to keep track of events that are unusual for them, for example, a heavy menstrual period,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “So when we come back to look for triggers, we’ll have a clue as to what it might be.”
Your doctor will also examine other areas of your body like your eyebrows, eyelashes, armpits, pubic area, legs, and arms to assess if there is any hair loss.
Often hair loss is an indicator that something more serious is going on.
“Hair loss, especially hair loss, is just a sign that something has happened to the body,” says Dr. Bergfeld. “The hair follicle is one of the three fastest growing cell lines in your body. Anything that affects your body and imbalance will affect these systems, so hair loss is an indicator that something is wrong.
Can hair loss be reversed?
Yes and no. It depends on the type of hair loss you are experiencing.
Some types, like Cicatricial Alopecia, are permanent, while others that may be caused by stress or a medical condition are temporary. Once the cause is identified and eliminated, your hair should begin to regrow.
“Typically, if the trigger goes away or whatever the cause of the hair follicle injury, the hair recovers over a period of four to six months to a year,” says Dr. Bergfeld.