Hair loss hacks- what works and what's the worst!

hair loss hair loss treatment hair shedding postpartum hair loss Nov 06, 2023

Losing your hair can feel like you're losing your mind, right? For men and women alike, hair holds so much psychosocial significance, so when it starts thinning or falling out, it can be really distressing! But don’t worry; there are things that can be done.

The first step is to be seen by a dermatologist! Dermatologists are the experts when it comes to everything skin, hair, and nails. A visit for hair loss can often be lengthy, as your dermatologist will want to take a thorough history and physical exam. Plus, there are over 20 causes of hair loss, so it's not always a simple answer! Now, I know it might sound like a process, but trust me, it's worth it.

Your dermatologist will want to know about your medical history and any changes, new medicines or dose adjustments, recent surgeries, and life stressors such as a new baby, divorce, new job, or move. Consider maintaining a hair diary. Note when you first noticed the hair loss, and jot down any accompanying symptoms such as itching or pain. Sometimes the culprit behind your hair shedding can even precede the hair loss by 6-9 months!

Your dermatologist may want to perform some diagnostic tests such as a hair pull test to assess the number of hairs shedding and their stage in the growth cycle. At times a scalp biopsy is needed, both of the area of hair loss and sometimes of 'normal' appearing hair for comparison. 

Your dermatologist may also order labs to rule out an underlying medical condition like low iron, low thyroid, low vitamin D, or hormonal imbalances. Addressing these issues, if identified, can help with hair loss.

What supplements can you take to address hair loss?

Let's talk about supplements, and one that's in the spotlight these days is vitamin D.  While we do convert vitamin D to its active form in the skin via the sun, supplementing is a much healthier way to increase this over sun tanning! The general recommendation is to take 1000-2000 IU daily, but if your levels are low, your doctor might prescribe a much higher dose! 

Did you know that melatonin has been shown to be helpful for speeding hair regrowth for those dealing with telogen effluvium? Combining this with topical minoxidil can help this non-scarring hair loss improve faster for people!

Another oldie but goodie is the return of minoxidil for female and male pattern baldness orally. Low dose minoxidil has been shown to improve hair thinning in patients with few side effects. While higher doses can impact blood pressure, at less than 5 mg per day, it can be safely used. Some individuals may experience a slight increase in peach fuzz-like hair growth on their face, but this is typically mild, and most are happy with the thickening and improvement of their scalp hair!

Bidding Farewell to Biotin!

Treatments that we are saying goodbye to in 2023 include excessive biotin supplementation. While biotin may help strengthen and grow nails, the results for hair loss and hair regrowth are disappointing. Beyond being a waste of time and money, overdoing biotin supplements can lead to abnormal blood work, affecting thyroid levels and cardiac tests designed to detect heart issues. It's time to retire biotin as a hair loss treatment!

Another in office treatment that's gaining popularity is the use of platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections for hair loss. PRP involves extracting your own blood, particularly the plasma, and reinjecting it into the scalp or the area experiencing hair loss to encourage growth. With solid data backing its effectiveness, PRP gets a definite thumbs-up from me as a hair loss treatment! If you've had PRP and have been disappointed in your results, make sure you are seeing someone knowledgeable in scalp anatomy and hair loss. When placed incorrectly in the scalp, PRP can't reach the hair follicles and stimulate growth!

If you are experiencing hair loss, take heart that not all is lost! Schedule a visit with your dermatologist for an accurate diagnosis and personalized treatment recommendations. And remember to breathe. Hair loss solutions don't deliver overnight results; it typically takes a minimum of 3-6 months to see noticeable changes!

This week on the podcast I discuss Hair Loss Hacks with Dr. Cheryl Burgess! Tune in for a chat filled with useful insights and easy-to-follow tips to tackle hair loss. Dr. Burgess's knowledge is a game-changer for healthier and happier hair!

Follow Dr. Cheryl Burgess here:-

A new podcast episode of THE SKIN REAL drops every Monday!



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