As women flood dermatologist's offices for treatments for thinning hair, we had to wonder, are we all really suffering from hair loss—or do we all just think we are?
If you were sitting at my desk right now, you'd think everyone was suddenly losing their hair. There are hair-growth supplements, hair-thickening fibers, scalp treatments said to help you sprout healthier follicles, shampoos and conditioners meant to create a healthier hair-growing environment, and any number of "densifying" stylers. So is hair loss on the rise, or are there just (finally!) better solutions? (See also: Do Gummy Vitamins Really Help Your Hair Grow?)
Thankfully, it's the latter. "Our treatment options have improved," says Kristina Goldenberg, M.D., a dermatologist practicing at Goldenberg Dermatology in New York City. Dr. Goldenberg reports that a whopping 25 percent of her dermatology practice is now made up of hair loss and restoration treatments for people 25 and over. "Some are even coming in for preventative measures," she adds.
Dr. Goldenberg says that while you and your doctor need to determine the cause of your hair loss before deciding on the appropriate treatment plan, for her patients with hair loss due to genetics (the most common cause), a combination of vitamin B complex injections, rogaine, and theradome (a laser hair-growth treatment for home use that has been cleared by the FDA) can be very effective. And combining these treatments with periodic PRP—plasma-rich protein—injections can offer enhanced results.
"But before you can pin hair loss on your genes, your doctor will have to take an extensive history and check your bloodwork to rule out an internal cause," says Dr. Goldenberg. She notes that some other causes for hair loss that we don't often think about are: vitamin deficiencies, new medications, recent surgeries, stress, weight loss, and hormonal changes.
Now, if you're the type who routinely believes that you have every condition people are talking about, keep in mind that losing 100 strands a day is normal. When you start noticing significant hair loss in the shower, on your pillow, or in your comb after brushing your hair, however, it may be time to be evaluated by a dermatologist. And while treatment options are improving at breakneck speed—see: umbilical cord stem cell injections, which help repair damaged follicles and can potentially stimulate the growth of new follicles—proper hair care is where you want to start, says Dr. Goldenberg. "Hair, like skin, requires very specific care. Avoiding harsh treatments with chemicals and heat is perhaps the best thing you can do for your hair. But eating a balanced diet—lots of lean protein, less processed food—also helps."