Hair loss isn’t an uncommon problem for aging adults, and unfortunately neither are scams and snake oils promising impossible results. Navigating the landscape of miracle cures and quick solutions can seem stressful, but a trustworthy dermatologist can work realistic wonders.
Hair loss, or alopecia is a condition that impacts millions of people every year. It’s natural to lose upwards of 150 hairs in a day, but when that rate accelerates, hair loss is occurring. As we age, the body’s hair follicles produce fewer hairs. Universally, people experience some level of thinning. For many people, hereditary thinning and baldness is common. Hereditary, male pattern baldness or female pattern thinning is common, but the causes aren’t yet fully understood. If your parents or other older family members have pattern baldness or thinning, you are more common to develop the same condition.
Other forms of hair loss are more serious, but also not understood. In rare situations, completely bald patches occur on the scalp or other body parts, or you may experience total loss of hair on the scalp or total loss of all body hair. These forms of alopecia are most likely caused by the immune system mistakenly attacking hair follicles. Sometimes, early hair loss symptoms don’t even involve your hair. Fingernail pitting occurs when alopecia impacts the nail bed. Pitting is characterized by small indentations or craters in the surface of some or all nails. Regardless of how hair loss shows itself, you’re probably looking for ways to make it better quickly. That’s why it’s so challenging to navigate the tricky world of scam hair loss products.
If you’re losing your hair, you probably have been on the lookout for something affordable and also effective. Unfortunately, you’ve probably come across a lot of products that promise impossible results. Biotin, a B vitamin, often promises hair restoration. It can be bought over the counter, but there are no scientific studies that prove it helps promote hair growth or regrowth. The one exception is if you actually have a biotin deficiency. In that case, biotin can help your hair. Most people do not have a biotin deficiency, but a blood test can pin that down easily. Biotin isn’t inherently a scam, but soaps and dietary supplements that suggest they can single-handedly solve hair loss are not to be relied upon.
At-home laser or light therapies are another hair loss treatment that guarantees far more than it can deliver. These light therapy treatments are devices like combs, hats or hoods that expose your scalp to certain visual wavelengths of light. The scientific conceit of this is that when follicles absorb light, growth is encouraged. While this is certainly true for laser and light therapy offered by a dermatologist, at-home kits are new and untested. Improperly administered laser and light therapies can cause damage to your skin. Prolonged, at-home exposure to concentrated light could cause skin cancer.
The most effective treatments for hair loss are topical and oral medications. The prescription strength drug minoxidil is a topical medication that can give you real results. Prescribed at the first sign of hair loss, minoxidil goes to work to stimulate hair growth. Minoxidil isn’t a cure. If you stop using it, hair loss will resume. Results take about 4 months to be noticed, but 2 of 3 men are good candidates for treatment. Finasteride is an oral treatment for men that inhibits the production of DHT, a hormone that causes hair loss. Mostly, finasteride stops hair loss, though it can also encourage growth for many.
Hair loss scams and hollow promises are frustrating, but separating fact from fiction is simple if you know what works. If you’re struggling to make sense of what’s right for you, call the experts at Northeast Dermatology Associates.
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