My best friend is a nurse and she frequently gets asked unusual questions. Last week, her 22-year-old patient asked me how to stop his hair loss.
At such a young age, She was a little bewildered that this was an issue. Early hair loss is NOT something she learned in Nursing School, she told me. so I did my research and asked her. Maybe you also face young hair loss and this information will help you too.
How can I stop hair loss at a young age? You can slow or reduce hair loss at a young age by taking Vitamins A, B, and E, reducing the chemicals used in your hair, and keeping it clean. Good nutrition and hydration also play key roles. Monitor the medications you take, as some may have hair loss as a known side effect.
It is normal to lose an average of over 100 strands of hair per day. This is NOT the hair loss we are talking about here. This article is focused on long-term, systemic hair loss resulting in visible differences over a fairly short amount of time. If you’re considering a wig or toupee, read on.
What Causes Early Hair Loss?
According to the Mayo Clinic, there are at least 6 factors that can contribute to hair loss at any age. We will look at each individually to see if they apply to you.
This is the most common type of hair thinning or loss. There is male-pattern baldness, which most of us are familiar with, and female-pattern baldness.
Male-pattern baldness generally starts at the hairline and recedes backward. Sometimes there will be a circular area at the crown and the two work toward one another.
Female-pattern baldness is less site-specific and tends toward a general overall thinning of the hair.
Hormonal Changes or Medical Conditions
Various medical conditions can cause temporary or permanent hair loss. These include the hormonal changes associated with pregnancy or menopause, and different thyroid issues
Additionally, there are conditions that are specific to hair loss. Alopecia areata is the medical term for a condition that causes patchy baldness anywhere on the body. It can affect the head, beard, eyebrows or anywhere else that hair is present. Alopecia totalis causes hair loss over the entire body. This is the “alopecia” most people are most familiar with.
Scalp infections like ringworm can also cause temporary hair loss, but hair returns once the infection is cleared.
There are even mental disorders that can cause us to lose our hair. Trichotillomania is a disorder that leads a person to compulsively pull their own hair out. Obviously, this leads to hair loss pretty quickly.
Medications and Supplements
Various medications, including some for managing cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, gout, and depression have hair loss as a side effect.
A list of the top 10 primary medication culprits are:
1. Cholesterol-lowering drugs known as Simvastatin (Zocor) or Atorvastatin (Lipitor).
2. Anticoagulant known as Warfarin or Coumadin.
3. Blood pressure medications known as Captopril (Capoten) or Lisinopril (Zestrel). Hair loss is reported in only 1% of patients, however.
4. Psoriasis treatment medication known as Acitretin (Soriatane).
5. Anti-arrhythmia medication known as Amiodarone (Corderone or Pacerone). Hair loss is considered to be a “rare” side effect.
6. Anticonvulsant Divalproex (Depakote). This medication is also used for seizures, bipolar disorder, and migraine prevention.
7. Antacid medication known as Cimetidine (Tagamet). Hair loss is reported as an “infrequent” side effect.
8. Gout medication known as Colchicine (Mitigare).
9. Medications containing steroids like progesterone or testosterone. Examples include Depo-Provera injections, Provera and Prometrium.
10. Acne treatments that contain isotretinoin. These include the well-known brands of Accutane and Absorica.
Radiation therapy is used frequently in the management of tumors or cancers. It generally results in hair loss, in part or total. Interestingly, when/if the hair grows back, it is frequently very different than it was prior to the radiation. Texture, curl level and color can all be very different in the newly regrown hair.
After a very stressful event or a physical/emotional shock is a common time to see temporary hair loss. This can continue for months after the occasion. Generally, the hair will return on its own.
Certain Hairstyles or Hair Treatments
Very tight styles like “pigtails” or “cornrows” can lead to a specific type of hair loss called “traction alopecia”.
Hair treatments like hot oil treatments or permanents can also lead to hair loss by damaging the supportive follicle. If the scarring of the follicle occurs, hair loss will be permanent.
How Can I Stop Losing My Hair?
There is a myriad of baldness prevention products on the market. Scalp stimulators and special shampoos, massage techniques and various supplements claiming to stop hair loss. Let’s get real. Rubbing bat dung on your head 3 times a day during the full moon probably isn’t going to solve the problem, though it will keep strangers away!
Instead, let’s focus on logical, scientifically sound concepts that may help either (a) regrown some hair or (b) slow down the rate of hair loss.
Shampoo. Wash your hair regularly with a mild shampoo. By keeping the scalp clean, you reduce the risk of an infection developing within the hair follicle and causing hair loss. Additionally, this simple step makes the existing hair look fuller, disguising the hair loss to the casual eye.
Reduce the damage. Hair stressors like blow dryers, curling irons, chemical coloring, bleach, tight braids, and hair straightening products all cause damage to the hair, making it brittle and more prone to breaking. Reduce your use of these items and you will find the hair you have looks better and lasts longer.
Vitamins. Hair loss can sometimes be linked to a vitamin deficiency or malnutrition. Additionally, there are certain vitamins that promote hair growth, strengthen the hair and add sheen and volume. Consider supplementing your diet with Vitamin A, which encourages the production of sebum in the scalp, Vitamin E, which increases blood circulation to the scalp and follicles and Vitamin B, which helps hair retain its healthy color.
Protein. Eat a diet rich in lean proteins, like fish, lean meats and soy. This promotes hair health and, in turn, curbs hair loss. It’s pretty good for the rest of your body, too.
Essential oils. Hair grows from follicles in the scalp. Increasing blood flow to those follicles can help stimulate them. Using an essential oil like lavender, for example, can help increase that blood flow. As stress and anxiety can also play a part in hair loss, the use of a relaxing oil, like lavender, may help address those concerns as well. Worst case…it feels and smells great.
Hydration. That’s right: hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. You hear it all the time and your hair is no different. The hair shaft is comprised of one-quarter water. Drinking 4 to 8 glasses of water daily to help maintain a healthy hair shaft.
Alcohol. Reduce your alcohol level (I know, no fun). Apparently drinking alcohol can reduce hair growth. While you’re at it, stop smoking. Smoking reduces blood circulation overall, including the hair follicles. You’ll look better and live longer. Kind of a win-win.
Helmets. Wearing a helmet routinely can also cause increased hair loss. Particularly during hot weather, the sweat and grime that accumulates on your hair and scalp is not only disgusting, it also weakens the hair root. If you must wear a helmet for work or personal safety, try protecting the hair with a bandanna or scarf to help absorb some of that sweat.
Chemicals. Reduce or eliminate the chemicals you use in your hair or on your scalp. As we discussed earlier, chemicals like lighteners, hair colors, straighteners, permanents and so forth really damage and weaken the hair shaft, as well as the root. If you want more hair, au naturel is your best friend.
Health. Maintain overall good health. See your doctor as needed. Your hair is an integral part of you and your body. A strong, healthy, mind-body-spirit connection will help make all of you healthier, including that hair you’re so anxiously fretting over.
Hair loss, particularly in a young person, is frustrating. Young people, perhaps more than any other social group, place a high premium on appearance. To be losing such a visually noticeable thing as your hair when young and vital could lead to social anxiety, ostracization, ridicule, and decreased self-esteem.
Like it or not, we live in a very visually focused, judgmental world. If you are a young man or young woman facing hair loss, I encourage you to speak with your doctor about his/her suggestions and options. I also encourage you to try some or all the suggestions noted above. Most are free, none will hurt you and, best-case scenario, you end up with better, fuller, more healthy-looking hair.
Either that or shave your head and claim you really dig Vin Diesel. The choice is yours.