The condition is largely the result of genetics – the inheritance of hair follicles with a sensitivity to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). These hair follicles get smaller over time and have a shorter life cycle, gradually producing less hair.
However, provided you spot the effects of female or male pattern baldness early, you can suppress the levels of DHT you are producing or even boost your body’s ability to combat against it. So, to shed some light on DHT sensitivity and how you can overcome it, we have provided the below guide.
1. Mix up your diet
You need to be getting a healthy dose of iron, protein and other nutrients if you hope to encourage healthy hair growth. Iron deficiency in particular is one of the major causes of hair loss in women. You can increase the amount of iron in your diet by eating more red meat, spinach and lentils.
Likewise, seafood, whole grains and leafy greens are a good source of B vitamins, which means they help to carry oxygen and nutrients to your scalp, aiding hair growth. B vitamins are also called biotin and can be purchased as a supplement for those looking to rejuvenate their scalp without the diet constraints.
Finally, foods containing vitamin C (including peppers, citrus fruits and strawberries) help prevent your hair from aging. By eating them, you ingest an antioxidant that helps protect against the oxidative stress caused by free radicals. They also help to produce collagen, which is integral to your hair structure.
2. Boost your vitamin intake with supplements
Of course, if it was that easy to strike a healthy food balance, people would not seek out vitamin supplements. Supplements take some of the strain of meal preparation away and allow you to get the nutrients you need with little-to-no effort. Iron and all the other vitamins above can be taken as a supplement, although it is still important to maintain a healthy diet.
Other supplements that target hair follicles include vitamin D. Low levels of vitamin D are linked to alopecia, because the vitamin helps you to create new follicles. By increasing your dosage, you are effectively able to promote hair growth. You can get vitamin D naturally through fatty fish, cod liver oil and mushrooms, however it largely comes from exposure to sunlight. So for those who work inside all day, supplements are a strong alternative.
Lastly, there is vitamin E. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can prevent oxidative stress. According to a study, vitamin E increases hair growth in sufferers of hair loss by 34.5%. It can also be found in almonds, spinach and avocados should you struggle to combine all the supplements mentioned here within your routine.
3. Encourage healthy follicles with medication
There are two forms of medication genuinely touted as solutions to hair growth: minoxidil and finasteride. Despite originally being taken in tablets to address hypertension, minoxidil today is the main ingredient in a hair treatment solution called Rogaine. Working in a similar way as blood pressure treatments, minoxidil dilates the blood vessels on the scalp and allows follicles to thrive.
Finasteride (or Propecia), on the other hand, works by blocking the enzyme 5α-reductase from converting testosterone to DHT – the leading cause of hair loss. It is widely considered to be the most effective hair medication when it comes to retaining your look. As soon as you stop taking the medication, however, you will restart the DHT production process and continue to lose your hair.
Out of the two, your doctor is perhaps more likely to recommend finasteride, purely due to its more tangible rates of success. Yet the side effects can be severe and cause some to rethink their course of action. If you find yourself struggling to maintain your dosage of Propecia, Rogaine is a worthy substitute. And with a trial suggesting that 62% of participants enjoyed a reduction in hair loss, there is cause to be optimistic.
Are there any other solutions?
Outside of hair transplants, there is not a great deal of choice for those suffering from pattern baldness or alopecia. Caffeine-based shampoo products like Alpecin do claim to promote healthy hair, but this is despite the fact that caffeine is not scientifically proven to have any effect.
In fact, Alpecin was actually banned from making such claims after the UK-based Advertising Standards Authority revealed there had been no “well-designed or well-conducted trial” that demonstrated hair growth.
There is also laser therapy, a low-level red light treatment that stimulates the follicles on your head in an attempt to restart the growth cycle. But each appointment is expensive, and in order for the procedure to be successful, you will need to have them weekly for the rest of your life. That being said, if the treatment is in your price range, they have been proven to improve hair health by up to 39%.
Deciding what works for you
As with most things, improving your physical wellbeing will help to improve your health – including that of your hair. However, it will not prevent the loss of follicles forever. And that is where medication comes in.
For many people, transplants and laser treatment appointments are simply unaffordable, which is why the likes of Rogaine and Propecia have proved so popular with Americans today.
At Medix, we can tell you more about the choices available and guide you to a solution that is most compatible with your routine. We understand the feelings that hair loss can bring, and recognize that by handling all queries with the utmost sensitivity. Contact us today for an informal chat with a member of our team.