One of the most common – and perhaps easiest – ways to deal with thin hair is to use hair-care products designed to add volume to skimpy strands. The thinking behind these products goes something like this: Even a small amount of hair looks like a lot when puffed up into frothy fullness. In addition to shampoos labeled “volumizing” or “thickening,” there are also conditioning rinses, leave-in volumizing lotions, styling spritzes, and mousses. If you were born with lank hair and can’t pin its causes on anything but heredity, this is a good route to try.
Stimulating hair growth
You’ve probably heard a lot about medications designed to stimulate hair growth. While most of the talk – and research – surrounding these drugs focuses on men, many can be used by women with similar effects.
Many medical authorities view thinning hair as a cosmetic issue which means that your treatment expenses may not be covered.
Minoxidil (or Rogaine, as it is commercially known) began as a treatment for high blood pressure. It evolved into a popular scalp treatment when physicians noticed that it also promoted hair growth. It isn’t known exactly how minoxidil helps hair growth, but it seems to stop or slow hair loss and promote a little new growth. The product is massaged onto the scalp two times a day and has been proven to re-grow hair in up to 25 percent of users.
Minoxidil seems to be most effective at the crown and least effective around the face, while the hair it grows is fuzzy and probably finer than the stuff you lost. If you stop using the product, you lose whatever new hair appeared.
In a small number of people, cortisone shots can help slow or halt loss or stimulate the follicles to grow new hair. However, it has many side effects, including water retention, moodiness, and weight gain, and should be used with caution.
Propecia is an oral prescription drug used as a treatment for male baldness. However some maverick dermatologists are successfully using it on their female patients. The drug (also known as Finestre) has been studied on men and has been shown to fe-grow natural hair in two out of three men, while halting hair loss in five out of six men. The drug nudges affected hair follicles to re-grow hair that is nearly as thick as the original hair – it is most effective in the crown area. The bad news is that Propecia takes up to 12 months to work, and any hair that re-grows can be lost if you stop taking the medication.
Androgenetic alopecia is the cause of more than 95 percent of both male and female hair loss.
Considering hair pieces
A visible scalp can be covered with wigs, partial hairpieces, and “hair integration units” – in which a web of fake strands is attached to your existing hair. The up side to these options is that none are medical. The down side is that they do not look like natural hair, can be expensive, and can come loose at inopportune times. With the hair integration unit, you must return to the physician or salon every 4 to 6 weeks to have the unit adjusted.
Looking at the surgical options
While men who often suffer from bald spots are great candidates for hair-transplant surgery – a doctor can harvest a few follicles from a lushly forested area of a guy’s head and “replant” the follicles in bald areas – women don’t usually get totally bald patches. When we lose hair, we’re more likely to suffer from all-over thinning, which makes hair transplants a less successful option for us. However, if you find that most of your thinning is in one place, for example, on your crown, a dermatologist or plastic surgeon may be able to “plant” a few hair-growing follicles through your sparse spots.
The hair follicle growth cycle is about 90 percent wowth and about 10 percent rest. At any given time, about 10 percent of your hair follicles are resting and not growing new hairs. The resting follicles are randomly distributed over the scalp, so the resting follicles do not create bald spots.