Have you started to notice that your hair isn’t as thick as it used to be? Or are you seeing more strands on the bathroom floor than you used to? Many types of hair loss start with a thinning in the number of strands and/or the thickness of each strand.

Your hair thinning could be so slow that even into your 90s, other people might think you have a full head of hair, even if you’ve seen a change. Some people have thick hair until they’re in their 40s, for instance, and then have dramatic thinning over a two-year period.

Good news: There are treatments for men and women (often the same), from mild to aggressive, depending on the extent of the loss and how much action you want to take.


Treatments for Thinning Hair

Supplements. This is the bottom-rung approach. With so many formulas aimed at hair thickening or regrowth on the market and none of them FDA-regulated, look for supplements with clinical data to support the promised results. Also look at the ingredients—vitamins D, E and biotin have shown some benefit. Caution: Low iron also can be associated with hair loss, but it’s important to get tested before trying to remedy that on your own.


Low-level lasers. FDA-approved laser caps and combs are available for at-home use and usually are used every other night. These devices emit red light to encourage growth during the hair cycle’s resting stage, lengthening the growth phase and delaying the shedding phase. There is some clinical data to support their use.


Topical and oral medications. The topical mainstay has been minoxidil (Rogaine), available over the counter in a solution or foam and used daily or twice daily. Topical finasteride and spironolactone are other effective drugs that are prescribed off label for women. The oral versions of these drugs are even stronger. All are well-studied, but they can cause challenging side effects, such as decreased sex drive. Caution: Women of childbearing years should not use these drugs unless they are on birth control—they can cause birth defects.


Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injections. This treatment involves having your own blood drawn and spun in a centrifuge to isolate growth factors and platelets, which then are injected into areas of the scalp to stimulate hair growth.


Hair transplantation. This is the most aggressive option. It is the gold standard for success—moving hair from one area of your head to another.


How to Get Started

Starting treatment soon after you notice hair loss brings the best results. Talk to a dermatologist who specializes in hair rejuvenation about your concerns and what options are appropriate for you. Many of the above treatments work best in combination, such as a laser cap or microneedling plus minoxidil. The doctor also can explain the potential side effects.

Reminder: It often takes four months to see results, and you’ll need to stick with your treatment indefinitely if you want those results to last.

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