Losing hair is always a cause for concern; it can look unsightly and can often be a symptom of a more serious condition. Although it’s typical for men in their middle age to start losing hair, there are conditions that can affect younger men and women too.
In the past, we used to accept baldness as an irreversible condition. Fortunately, it is often possible to regrow hair thanks to recent developments. There are now several effective ways to grow hair in bald spots, although they do not work for all patients.
To choose the right treatment, it’s important to first uncover the cause of the baldness. Sometimes there’s an existing illness or condition that will continue to attack the hair until it is remedied. Stimulating new hair growth would be impeded by this condition, so it needs to be treated first.
There are several common causes of bald spots:
- Male pattern baldness
- An autoimmune condition named “Alopecia Areata”
- Fungal infections of the scalp
- Malnutrition (sometimes caused by eating disorders)
- Harsh hair treatments
- Tight hairstyles or braiding
Male pattern baldness is extremely common, affecting most men at some point in their lives. It develops slowly, with a receding hairline and the thinning of hair on the crown. According to the US National Library of Medicine, genetics also plays a role. If your father had male pattern baldness, you are likely to as well.
The condition is caused by hormones, which make the hair follicles in the scalp shrink. As a result, the hair becomes thinner until it can no longer grow. However, the follicles are still alive, so it is often possible to treat them.
Alopecia Areata is an autoimmune condition. It occurs when the immune system mistakes the hair follicles for an invading organism and attacks them. Usually, the baldness develops in irregular patches, which expand over time. The hair loss can occur all over the body, not just on the head. Because the immune system is attacking and killing follicle cells, it’s harder to treat the condition, although there are some newer treatments that are getting positive results.
Of course, prevention is always better than treatment. There are some steps that can help prevent the formation of bald spots, or slow down their spread. The Mayo Clinic recommends:
1: Eating a nutritionally balanced diet, with protein and plenty of water.
2: Avoiding tight hairstyles such as braids, buns, or ponytails.
3: Avoid twisting or pulling hair.
4: Wash and brush your hair gently. Try using a wide-toothed comb, instead of a fine one.
5: Avoid harsh treatments involving hot temperatures, such as straighteners, curling irons, hot oil treatments, etc.
There are some medical treatments for male pattern baldness. Some of them are even available without a doctor’s prescription. The Mayo Clinic recommends minoxidil, which is marketed as Rogaine. You apply the minoxidil directly to the scalp. Minoxidil usually takes several months to work, and you have to keep using it. When you stop, the follicles will shrink again, causing the baldness to come back.
There are fewer ways to grow hair in bald spots caused by Alopecia Areata. Recent studies into the use of platelet rich blood injections have been very promising for stimulating new hair to grow in bald patches. Platelet-rich blood is taken from the patient and injected into the infected areas of the scalp.
It seems that platelet-rich blood includes healing factors that stimulate the patient’s stem cells. They then repair the damaged hair follicles, and the result is new hair. Platelet rich blood is currently under investigation as a treatment for many different types of injuries that are hard to treat.
There is also some evidence that alternative medicine can be effective in treating hair loss caused by Alopecia Areata. The Mayo Clinic recommends massaging a mixture of oils into the affected area. The combination they have found most effective is a mixture of lavender, thyme, rosemary, and cedarwood.
The outlook is promising for people with bald patches. The first step is to consult with your doctor and rule out any environmental factors or illnesses that can cause baldness. Then, choose a treatment that is appropriate for your condition.