The first signs of hair loss aren't normally a cause for concern. But in a world where full, long hair is seen as a sign of good health, seeing your hair fall out can be depressing.
Who wouldn't be? Hair plays a big role in how we look and feel. It frames the face, boosts confidence, and makes us happier!
So it's natural to feel concerned or paranoid when you start experiencing hair loss. If you're sad as a result of hair loss, know that you are not alone.
Over 80 million Americans experience hair loss. It's so common that 25% of men will experience some form of hair loss by age 21. And it's not just men - 40% of American women experience hair loss by age 50.
Now how can you prevent hair loss?
To prevent hair loss, you need to know the first signs and then act quickly. The sooner you act to prevent hair loss, the more hair you’ll save.
Sadly, it’s not always easy to spot hair loss.
For starters, hair loss occurs gradually and may not be apparent at first. That’s why sufferers don’t notice the symptoms until they’ve lost almost half of their hair.
Also, with many myths about hair loss circling the internet, it’s easy to confuse hair shedding (caused by temporary changes in hormones) for hair loss (a condition that prevents the hair from growing). The good news is that you can identify and treat hair loss using some early warning signs.
What are the First Signs of Hair Loss?
A receding hairline is one of the first signs of hair loss. It happens when the front hair follicles thin out (miniaturize) and eventually stop growing. This causes the hairline to recede from the face. And since the hairline is a prominent place (unlike the nape of the neck), sufferers can detect the problem themselves.
But as you gradually lose hair from your temples, your hairline forms a characteristic "V" shape. As you lose more, the hairline eventually changes into an "M" shape.
You could, however, have a receding hairline without even being aware! Hair loss happens slowly. So slow that you may not see daily changes in your hairline when you look in the mirror.
To know if you have a receding hairline, take pictures of your hair's front, side, and top areas a few months apart and compare.
Make sure the different images have the same lighting as lighting can affect the appearance of hair loss. If your hairline looks dramatically different in the photographs, you are probably losing hair.
Some men experience diffuse thinning, which affects the whole scalp or certain areas like the crown. This type of hair loss causes baldness to set in at the top or back of the head rather than the hairline.
But hair thinning in females is different. In this case, the frontal hairline stays the same, asides from normal hair recession. Also, hair thinning hardly advances to complete baldness, as it does in men.
Like receding hairline, the quickest way to detect hair thinning is go by comparing photographs from different periods. If your hair appears thinner than it did in the old images, there’s a chance that it’s the result of hair loss.
Also, the best way to compare your hair’s thickness level is to take pictures every three months. If you observe any sign of hair loss at the crown, take action immediately to avoid further loss.
Hair in the shower
Hair loss is a part of everyday life. In fact, people lose approximately 50 to 100 hairs a day. So don't panic if you see 5 or 6 strands of hair in your hands after shampooing. However, if you notice more than 100 stands after showering, you're probably losing hair faster than normal.
Note: unexpected hair loss does happen, which is often caused by drugs, high fevers, or psychological stress.
Fortunately, it is usually temporary and can last for about three months, on average. But make sure you speak with a specialist if your hair doesn't grow back. After all, it only takes a small amount of hair loss a day to turn into a visible balding crown or receding hairline.
Widening hair part
Remember when you would brush and part your thick, lustrous hair without seeing your scalp? If you’ve looked in the mirror recently and noticed a wider part, then you are probably losing hair.
A widening part is one of the first signs of hair loss. This happens when hair follicles enter a prolonged resting phase or stop being active.
Women may also notice reduced density, finer hairs, or thinner ponytails. In addition, a wider part can also result from androgenic alopecia, diffuse alopecia, or thyroid issues. All these can cause hair loss in the frontal edge, making your part look wider.
There are great treatments to slow this process. So make sure you consult your doctor for the right treatment plan.
Slow hair growth
Have you ever felt like your hair won’t just grow? Like you can’t seem to add more inches no matter what you do? Chances are you’re losing hair and don’t even know it.
A slow hair growth cycle is also one of the first signs of hair loss. Now, the average hair growth cycle lasts about 3 to 5 years, after which the hairs fall out, and a new growth cycle begins.
That means that the longest your hair can grow solely depends on the length of your growth cycle and how fast your hair grows. So if you decided to grow your hair out but no longer get the same Rapunzel-like locks you once did, you may be experiencing excessive hair loss.
Most people lose eyebrow hair because they over-pluck and tweeze too much. This causes trauma, inflames the hair follicle, and slows hair growth.
But if you don't pluck your eyebrows and you're still losing eyebrow hair, you may have alopecia areata. Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that usually results in unexpected, patchy hair loss.
If you notice abrupt and pronounced non-scalp hair loss, consult your doctor to ascertain the cause. The sooner you know why, the sooner you can devise a treatment plan.
The abrupt development of bald spots (round hairless patches) on the scalp, beard, or eyebrow can indicate that you are losing hair. Sometimes, the patches grow into one huge bald area.
Although these bald spots go away on their own after a little while, it can take years for some individuals. If you see a well-demarcated hairless patch on your scalp, speak with a doctor to devise a treatment plan.
Although sunburn on the scalp is not a typical sign of hair loss, it does occur. Once you start losing hair, your scalp will become more prone to sunburn.
This is because thick hair protects the scalp from UV rays. So if your scalp is increasingly sensitive to sun rays, you may be losing more hair than normal.
What Causes the First Signs of Hair Loss?
When it comes to hair loss, there are so many possible triggers, making it difficult to identify the actual cause and how to treat it.
Some causes, such as hereditary hair loss, are absolutely out of your control. Temporary hair loss, on the other hand, can be controlled or reversed if found early.
If your hair is thinning, falling out more frequently, or growing more slowly than usual, any of these could be the cause:
Some medications such as blood thinners, drugs for depression, oral contraceptives, and NSAIDs can all cause hair loss.
Vitamin A and retinoids can also induce hair loss. Certain chemotherapy medications cause total hair loss, too, as they kill cancer cells. As usual, hair regrows after chemo. So your hair should also bounce back once you stop taking any drug that causes hair loss.
Physical stress can disrupt your hair growth cycle, causing your hair to thin and fall out. This hair loss often goes unnoticed for weeks or months after the strenuous or traumatic event.
But once it begins, you will see clumps of hair when you brush, shampoo, or touch your hair. Sadly, patients can have a hard time with this hair loss, but as painful as it is, it's not permanent.
An iron deficiency is one of the most common causes of hair loss. Without iron, your body won't produce enough hair cell protein to protect your strands. However, it's best to speak with a doctor if in doubt. Your doctor may recommend a blood test to determine the proper course of action.
You may have traction alopecia if you're losing hair slowly around your frontal hairline and temples. This often happens when you wear extremely tight braids or hairdos that pull the frontal hairline.
With time, your hair follicles will give up. And if it's not treated right away, it can progress and become permanent. However, many still wear tight braids for years without losing hair. Some hair can't withstand that stress.
Thyroid problems (under-active or overactive) can cause diffuse thinning and eventual hair loss if it is not resolved. Dermatologists may perform a blood test to check your thyroid function.
Asides from hair loss, weight changes, exhaustion, and mood changes are also linked with thyroid disorders. So undiagnosed patients may want to mention these symptoms to their doctor.
Over-processing your hair
Frequent use of harsh chemicals or straightening products can damage your hair follicles and cause permanent hair loss. As you over process, your hair will keep looking thinner, which may be particularly visible on the scalp. You can avoid future damage by staying away from harsh procedures and using products that help nourish and heal your hair.
Other causes include:
- Alopecia areata
- Excessive shampooing or blow-drying
- Hormone changes
- Tinea capitis
- Tumor of the ovary or adrenal glands
- Scalp infections
- Radiation therapy
- Infectious diseases such as syphilis
How to Treat the First Signs of Hair Loss
So now you know why you are losing hair; what should you do if you see one or more of these first signs of hair loss?
First off, take a deep breath and relax. Losing hair isn't the end of the world because effective remedies exist!
We strongly advise against trying the many hair loss pills, creams, or potions sold online. Few are substantiated by reliable clinical research, and even fewer actually deliver reliable results.
Change your diet
A protein-rich diet is necessary for healthy hair, so add at least a palm-sized amount of protein at breakfast and lunch. Complex carbohydrates also give our hair the energy it needs to grow.
Snack on healthy carbs if it's been more than four hours since your last meal. That's because the amount of energy required for hair cells to grow decreases at this point. Nevertheless, changing your diet won't help if the hair loss is caused by stress or an illness.
Since hair is a non-essential tissue, it has unique nutritional needs. Taking supplements can help fortify your hair follicles with vitamins and minerals. But to get the most out of them, you must take them with a healthy diet.
Watch out for these key ingredients: Selenium, Vitamin D3, Zinc, Vitamin C, L-Methionine, L-Lysine, and copper.
Try head massage
To encourage scalp health, use hair oils to massage your scalp. Hair massage helps increase blood flow and strengthen hair from the roots. It is highly beneficial for those who deal with hair loss and breakage.
In addition, applying Ayurvedic oils to dry hair as a pre-wash treatment causes the hair shaft to absorb the oil, making it less prone to breakage when wet.
Try topical treatments
Speak with a dermatologist if you think your hair isn't growing properly or fast enough. Your dermatologist will recommend topical solutions such as minoxidil. Minoxidil has been used for a long time to help stop hair loss and stimulate hair growth.
Perhaps, the hair growth occurs because minoxidil dilates the scalp's blood vessels, allowing more blood to reach the hair follicles.
It is also thought to increase shrunken hair follicles caused by hormonal changes. Regardless, it doesn't matter how minoxidil works. One thing is sure: minoxidil can help people suffering from hair loss.
But if you don't see results after 6 months, visit your dermatologist for other prescription options, such as:
- Spironolactone: Spironolactone is a blood pressure medication used off-label to treat acne in women. But it may help promote hair growth over time.
- Finasteride: Finasteride is one of the most common hair loss treatments available. When used properly, finasteride gives results that look natural without alternatives like surgery.
- PRP therapy: PRP therapy (platelet-rich plasma therapy) is a treatment where a doctor collects your blood, separates the plasma, and then injects it into your scalp to promote follicles activity. According to a study, six out of ten patients who underwent PRP treatments reported visible hair growth within a week, while the other four saw hair growth after 15 days.
Consider hair transplant
Got more significant hair loss? A hair transplant might just be what you need. The procedure involves moving hairs from areas of the scalp with active hairs (often from the sides or back of the head) onto areas with no hair.
Depending on the size or type of transplant, the process can take roughly 4 to 8 hours. But you may need to undergo another procedure if your hair loss persists.
No one likes the look of thinning hair, bald spots or receding hairline. But the truth is many people will experience these first signs of hair loss at some point. Take comfort in knowing that there are effective remedies out there. And the sooner you act, the more options you will have.
Hairmd's hair loss treatments are effective, safe, and have helped many Americans find new confidence. It's never too late to take a step towards fuller, healthier-looking hair. Request a consultation today, and we'll recommend the best treatment for you.