Updated: Oct 10
There are myriad causes of hair fall, each requiring a different treatment regimen. The cause also determines the pattern of hair fall. While some forms of hair fall are temporary, where the hair may regrow with timely treatment, in some cases, the fall of hair can also be irreversible. In this blog, we will explore the most common form of hair fall, androgenic alopecia.
What is Androgenic Alopecia?
Androgenic alopecia (also known as androgenetic alopecia) is a form of hereditary hair fall. This pattern of hair fall is seen in both genders and is the most common cause of hair fall globally. It can either be male pattern baldness or female pattern baldness.
Androgenic Alopecia is caused by genes that are inherited from parents. There is progressive shrinking of the hair follicle with every subsequent hair cycle (3 years), ultimately resulting in hair growth arrest.
What is the First Sign of Androgenic Alopecia?
In men, the first sign of androgenic alopecia is receding of the hairline from the front or the appearance of a bald spot over the vertex (the top of the head)
In women, androgenic alopecia first manifests with a widening of the hair parting and an overall thinning of the hair shaft.
Is Androgenic Alopecia Reversible?
Yes, with the initiation of timely treatment, hair fall can be slowed down or stopped in the early stages of alopecia. In fact, the hair can also regrow. However, just like all good things that take time, patients need to have a good treatment compliance in order to experience any visible results.
What are the Treatment Options?
Minoxidil and Finasteride and the only two treatment options currently approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) for the management of androgenic alopecia.
Minoxidil is the most commonly used topical formulation for androgenic alopecia. Minoxidil stimulates the growth of hair by promoting healthy hair cycle and stimulating the flow of blood to the hair follicles and scalp. Market formulations between 2-10% lotion/spray/foam are available. For women 2% minoxidil and for men 5% minoxidil formulation is optimum. It takes 3 months to notice results, and often the results last for as long as the treatment is continued.
Finasteride is a prescription medication for androgenic alopecia which acts by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is responsible for the miniaturization of hair in androgenic alopecia. It is used both as an oral and a topical formulation (with minoxidil). However, one must always consult a licensed healthcare provider to assess the utility of this drug for their alopecia.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP), often referred to as the so-called 'liquid gold', is a promising therapy for hair fall. In PRP, the patient's own blood is centrifuged to obtain a concentrate of platelet and its growth factors which are then injected over the areas of baldness. Often the sessions are repeated every 1 to 3 months, and it can take 8-12 months for the therapy to show good results.
Adjuvants like Capexil and Procapil, amongst others, are often added to minoxidil lotion to increase its potency.
Vitamins and supplements like zinc, iron, calcium, vitamin D, and Biotin also have some efficacy in treating hair fall in patients with nutritional deficiency.
Healthy and balanced diet is also a good alternative to nutritional supplementation. Vitamin D and selenium the important promoters of hair growth. Fatty fishes like salmon and tuna are rich sources of vitamin D and selenium. Eggs are also an excellent source of biotin, protein, zinc and selenium which are essential nutrients for hair cycle. Other sources of hair-healthy nutrients are dark coloured fruits like berries and green leafy vegetables.
And, of course, another viable option could be getting a hair transplant. You can refer to this article to read the opinions of doctors on this.
Of course, if nothing else works out, you can always rely on hair styling tools to make your hair look more voluminous.
To sum it up, alopecia due to hereditary factors is very much treatable. However, it is essential to start the treatment in the early stages of androgenic alopecia to stop the progression of the disease. Take the first step towards a head full of hair and consult your dermatologist today!