The Three Worst Hair Problems: Solved!
If your biggest hair problem is split ends, go get a good haircut and be thankful. The worst three hair problems afflicting as much as a quarter of the population are so severe they can impact a person's self-esteem. This goes way beyond a good conditioner.
But there is good news. A trip to the dermatologist--not the hair salon--is the cure.
Hair Problem No. 1: Androgenetic alopecia. You know this as pattern hair loss. For men, it's seen in a receding hairline. For women, it's thinning on the top of the head. Men have a 50 percent chance of experiencing pattern hair loss by the time they turn 50, reports HealthCentral. Fully 25 percent of pre-menopausal women and 38 percent of post-menopausal women suffer from androgenetic alopecia, which is heredity. This type of hair loss is characterized by a progressive miniaturization of hair follicles, which in turn causes the hair's growth cycle to be shortened. As the growth phase shortens, the hair becomes thinner and shorter, to the point where there is no growth at all, reports HealthCentral.
The Fix: There is no cure. Since hereditary hair loss is gradual, prescription treatment should begin at the first sign for best results. An over-the-counter topical solution, such as minoxidil, works on the hair follicles to both reverse the shrinking process and stimulate new growth on the top of the scalp. It must be used indefinitely. This is the only FDA-approved treatment for women. Men also have the option of Finasteride, a pill taken orally. It, too, must be taken indefinitely to be effective.
Hair Problem No. 2: Alopecia areata. This autoimmune condition results in a complete loss of patches of hair on various parts of the body, including the eyebrows, eyelashes, beard, moustache, pubic hair, and sometimes the scalp. It affects 2 percent of the U.S. population and typically begins before age 20. The cause is unknown, and there is no cure.
The Fix: Because the hair follicles remain alive, some people spontaneously re-grow hair within a year without treatment. Depending on the severity of hair loss, treatment can include a monthly cortisone injection into the patches of bare skin. HealthCentral notes that topical minoxidil may also re-grow hair on the scalp, eyebrows, and beard. More severe cases may require cortisone pills.
Hair Problem No. 3: Hirsutism. Affecting only women, this condition is characterized by excessive growth of hair on the face and body. One in 20 women suffer from this with male-like patterns of hair on the upper lip and chin, as well as the arms, legs, chest, and groin area. It may be caused by unusually high levels of the male hormone androgen in the blood.
The Fix: Hirsutism can be treated medically with birth control pills, hormonal suppression, and androgen blockade. The topical prescription cream eflornithine may be used to inhibit the growth of facial hair. Old-fashioned cosmetic treatments also work, including bleaching creams, waxing, plucking, electrolysis, and laser hair removal.