There are not many feelings worse than realizing you are starting to lose your hair. It can be extremely stressful, anxiety evoking, saddening, and more, it is a very emotionally overwhelming experience.
Unfortunately, sometimes people are so overwhelmed that they might not be making the most rational decisions. This is totally understandable, but what these newcomers to hair loss may not realize is that the decisions that you make early on are extremely important and need to be well thought out and planned, not impulsive.
I want to help newcomers avoid some of the mistakes I, and countless others have made when first dealing with hair loss. This article is essentially going to be a guide for someone who is new to hair loss. I will detail every process that you should go through in order to avoid making emotionally-driven decisions that could cost you more hair.
These are the steps that someone who is new to experiencing hair loss should take.
See a doctor
Seems obvious, right?
As you get further along in the hair loss process and learn more about it you will be able to make well-informed decisions, but at the beginning, there is a good chance (unless you happen to be a trichologist) that you don’t know much about the different types of hair loss and what to look for. This is why you should go see a doctor.
There are many different types of hair loss from stress-induced hair loss, androgenic alopecia, alopecia areata, and more, all of which require different treatment methods. One of the worst things that you can do, especially if you have pattern hair loss, is misdiagnose yourself and use treatments that will not be effective.
Not only will this cost you hair that you may not be able to regrow later, but there could also be adverse side effects from the treatments that you use, all of which your doctor will be able to tell you about and make sure you will not have a reaction.
Go to a professional, get a diagnosis, and go from there.
Use a DHT blocker
(Note: for the rest of the article we are going to be talking about what you should do if you have androgenic alopecia. There are different steps you will need to take if you are diagnosed with a different hair loss condition)
If your doctor diagnoses you with androgenic alopecia (AGA; pattern hair loss) they are more than likely going to recommend finasteride. Finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor that works to block DHT, and is the only FDA approved treatment for doing so.
Blocking DHT is extremely important to address for someone who is experiencing AGA. This is because DHT is the androgen that binds to receptors in the hair follicles and causes the process of miniaturization to occur.
In short, miniaturization is a process in which the growth phase of the hair cycle gets progressively shorter until the hair doesn’t grow anymore, eventually causing baldness. By blocking DHT you will be preventing miniaturization from occurring and slowing and/or eventually stopping hair loss from progressing.
Whether you choose to use finasteride or not is up to you, there are side effects that may occur and it is certainly not for everybody. Luckily, there are several DHT blockers that you can take if finasteride doesn’t work such as dutasteride and other natural DHT blockers.
Regardless of which treatment ends up working for you, make sure you wait at least 6 months to determine if you are responding well to the treatment or not. It can take this long (and sometimes longer) because the nature of the hair cycle is very slow and it can take a long time for healthy hairs to replace those that were dying.
Next focus on regrowth
After you have ensured that you have DHT, the most important component of overcoming hair loss, addressed, you can start focusing on regrowth (although you can start using the treatments we are about to talk about at the same time you start finasteride).
The main component of regrowing hair is increasing blood flow.
Blood carries vital oxygen and nutrients to the hair, and in people that are suffering from AGA, the blood flow is typically lower (in areas that are sensitive; temples and crown in men and part line in women).
There are many treatment options available for increasing blood flow such as minoxidil, low-level laser therapy, scalp massages, and more. Although these treatments and more have been shown to be effective, they are not full proof, in fact most only work in about 50-60% of users. This is why it is best, if possible, to utilize several blood flow-enhancing treatments at the same time. A mistake many people commonly make is using only one treatment, this significantly decreases the chances of effectively increasing blood flow versus using a combination of treatments.
Again, improving blood flow is the number one proven way to help regrow hair, so you are going to want to do anything and everything you can and attack it from multiple angles with several treatments.
That’s it… for now
Blocking DHT and improving blood flow are the two most important aspects of overcoming hair loss, anything else is, for the most part, does not have scientifically sound evidence saying that it will help hair loss.
Remember that stopping and reversing hair loss takes time. My suggestion: try a combination of treatments for at least 6 months, if you are seeing results keep using them, if not try alternatives and repeat this process until you find a regimen that works for you.