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Hair Loss Prevention and Regrowth Treatments

Suffering From Hair Loss? Try These Treatments

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Our hair is a part of our identity, so it’s easy to understand how thinning hair and hair loss can be a source of stress. Hair loss is common, though, affecting millions of people, so you’re not the only one hoping for a way to return hair volume.

There are many causes of hair loss, including vitamin deficiency, genetic conditions, and illness, but there are also many treatments available to target these different causes.

In this article, we have compiled 6 of the most promising treatments for hair loss, along with the research to back them up. Let’s dive in.

Common Causes of Hair Loss

There are many different causes of hair loss, and they can affect whether your hair thins, falls out gradually or all at once, requires treatment, regrows on its own, or if it needs immediate interventions to avoid hair loss.

Age is one of the most universal causes of hair loss because our hair growth slows as we get older. With time, hair follicles may also stop growing hair, causing our hair to thin. However, catching this early can allow for treatment interventions that help with hair regrowth.

Genetics can also play into hair loss, with men and women both susceptible to male or female pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia). Those with this condition have genes that cause their hair follicles to shrink, cutting off their ability to grow hair. For men, this often presents as a bald spot at the crown of the head or a receding hairline; for women, it usually produces a widening part.

Another type of alopecia is alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks the hair follicles, leading to hair loss. This hair loss can be anywhere on the body, including the scalp, eyelashes, nose, ears, etc.

Other possible causes of hair loss include:

  • Illness
  • Significant life stress (e.g., from a divorce, losing a job, death in the family, etc.)
  • Medication side effects
  • Thyroid disease
  • Vitamin deficiencies

For all of these conditions, regrowth is possible. For some, such as thyroid disease or vitamin deficiencies, treating the condition can correct the problem causing hair loss, leading to hair regrowth. Others, such as an illness or stressful event, need only run their course, and then hair growth should return to normal.

Some causes of hair loss, though, may require more in regard to treatment. Hereditary and age-related hair loss, for instance, require a stimulation of the scalp to aid hair loss. Luckily, with so many treatment options available, you are more likely to find one that works best for your body and produces the best results. 

Treatments for Hair Loss

Treatments for hair loss have many different modalities—some block molecules that cause hair loss, while others stimulate the skin near follicles to attract growth factors. With the various mechanisms of action, one may work better for you than another, so if one is unsuccessful, don’t succumb to a life of hair loss; try something else.

In some cases, you may even find the best results when combining two treatments.

Minoxidil (Rogaine)

For those with male and female pattern hair loss (formally diagnosed as androgenic alopecia), minoxidil is the only FDA-approved treatment approved in both males and females.

As for how minoxidil aids hair growth, it’s less well-known. It may decrease inflammation by lowering inflammatory markers. Another possibility is that it improves microcirculation by opening potassium ion channels, increasing blood, nutrient, and oxygen transport to the areas where you apply minoxidil.

Minoxidil may not work for everyone, though. Only 40-60% of those who try minoxidil see hair growth. This is because minoxidil needs to come into contact with a certain skin enzyme to become active in the skin, and some people don’t have enough of this enzyme to see a response.

However, the results are promising for those who do respond to minoxidil. One study compared 2% and 5% minoxidil after one year and saw a 20% and 30% increase in hair weight.

Topical Dutasteride/Finasteride

Dutasteride and finasteride both block the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), the hormone responsible for male pattern hair loss. The difference between these two is that finasteride only reduces the impact of two enzymes responsible for converting testosterone to DHT, while dutasteride can inhibit all three.

Dutasteride has been shown to significantly improve hair growth over 90 days when combined with topical finasteride and minoxidil. Finasteride is also powerful: it stops AGA progression in 80-90% of men (demonstrating the importance of early interventions) and produces a 10% increase in hair count over two years.

These results come with some possible side effects, though, such as low sperm counts (making conception difficult), lowered libido, and brain fog. One way to minimize these side effects is by localizing the medication’s effects to the scalp. This can be accomplished by taking a topical version instead of an oral one. In fact, studies have shown that topical finasteride can reduce the risk of side effects by 30-90%.

Microneedling

Microneedling has gained tremendous popularity for those suffering from hair loss, and for a good reason, when research shows that microneedling can increase hair counts by 15%.

This simulation-based therapy for hair loss leverages the idea of wound healing and how, as the body heals, it sends growth factors. With microneedling, these minuscule wounds are made in balding scalp skin, where the body then sends growth factors. Over time, this may cause new blood vessels to form and promote hair follicle proliferation.

Beware, though, there is some pain associated with this treatment—you will be piercing the skin hundreds of times, even if the needles are small.

While microneedling alone shows promising results, they improve even more if microneedling is combined with another treatment. One study even saw a 400% increase in growth initiated by minoxidil when microneedling was used.

There are many needle lengths for microneedling, ranging from 0.25 to 2.5 mm, but we recommend the 1.5 mm length.

The smaller the needle, the quicker the healing and the more frequently you can microneedle. However, longer needles can penetrate through more layers of the scalp.  A 1.5 mm length needle is the lowest length that still penetrates the dermis and evokes growth factors for hair follicle proliferation. 1.5 mm is also the needle length most often cited in clinical trials, so it has the most research backing it up.

Scalp Massage

Scalp massage shows potential for improving hair growth in those with androgenic alopecia by up to 75% after eight months of effort. The results are impressive, but you must commit to a 4-20 minute daily process to achieve them, with longer daily massages typically producing better results.

As for how a scalp massage offers these results, researchers suspect that it stretches the cells of the hair follicles, stimulating them to produce thicker hair. It’s also possible that scalp massages dilate the blood vessels beneath the skin, encouraging hair growth.

For those whose fingers cannot handle 20 minutes of pressure application and the fine motor movements required to massage, a scalp massager can help you complete this daily task.

Red Light Laser Therapy

Red light laser therapy, sometimes called low-level laser therapy, is the therapeutic exposure to red or near-infrared radiation. There are different red light laser therapy methods, including personal laser helmets, in-office laser helmets, and laser combs.

How can light help with hair loss? Research has shown that the wavelengths achieved with red light can help encourage wound healing and, as a result, accelerate hair growth rates. It can even increase hair follicle proliferation.

Theories on how red light laser therapy produces these results can vary. Some theorize that the laser’s heat activates heat shock proteins used for hair growth. The light may also increase tissue oxygen levels, and since lower tissue oxygen levels have been observed in balding areas of the scalp, the ability to increase oxygen levels may make red light laser therapy a promising treatment.

Other possible actions include generating acute tissue inflammation (bringing along growth factors) and increasing blood flow (which brings more oxygen).

Vitamins

Research has documented many vitamin deficiencies as being related to hair loss, including:

  • Vitamin A, B6, C, and E
  • Folic acid
  • Biotin
  • Iron
  • Zinc

Vitamins are crucial for each stage of the hair growth cycle, and deficient vitamin levels can lead to slow growth, thinning, dull strands, or even excessive shedding.

While the best way to get these vitamins is through your diet, as it is the easiest for your body to absorb, that’s not always possible. If you cannot get these vitamins solely through your diet, try a supplement.

When you correct the vitamin deficiency, you may find that your hair growth reverses. Clinical trials have even seen improvements in hair density and other markers of health growth and health when replenishing vitamin deficiencies.

Prevent and Reverse Hair Loss

For those suffering from hair loss, many treatment options offer a future with a fuller scalp. From microneedling to topical hair growth creams, there is no shortage of options to try until you find the treatment (or treatment combination) that works best for you.

To browse all the hair loss treatments discussed above, check out What I Buy to help reverse hair loss.

References

Gupta, A. K., Talukder, M., & Williams, G. (2022). Comparison of oral minoxidil, finasteride, and dutasteride for treating androgenetic alopecia. The Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 33(7), 2946–2962.

Comparison of oral minoxidil, finasteride, and dutasteride for treating androgenetic alopecia. (2022). Journal of Dermatological Treatment. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/09546634.2022.2109567

Rafi, A. W., & Katz, R. M. (2011). Pilot Study of 15 Patients Receiving a New Treatment Regimen for Androgenic Alopecia: The Effects of Atopy on AGA. ISRN Dermatology (Print), 2011, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.5402/2011/241953

Kaiser, M., Abdin, R., Gaumond, S. I., Issa, N. T., & Jimenez, J. J. (2023). Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia: Current Guidance and Unmet Needs. Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, Volume 16, 1387–1406. https://doi.org/10.2147/ccid.s385861

GF Mazzarella, GF Loconsole, GA Cammisa, GM Mastrolonardo & Ga Vena (1997) Topical finasteride in the treatment of androgenic alopecia. Preliminary evaluations after a 16-month therapy course, Journal of Dermatological Treatment, 8:3, 189-192, DOI: 10.3109/09546639709160517

English, R. S., Ruiz, S., & DoAmaral, P. (2021). Microneedling and Its Use in Hair Loss Disorders: A Systematic Review. Dermatology and Therapy, 12(1), 41–60. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-021-00653-2

Goren, A., Shapiro, J., Roberts, J., McCoy, J., Desai, N., Zarrab, Z., Pietrzak, A., & Lotti, T. (2015). Clinical utility and validity of minoxidil response testing in androgenetic alopecia. Dermatologic therapy, 28(1), 13–16. https://doi.org/10.1111/dth.12164

Price, V. H., Menefee, E., & Strauss, P. C. (1999). Changes in hair weight and hair count in men with androgenetic alopecia, after application of 5% and 2% topical minoxidil, placebo, or no treatment. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 41(5 Pt 1), 717–721. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0190-9622(99)70006-x

Koyama, T., Kobayashi, K., Hama, T., Murakami, K., & Ogawa, R. (2016). Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue. Eplasty, 16, e8.

Giannakopoulos, E., Katopodi, A., Rallis, M., Politopoulos, K., & Alexandratou, E. (2022). The effects of low power laser light at 661 nm on wound healing in a scratch assay fibroblast model. Lasers in medical science, 38(1), 27. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10103-022-03670-5

Kato, H., Kinoshita, K., Saito, N., Kanayama, K., Mori, M., Asahi, N., Sunaga, A., Yoshizato, K., Itami, S., & Yoshimura, K. (2020). The Effects of Ischemia and Hyperoxygenation on Hair Growth and Cycle. Organogenesis, 16(3), 83–94. https://doi.org/10.1080/15476278.2020.1794271

Almohanna, H. M., Ahmed, A. A., Tsatalis, J. P., & Tosti, A. (2019). The Role of Vitamins and Minerals in Hair Loss: A Review. Dermatology and therapy, 9(1), 51–70. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6 Dhurat, R., Sukesh, M., Avhad, G., Dandale, A., Pal, A., & Pund, P. (2013). A randomized evaluator blinded study of effect of microneedling in androgenetic alopecia: a pilot study. International journal of trichology, 5(1), 6–11. https://doi.org/10.4103/0974-7753.114700

Author

  • Jessica Guht

    Jessica is a medical writer with an unquenched thirst to discover something new. She believes that medical content should be universally accessible and strives to write content that everyone, no matter their background, can understand. Credentials: - Masters of Engineering (ME) in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University - Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University

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Jessica Guht
Jessica is a medical writer with an unquenched thirst to discover something new. She believes that medical content should be universally accessible and strives to write content that everyone, no matter their background, can understand. Credentials: - Masters of Engineering (ME) in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University - Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biomedical Engineering from Rutgers University

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