Many patients believe that thinning hair is a part of life that cannot be treated. “It’s just something I’ll have to live with,” is a common refrain among men who begin to notice signs of hair loss. The biggest myth surrounding hair loss is that nothing can be done. However, this is not the case. Drs. Edmond Griffin and Ashley Curtis explain the truth behind this and some of the other big hair loss and hair restoration myths in this blog.
MYTH: Frequent use of hats or helmets cause or speed up hair loss.
TRUTH: This notion is merely folklore. Wearing a hat or helmet will not speed up or cause hair loss.
MYTH: Male pattern baldness is inherited from the maternal grandfather.
TRUTH: This is both true and false. Just like with any genetic trait, pattern baldness can be inherited from both the mother’s and the father’s side of the family. Though there are tests to determine the presence of the balding gene, these tests don’t confirm which side of the family gave you the gene or even whether the gene will be expressed in the future. Just because you have the gene doesn’t mean you’ll lose hair more than normal, though it does greatly increase your chances.
MYTH: Using conditioner can prevent baldness.
TRUTH: Because the hair is not a living structure, conditioners merely coat the dead hair shaft making it less prone to breakage. Conditioners have no influence on balding, though. If enough breakage occurs the hair looks thinner.
MYTH: Shampooing daily causes increased shedding.
TRUTH: In general, shampoos clean the hair and do not affect hair growth or loss. To some degree, daily shampooing has been found to show slightly less hair loss by total count than shampooing once weekly. Research shows that shampoos that contains anti-yeast medications seem to slow total monthly hair loss even more (example: Nizoral and DHS with Zinc).
MYTH: Undergoing hair transplant surgery means I no longer need to take preventative measures.
TRUTH: Transplanted hair comes from a donor area that is not affected by genetic hair loss symptoms. This means that it is not affected by the cause of pattern baldness (dihydrotestosterone) and remains in place permanently (pending other factors like chemotherapy and trauma) after transplantation. However, the hair in the balding area that was there before the transplant is still susceptible to pattern baldness. Therefore, preventative measures still need to be taken to maintain those follicles which were not transplanted and are genetically programmed to be lost at some time in the future.
Hair loss is a complicated condition. While pattern baldness is most often the cause of hair loss in men, there are many factors that could be the reason for your thinning. If you suspect your hair may be thinning, visit a dermatologist specializing in hair loss and restoration like those at The Griffin Center of Hair Restoration and Research to determine the cause of your hair loss. With a proper diagnosis, our providers can help you find the best methods of treatment for your situation.
An article published by Medical News Today highlighted the dangers that certain hairstyles can pose in women. Tight braids, corn rows, and weaves can bring on a condition called traction alopecia which results in permanent hair loss. This type of loss is usually seen around the frontal edges of the scalp and progresses further back with time. Central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia (CCCA) is a type of scarring alopecia that is found most often in black women and may be caused by the strenuous nature of these popular hairstyles on the scalp which required heat and chemicals to get the ultra-curly hair under control.
CCCA was first called “hot comb” alopecia in the 1950s when black women would straighten their hair by coating the shaft in petroleum jelly and then detangling and straightening the hair with an iron comb heated on the stove. The hot petroleum jelly was would travel down the hair shaft to the scalp often burning and damaging the follicles and causing permanent scarring. Frequently, straightening chemicals would also be added to this mix. Some evidence suggests that the hot oil and chemicals caused hair loss that could be progressive, resulting in a permanent loss of large amounts of hair.
In a study published in the Archives of Dermatology, over 300 African-American women completed questionnaires regarding their health and hair grooming methods and underwent scalp examinations. Of the women in the study, nearly 60% showed signs of hair loss. These women were more likely to wear hairstyles like tight braids and weaves and use hot combs, petrolatum, and chemicals that put stress on the hair and follicles.
Neil Sadick, MD, a clinical professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College believes that these types of hairstyles “can lead to excessive trauma to the hair shaft of predisposed individuals [and] interfere with hair integrity and are major culprits in causing this cosmetically debilitating scarring hair loss.”
As soon as you see signs of scarring or hair thinning, it’s important to seek the help of a dermatologist who specializes in hair restoration like Drs. Edmond Griffin and Ashley Curtis. Because this type of balding is progressive, the sooner patients seek treatment, the more likely the process can be stopped before severe damage has been done. The damage caused to the hair follicle by these hairstyles means that non-surgical options like topical and oral medications like Propecia® and Rogaine® are less likely to be effective in treating CCCA.
While this question is not a common one among The Griffin Center’s patients, it is a funny joke among spouses who sometimes get frustrated with each other. Surprisingly, though, the answer was yes for one woman. In a vignette published in a recent issue of the Archives of Dermatology, researchers discussed a case study of a 52-year old, post-menopausal Hispanic woman who reported the signs and symptoms of hair loss similar to those of male patterned baldness.
The patient had been experiencing hair loss in the frontotemporal region and crown of the head related to androgenetic alopecia for one year. After undergoing testing for hypoandrogenism and other endocrine disorders, dermatologists discovered the patient had abnormally high levels of testosterone. An investigation into the woman’s personal history found that her husband was applying topical testosterone gel daily for 18 months.
Dermatologists specializing in hair loss discovered that the female patient’s seemingly male patterned baldness was caused by her contact with her husband’s testosterone treatments. Testosterone gel can be transferred through contact with skin, clothing worn over the application area, and sheets or towels that have touched the application area. When an individual is exposed to a medication used by a spouse or close relative (like a child), it is called connubial exposure.
The patient was prescribed minoxidil solution to help regrow the lost hair, while her husband was directed to apply the testosterone gel to an area of the body covered by clothing to minimize the patient’s exposure. Some women who can no longer get pregnant may consider the use of finesteride.
The authors of the vignette believe that cases of connubial androgenetic alopecia in women most likely go underreported. Along the same lines, the authors emphasize the importance of a thorough medical history of not only the patient, but of the patient’s spouse and family members as well when pursuing hair restoration treatment.
At The Griffin Center for Hair Research and Restoration, we understand that the causes of hair loss in both men and women vary based on medical history, medical conditions, and many other factors. We strive to provide all our patients with accurate hair loss diagnoses so that we can effectively treat or reverse hair loss. Treatments for hair loss can vary from non-surgical options like applying Rogaine® to hair transplantation by microscope-assisted follicular grafting.
For more information on what can cause hair loss or to schedule a hair restoration consultation, contact our office. You can also “like” us on Facebook to keep up with the latest hair loss and hair care news.
For individuals suffering from patterned baldness, hair restoration surgery is a big decision. We encourage patients to thoroughly research hair replacement options after the cause of hair loss has been diagnosed by a hair loss specialist like Dr. Edmond Griffin. One part of the research process is looking at and comparing hair loss surgeons’ hair transplant before and after photos and patient testimonials. Patients who have undergone the procedure you’re researching have honest, real-life perspectives on hair restoration. Check out our video patient testimonial below.
Q: How would you describe your overall experience as compared to the other hair replacement surgeries?
A: You know, I went to one of those infomercial places, and that was my only regret. I would have spent less money and one less procedure if I had just started out here. The overall experience was that really even people that I work with didn’t seem to recognize that I had had anything done. So it was sort of seamless and invisible except for myself and my wife.
Latisse® is a popular treatment that is FDA approved to help users grow longer, darker, and thicker eyelashes. The treatment started off as a medicine for glaucoma when researchers noticed that their participants were also growing longer, more luxurious eyelashes during the testing process.
One doctor in Florida is now taking Latisse® from eyelash enhancer to hair restoration treatment. When one of his patients demonstrated an allergic reaction to the typical hair restoration medication Rogaine®, he suggested she use Latisse® to regrow thinning hair instead. Using a drop or two a day of Latisse® on the affected area along with a new daily vitamin regimen, the patient saw a reduction in the thinning of her hair in about four months.
However, there are definite disadvantages to using Latisse® for hair restoration including the high cost for an unproven treatment. While this one patient has benefited from the treatment, most scarring alopecias and those caused by immune problems most likely will not be improved.
Latisse® is not FDA approved for hair restoration on the scalp which means it hasn’t been tested in that area and any risks or potential long-term side effects haven’t been fully investigated. FDA approval for a new use of an already approved drug may take many years and cost millions. By the time it gets back to the patient, the price will surely be increased. For years this drug has been used in the eyes with a high degree of safety and no long term problems noted. On the skin some patients note a darkening and slight irritation when it is used on the upper eyelids.
When Latisse® is used to increase eyelash thickness and length, full results are often not seen until 16 weeks. It would not really stop the progression of hair loss for androgenetic alopecia patients, but possibly just lengthen and thicken the hairs like it does for the eyelids. Similarly, when used for eyelashes, results will gradually disappear if the treatment is stopped. The same can be assumed for the unapproved use of Latisse® as a hair restoration treatment. Once daily application is discontinued, the hair should eventually recede again leaving the user with the same thinning hair situation he or she started with.
Along the same lines, in order to maintain eyelashes grown by Latisse®, users must maintain a constant supply. While those using Latisse® for its FDA approved use for eyelashes may only need one bottle a month, those using it for hair restoration will need a much larger quantity given the size of the treatment area (3 or more of the 2-ounce bottles). With each prescription bottle of Latisse® costing an average of $100 to $150 a bottle, patients could easily spend upwards of $450 a month for as long as they want their hair restoration results to last. It seems like a high cost considering Latisse® does not promise to stop the progression of patterned baldness.
Currently FDA approved, topical and oral treatments like Rogaine®, Propecia®, and Proscar® are available to help slow and even stop hair loss; growing some hair back is also a possibility with some of these products. These products stop the progression of loss in over 80% of all patients who take/use them daily. If Latisse® does work, it would be applied in addition to the preventers of progression like Propecia®. Follicular unit hair transplant is a surgical procedure that produces permanent hair restoration results from hair loss as a result of hormones, trauma, androgenetic alopecia, and more. It’s important to remember that while off-label uses of products like Latisse® and Botox® do have potential, they also have potential for unexplored side effects until further studied.
For more information on the current list of FDA approved non-surgical and surgical hair restoration options, contact our office. We’re also on Facebook and Twitter with the latest news and update in hair restoration and research.