A Griffin Center Series: Myths and Truths about Hair Loss Part III: Do over-the-counter, topical hair loss products really work?
There is a huge market for over –the–counter topical medications that claim to be the miracle solution to hair re-growth. But do these hair restoration products really work? The best answer I can give to this question is that “other products work better.”
The majority of these hair tonics, shampoos, and lotions available in drug stores prove to be ineffective. In fact, the only proven effective topical drug on the market is Rogaine® (5% Minoxidil), which has actually worked in some cases to restore hair. However, these results were almost always seen in patients that are just starting to lose their hair, and work better to slow down hair loss instead of re-growing more hair. There are also other effective topical prescription compounds for hairloss such as Rogaine 5% mixed with Retin-A that may be prescribed by Dr. Griffin. It is important to note, that restoring hair, especially through topical medications, is a very gradual process – taking anywhere from 6 months to a year of daily application.
Non-topical medications, such as Propecia ® and Avodart®, can be a more effective medical solution for hair re-growth. The oral medication Propecia ® contains Finasteride, which is actually FDA approved for the treatment of male pattern baldness. Propecia ® and oral medications like it have shown better results however, in conjunction with topical products, like Rogaine®, that containMinoxidil (namely the 5% Extra Strength formula). Avodart® is usually only prescribed for patients who have not had favorable results with Finasteride. Additionally, your doctor may choose to increase your Finestride dose from the typical 1mg to 2.5mg (for women who cannot become pregnant and men) if favorable results aren’t obtained in a timely manner.
While over-the-counter options continue to evolve, and may seem like the easy fix, it’s important to note that the best hair restoration results are obtained through a customized treatment plan along with a proper evaluation by a certified professional.
Researchers Make New Discovery About Graying Hair – Though Claim that Heredity is Still the Root Cause
A recent article in the NY Times detailed a new study about graying hair – linking the presence of gray hair to the natural build up of hydrogen peroxide in hair cells. Especially after the recent media speculation linking Obama’s new gray hairs with his stress level as president, many people still believe that gray hairs are directly linked with stress, when in fact this has not been proven. A new study however, may bring scientists closer to unlocking the real relationship between stress and more “salt and pepper’ color to people’s hair.
While studying the genetic defect vitiligo (a condition marked by patches of bleached skin that lack pigment), European scientists noticed that bleached skin was essentially caused by elevated levels of hydrogen peroxide in the skin that was negatively affecting and blocking the enzyme catalase. The scientists began to wonder if the same was true of graying hair. It was found that the natural build up of hydrogen peroxide in hair cells can similarly work to block pigment (melanin) in the hair – ultimately bleaching it and turning it gray or white.
Scientists are hopeful that this may help explain the link between gray hair and stress, but they are careful to note that heredity is still the number one influencing factor in graying. They are also careful to note that, while gray hair may make people look older, there is no link whatsoever to graying and premature aging.
For more information on hair, hair restoration, and/or hair loss contact Dr. Edmond Griffin of the Griffin Center of Hair Restoration & Research.
With warmer weather comes less clothing, and often a desire to have less body hair. But one place we don’t typically want to decrease the amount of hair is on our heads. While direct seasonal influences on normal amounts of hair loss are still being studied, it’s relatively common for individuals to report increased shedding starting in the spring and peaking in the fall.
While scientists have not been able to pin point direct environmental causes that lead to increased hair-loss beginning in the spring, many speculate that exposure to sunlight is directly related. As we know from research findings regarding Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), the amount of sunlight we’re exposed to during the day can directly affect hormone levels and emotions. Findings from experimental studies suggest that hair-loss might be controlled by limiting amounts of direct sun exposure, thus changing the melatonin secretion rate and its effects on the hormone receptors located in the scalp. Probably a wise decision as over-exposure to Ultraviolet light can have less than favorable dermatological effects.
One thing that is scientifically known is that shedding hair is a completely normal part of the hair growth cycle. The hair growth cycle is composed of three phases: anagan (growth phase), catagen (degradation phase), and telogen (resting phase.) Normally, individuals shed anywhere from 50-150 strands of hair on a daily basis. The rate of seasonal hair loss varies greatly from person to person, but like hair loss during any other part of the year can usually be minimized by maintaining a proper diet, not smoking, avoiding harsh chemical hair treatments, and seeking medical attention for any known hormonal imbalances.
There are several inevitable things in life, wrinkling is one of them. A natural part of the aging process, wrinkles are lines of varying depth that develop most commonly on the face, backs of hands, and the forearms of most mature adults.
Believe it or not hair loss affects wrinkling and aging in addition to a variety of other factors like exposure to Ultraviolet light and whether or not an individual is a smoker, as well as, genetic factors like skin pigmentation and family history of wrinkling.
It might be strange to think of wrinkling in terms of the amount of hair you have – but there is a definite connection. Just like protective clothing, hair can protect areas of the head and neck from sun damage. Those who often wear longer hair styles or styles with bangs tend to develop fewer wrinkles because these styles shield the wrinkle-susceptible skin on the back of the neck and on the forehead from direct exposure to the damaging Ultraviolet rays from the sun. Once the hair begins to thin, the development of skin cancers and precancers begin to rise in number.
Both skin and hair are elements of the human body’s integumentary system. Designed to protect the internal body systems from trauma, regulate temperature, and receive and send sensations to the nervous system – the integumentary system is the body’s first line of defense from outside damage. It makes sense then that the individual elements of the system would serve to protect each other. Thus, an individual experiencing hair loss will probably start to notice wrinkling sooner as the sensitive skin covering their head, face, and neck (normally shielded by hair) is more exposed. He/she should also become more vigilant about the early development of skin cancers.
Even though it provides some protection, it is important to note that hair cannot and should not serve as your only line of defense from sun; thus you should always practice safe sun exposure.
If you are concerned about your hair loss, you may consider hair restoration therapy to slow, prevent, and in some cases, even reverse the symptoms of the conditions. If you have questions about hair-loss or hair restoration, visit our website or call our office (404)256-4369 to set up a consultation.
If you are familiar with CNN, you are familiar with their “Health Minute” segment, a 60-second long televised segment highlighting an important health issue of the day. This week’s segment was titled, “Treating Women’s Hair Loss.” When looking for a renowned hair loss specialist to provide information on the topic, CNN turned to Dr. Griffin, founder of The Griffin Center for Hair Loss and Restoration and Dermatology Associates of Atlanta.
The segment featured a patient of Dr. Griffin’s, Judy Butler, a real estate broker that was troubled by her excessive hair loss. Concerned about her appearance and frustrated with her progressive hair thinning, Butler even considered scalp prosthesis before she decided to consult with Dr. Griffin.
“What might be very acceptable to men – not acceptable to women,” said Dr. Griffin, when reflecting on Judy’s situation. “Even a slight amount of loss is not acceptable.”
Dr. Griffin says that many women experience hair loss before menopause, but when that hair loss becomes excessive; it is considered a medical condition, known as alopecia. While the root cause of women’s hair loss is often genetic, it can be caused by many factors including a thyroid problem, anemia, reaction to medications, or an autoimmune problem that often requires blood tests or biopsies to diagnose. According to Dr. Griffin, for each cause of hair loss, there is a different treatment approach that can include everything from oral medications, topical creams, and surgery involving follicular grafting techniques.
For Judy, the recommended treatment was oral medications and topical creams; and she is thankfully experiencing hair growth. However, as the CNN video states, each patient has to be individual diagnosed in order to recommend a treatment plan. If you are a woman experiencing hair loss, contact The Griffin Center to schedule a consultation with Dr. Griffin and discover the best treatment option for you.
Click here to view CNN Health Minute: