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Thinning hair? Tips to prevent hair loss

A person's hair may become thinner as a natural part of ageing, or other reasons, including emotional shock, cancer treatment or another medical condition.

Most hair loss happens without other signs of illness. Seek medical advice if you have concerns.

Depending on the reason for the hair loss, treatment may be available, or some hair care tips may help.

Treatment for an underlying problem which may be causing hair loss may help, such as reducing stress.

Hair loss treatments and techniques

If hair loss has happened as a result of chemotherapy or radiotherapy for cancer, the effect is usually temporary, and wearing a wig may be recommended until their hair grows back.

Treatments are available for female-pattern baldness and male-pattern baldness. For male pattern baldness a doctor can issue a private prescription for the drug finasteride. This works by blocking hormones which shrink hair follicles.

Minoxidil lotion can help stop or slow balding and make hair thicker and is available over-the-counter from pharmacies. Minoxidil is available to treat both male and female pattern baldness and is currently the only drug for female-pattern baldness.

The Institute of Trichologists says to be cautious about products which look too good to be true. It says there is no clinical evidence that herbal pills help hair loss. It recommends seeking expert advice from a qualified trichologist.

Some people decide to opt for hair transplants to deal with receding hair lines. This can be expensive and the NHS recommends it should only be considered after other treatments have been tried. As well as using a person's hair from elsewhere on the body, artificial hair implants are available. Always check about the risks of such procedures, including scarring and infection.

If hair loss affects a certain part of the scalp, a procedure called scalp reduction may be used. It involves removing pieces of bald scalp to join up hairy areas.

Some hair loss, especially of the eyebrows, may be helped with a cosmetic tattoo, called dermatography.

Hair loss researchers are studying hair cell cloning as a new way to bring back hair for male and female-pattern baldness, though this is at an early stage.

Tips for thicker hair

Making hair thicker may help with thinning hair. There may be other things you can do to help, talk to your hair stylist or consider these tips:

  • Try colouring. Thinning hair may benefit from a different permanent or semi-permanent colour
  • Volumising and other products for thinning hair may offer a short-term improvement and can temporarily make your hair look thicker. Some spray-on products temporarily give a thicker appearance to the hair.
  • Find a style that suits fine hair. For example, adjust a parting to avoid bald patches. Consider a shorter cut. Longer hair weighs more and may leave more scalp exposed.

WebMD Medical Reference

Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks on January 23, 2017

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