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Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent hereditary hair loss from worsening and regrow hair, says board-certified dermatologist.
VANCOUVER, BC. (July 21, 2022) — Hereditary hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia or pattern hair loss, is the most common form of hair loss in both men and women, affecting millions of people worldwide. Early diagnosis and treatment by a board-certified dermatologist are important steps in preventing hereditary hair loss from worsening and helping people regrow their hair.
“There are many treatment options for hereditary hair loss to consider, and it is often difficult to sift through the mountain of information and disinformation on the internet and from well-meaning advice-givers,” said board-certified dermatologist Paradi Mirmirani, MD, FAAD. “It is important for patients to know that they can get individualized, evidence-based recommendations from a board-certified dermatologist.”
Hereditary hair loss is a genetic condition that can be inherited from the mother’s, father’s or both sides of the family. Early diagnosis and treatment can help keep the hair follicle from shrinking. Studies show that once a follicle has shrunk, it is increasingly difficult to grow back the hair and restoration may be limited.
“While hereditary thinning occurs in a specific pattern, this pattern is more distinctive and more recognizable in men,” said Dr. Mirmirani. “The color of an individual’s hair and scalp, their hair length, and their hair type will significantly affect the appearance of hair thinning or scalp coverage.”
For men, hair loss happens symmetrically in one or more of the following areas: the hairline, the top of the scalp, and/or the crown. In women, the thinning occurs symmetrically on top of the scalp, but the loss is more widespread, and the front hairline typically does not recede.
Hereditary hair loss cannot be prevented, but there are medical treatments that can maintain, improve, and optimize hair growth, such as minoxidil, finasteride, and spironolactone.
Topical minoxidil is FDA-approved for hair loss in men and women. It has been shown to reduce hair loss, stimulate hair growth, and strengthen existing strands of hair. Dr. Mirmirani said she typically prescribes patients topical minoxidil for four to six months to determine how effective it will be. If the patient finds that topical minoxidil is not improving their condition, she may prescribe oral minoxidil.
“Low dose oral minoxidil is another treatment option for hereditary hair loss,” said Dr. Mirmirani. “While this medication has been available for some time, it is being used more commonly and is an option for many of my patients, who have said that it is convenient and easy to use.”
Oral finasteride tends to be most effective if you begin taking it when you first notice hair loss, according to Dr. Mirmirani. Though finasteride is prescribed primarily in men, it may be prescribed for women. Patients who may become pregnant should not take or handle finasteride because it can cause birth defects.
As with all treatments for this type of hair loss, people who take finasteride or minoxidil will need to continue taking it to achieve and maintain results.
Oral spironolactone is a prescription medication that women can take to prevent further hair loss and increase hair thickness. Studies show that it is effective in about 40% of women who have female pattern hair loss.
People who suffer from hereditary hair loss also have other options, such as scalp covers or scalp hair fibers, which conceal the appearance of thinning. Scalp micropigmentation, a non-surgical procedure in which tattooing is used to create the look of hair, is another option. Surgical options are also available for the treatment of hair loss.
Obesity and smoking can also contribute to hair thinning, so lifestyle changes may help reduce thinning, said Dr. Mirmirani. Dermatologists warn that people should only use supplemental vitamins if they have a deficiency.
“It is important that patients receive the correct diagnosis and treatment as early as possible when treatment can be most effective,” said Dr. Mirmirani. “With new medications becoming available each year, a board-certified dermatologist can recommend treatment options that work best for each individual.”
To find a board-certified dermatologist in your area, visit aad.org/findaderm.
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About the AAD
Headquartered in Rosemont, Ill., the American Academy of Dermatology, founded in 1938, is the largest, most influential, and most representative of all dermatologic associations. With a membership of more than 20,000 physicians worldwide, the AAD is committed to: advancing the diagnosis and medical, surgical and cosmetic treatment of the skin, hair and nails; advocating high standards in clinical practice, education, and research in dermatology; and supporting and enhancing patient care for a lifetime of healthier skin, hair and nails. For more information, contact the AAD at (888) 462-DERM (3376) or aad.org. Follow the AAD on Facebook (American Academy of Dermatology), Twitter (@AADskin), Instagram (@AADskin1), or YouTube (AcademyofDermatology).
Editor’s note: The AAD does not promote or endorse any products or services. This content is intended as editorial content and should not be embedded with any paid, sponsored or advertorial content as it could be perceived as an AAD endorsement.