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Hair loss: Tips for managing


Taking a supplement to regrow your hair may seem like an easy solution; however, getting too much of certain nutrients can worsen hair loss.

woman looking at pill

When faced with hair loss, many people aren’t sure where to turn for help. They often:

  • Try to hide the problem by changing their part or hairstyle

  • Buy products that come with claims that they can restore hair

  • Take vitamins and other supplements sold specifically for hair growth

Some women scale back on how often they shampoo.

The results from these efforts are often modest at best and rarely get to the root of the problem. If you’re losing your hair, here’s what the experts recommend.

  1. Make an appointment to see a board-certified dermatologist. Hair loss has so many causes. The sooner you find the cause, the better your chance of getting results you want.

    A dermatologist is a doctor who is trained to diagnose conditions that affect our skin, hair, and nails. They can get to the root of the problem, and in many cases, successfully treat hair loss.

    You can find a dermatologist who can help you by going to: Find a dermatologist.

  2. Wash and condition your hair without traumatizing it. Hair that’s thinning or falling out is fragile and easily damaged. Here’s what dermatologists recommend for their patients who have hair loss:

    • Use a gentle shampoo. Some shampoos can strip moisture from your hair.

    • Apply a moisturizing conditioner after every shampoo. Conditioner coats your strands, which reduces breakage and split ends.

    • Make use of a leave-in conditioner or detangler. Applying this every time after you wash and condition your hair helps to reduce breakage, split ends, and frizz.

    • Wrap your hair in a microfiber towel to help it dry more quickly.This helps reduce the time you spend blow-drying.

  3. Forgo hot-oil treatments. These heat up the hair, which further damages fragile hair.
  4. Stop at-home coloring, perming, chemical straightening, and relaxing. If you want to use these, find a salon that specializes in the service you want and has professionals who know how to examine your scalp and hair in order to find the product most suitable for you. Make sure the salon uses a moisturizing conditioner afterward.
  5. Limit your use of curling irons, flat irons, and hot combs, using one only on a special occasion, such as a wedding or job interview. These heat up your hair, which can weaken it.
  6. Use the lowest heat setting on your blow-dryer. When possible, let your hair dry naturally rather than using a blow-dryer. To repeat, wrapping wet hair in a microfiber towel can help dry your hair more quickly.
  7. Stop wearing your hair tightly pulled back in a bun, ponytail, pigtails, cornrows, or braids. Frequently wearing a hairstyle that pulls on your hair can cause a type of hair loss called traction alopecia. In time, anything that pulls on your hair can cause permanent hair loss. You'll find styling changes that can help you prevent this type of hair loss at Hairstyles that pull can lead to hair loss.
  8. If you have a habit of twisting your hair around your finger or pulling on it, try to stop. These habits can further weaken already fragile hair, causing more hair loss.
  9. Brush or comb your hair gently, and only enough to style it. Tugging on your hair while brushing or combing it can lead to hair loss.
  10. If you smoke, stop. Smoking causes inflammation throughout the body, which can worsen hair loss.
  11. Eat healthy. If you’re not getting enough of some nutrients, such as iron or protein, this can lead to hair loss.
  12. Eating too few calories every day can also cause significant hair loss.
  13. Here’s what you can do to eat healthy: Healthy Eating Plan

  14. Before taking a supplement to grow your hair, find out whether you’re getting enough of certain vitamins or minerals. A blood test can tell you whether you’re not getting enough of certain nutrients.

    It’s important to understand that the supplements you see advertised for hair growth are not regulated. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate dietary supplements for safety and effectiveness before they are sold. That responsibility lies with the company manufacturing the product.

    If you decide to try supplements, understand that they can do more harm than good. Getting too much of certain nutrients (including selenium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin E) has been linked to hair loss.

By seeing a board-certified dermatologist, you can learn inside secrets tailored to your individual needs that can help you with hair loss.

Getty Images

American Academy of Dermatology. “Dermatologists can help women win the fight against common forms of hair loss.” News release issued March 4, 2010. Last accessed May 23, 2019.

Guo EL, Katta R. “Diet and hair loss: Effects of nutrient deficiency and supplement use.” Dermatol Pract Concept. 2017; 7:1-10.

Kunin A. “Hair loss.” In: Kunin A, The DERMAdoctor Skinstruction Manual. Simon & Schuster. USA. 2005:123-131.

Sperling LC. “Alopecias.” In: Bolognia JL, et al. Dermatology. (second edition). Mosby Elsevier, Spain, 2008: 987-1004.