Bald spots or thinning hair on your scalp can make you self-conscious about your appearance. While hair transplantation can be an effective method of restoring hair, other hair restoration options exist for people who do not want to undergo surgery. Your doctor can help you determine which non-surgical hair restoration method is appropriate for you.
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The most common type of hair loss occurs due to androgenetic alopecia, a condition that affects approximately one-third of men and women, according to MayoClinic.com. Also called male or female pattern baldness, androgenetic alopecia causes a receding hairline and baldness at the crown in men and thinning hair in women. Other causes of long-term hair loss include scarring of the scalp due to illness or injury and alopecia areata, an autoimmune system disorder that causes round bald spots on the scalp. Hair restoration techniques may be helpful in regrowing hair or disguising bald spots if hair loss is due to one of these conditions.
Medication for Men
Finasteride is an oral medication used to treat male pattern baldness and is recommended by the American Hair Loss Association as the first line of attack for men who wish to treat hair loss.
Minoxidil, a topical treatment applied directly to the scalp, can help regrow hair in men and women. The drug may also slow hair loss. Minoxidil treatment is more effective in women than in men, and may only be recommended for men if treatment with finasteride is unsuccessful.
Medication for Women
Although minoxidil is the only medication specifically approved to treat hair loss in women, your doctor may recommend other medications that may help if your hair loss is caused by androgenetic alopecia.
Oral contraceptives, finasteride, spironolactone and cimetidine treat hair loss by blocking production of androgens, a male hormone that causes androgenetic alopecia.
Because androgens play no part in alopecia areata, some of the medications used to treat androgenetic alopecia aren’t effective in treating alopecia areata, although minoxidil is one exception.
The most common hair restoration treatment for alopecia areata is cortisone injections, according to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Anthralin ointment or cream, a tar-based preparation usually used to treat psoriasis, can also help spur new hair growth.
If medication is not successful in regrowing hair or if hair follicles are damaged due to scarring, a hair replacement system may be an option to restore the natural appearance of your hair. Wigs, hairpieces and weaves can help disguise bald spots or thinning hair.
While budget hairpieces are available with synthetic hair, the American Hair Loss Association reports that the best hairpieces are custom-made and constructed of excellent quality human hair that matches the texture, color, density and wave of your own hair.
Before buying a hair replacement system, consider long-term costs. A hair addition may last approximately 18 months before it begins to lose its natural appearance and must be replaced, according to the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. Maintaining the appearance of your hairpiece requires regular cleaning of the hairpiece and the scalp under the hairpiece.