“Create healthy habits, not restrictions.”
I am kicking off a super exciting new series dedicated to your health. The older I get, the more I strive to live a healthy lifestyle by eating good foods, exercising and taking care of my mental/spiritual well being. I was honored to be chosen by Kaiser Permanente of Orange County to talk to different Doctor’s about health topics that concern/interest me. They asked me for topics on women’s AND men’s health and over the course of the next few months I will take on each topic with a doctor specializing in that particular subject. So for my first installment we are tackling a men’s health issue that not too many people may feel comfortable discussing; hair loss.
Men’s hair loss can be a super embarrassing topic since it is so personal and most men don’t want to bring attention to it, in fact they usually want to hide it. But today we are going to bring some light to the situation and hopefully begin a conversation for those of you who know someone struggling with it, or if YOU are someone going through it right now.
For our conversation I was connected with Dr. Mouhammad Aouthmany; doctor of dermatology at Kaiser Permanente Orange County, graduate of Indiana University. I was able to talk pretty candidly with Dr. Aouthmany and he was more than knowelable on the topic. Here are some highlights from our discussion.
1 Why does Hair Loss occur?
To best answer this question, I need to quickly explain the basics of hair loss. In the medical profession, they call this “inconvenient” condition Androgenetic Alopecia, commonly referred to as male pattern baldness. In short, male pattern baldness is thought to be caused by the dominance of testosterone (DHT to be specific) which acts like an enemy to the hair follicles on your head. The DHT shrinks the follicles making it just about impossible for the healthy hair to survive.
There are two different forms of alopecia; scarring or non-scarring. Male Pattern Alopecia, MPA, falls under non-scarring, follicles are still in tact since there are no scars and that means POTENTIAL for growth. The causes of MPA is still in majority caused by genetics. An old wives tale is that if your mom’s dad had a head of hair you would be fine. Dr. Aouthmany said that it doesn’t matter which side of the family, if its in your genes, then you could fall victim to hair loss.
Besides genetics, MPA is also caused by stress. Stress and hair loss go together like peanut butter and jelly, according to the doctor. It is not always the day to day pressures but more your overall health and well-being. Things like high blood pressure, extra weight, diabetes, bad eating habits, even caffeine abuse can all play roles in your stress levels, therefore hightening your chances of hair loss.
Other non scarring alopecia, called TE, or Telogen effluvium, is also brought on by stress, serious illness, high fevers, drugs (such as medication for high blood pressure, diabetes, etc…), fad diets, emotional stress, etc..which can all push the hair into a resting phase.
2 What can you do to help slow down or prevent more hair loss?
You can start with the most simple; eating a healthy diet including ridding your meals of inflammatory foods like dairy, red meat, etc… and making sure you are getting lots of good fats from foods like fish that include viviscal; a protein complex. Working out and being active to make sure you maintain a steady weight is also very important. You can try to reduce stress levels by meditating on a daily basis. This could include yoga, tai chi, or simply laying still for 10 minutes with no electronics, no distractions, no nothing (I suggest if you have kids to wait until they are in bed or before they wake in the morning).
Another natural way to possibly stimulate hair growth is by adding Vitamin D to your daily regimen. It is commonly used with patients that have alopecia and can help reset hair follicles. Dr. Aouthmany suggests taking 1000-2000 units a day and even recommends the “Nature Made” brand. But he does not suggest trying to get your Vitamin D from the sun which could cause bigger problems. Always wear a hat if you are outside to cover any bald spots because trying to cure cancer is a whole lot harder than trying to fix a bald spot.
3 Are there medications that can help?
If non of these more natural ways are showing any signs of improvement then it might be time to try an over the counter option. Rogaine, or as Dr. Aouthmany liked to refer to it as, the fertilizer for your head. Most people know it is a topical medicine that helps you hold on to the hair you have. It basically increases the blood flow helping follicles to grow. He did say the first three to six months you might actually see more hair loss, this is very typical because the medicine is pushing out the old hair and growing new follicals, so don’t be alarmed. He suggests not to stop the medication for at least a year. After the first six months are over there should be some signs of improvement, then it would quite possibly be something you use forever. Skin irritation is the main side effect, if that happens you may want to try the foam version of the medication. I found this 3-month supply on amazon for $42.
If you still are not seeing the results you are hoping for you could ask your doctor for a prescription called Finasterid, or Propesia, 1mg per day. As with any type of internal medication the side effects are going to be greater. Most common side effects with this type of medication is decreased libido or E.D.
4 Are there any other options?
I did ask Dr. Aouthmany about hair transplant surgery, also referred to as hair plugs, but he actually did not recommend this option. It is very invasive and expensive and he says lots of men are not able to keep the hair that has been transplanted typically from the back of the head to the front. If you were to do the surgery you would still have to use Rogaine to help the hair that was transplanted to not fall out.
We discussed a few other options like laser treatments involving a special light on the folicles, which could possibly make the hair thicker, but there is no real evidence to prove it. He also mentioned different shampoos that claim to help, which might have ingredients that block some testosterone, but again there is no real evidence to support these findings.
Overall, Dr. Aouthmany suggests a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, practicing meditation or having quiet time, exercising and possibly using a daily medication such as Rogain. I think I can speak for most ladies when we say, men, don’t sweat the hair thing. Hair, no hair, it doesn’t really matter to us. We do want you to be healthy, but if all that is in line and you still can’t keep a head of hair then we would be happy to help you shave what little you have left and go for the bald look. Just promise us you will stop doing that comb over thing, it doesn’t do anything for you, or for us. We ladies think it is time for a bald prince and that’s the truth behind hair loss.The truth behind hair loss? It may be time for a bald prince! Find out more... Click To Tweet
***This post was sponsored by Kaiser Permanente, but as always opinions about comb overs are all mine!;) There are also amazon affiliate links within this post for your shopping convenience.***