You may not realize it, but dermatologists don’t just treat skin conditions. We also treat hair and nail conditions as they are an outgrowth of the skin. Recently, dermatologists discovered a successful, breakthrough treatment for a specific type of hair loss that many people share. I’d like to tell you about it as well as some other successful options for hair loss that you may have not considered.
Hair Loss: These 2 Treatments and Natural Nutrients Offer Hope
I often see patients with psoriasis – a condition of the autoimmune system – which causes the skin to develop inflamed, red patches of scaly, itchy skin. It can be a very disheartening condition.
People who have autoimmune disorders, like psoriasis, have an immune system that doesn’t function correctly. They develop too much inflammatory proteins called cytokines. In normally working immune systems, these proteins fight infections. But, in people with immune disorders, these proteins start to attack the body rather than help heal it. This can result in several autoimmune disorders like psoriasis, lupus and several forms of arthritis.
People with psoriasis can develop a type of hair loss called alopecia universalis – a big medical word that means hair loss all over their body. People can lose all the hair on their heads, eyebrows, and body hair. Other people develop alopecia areata – hair loss in specific areas. This happens because the psoriasis “plaques” damage the hair follicles in their skin and causes the hair shaft to no longer form.
Generally, dermatologists have opted to just treat the psoriasis with the idea that getting the psoriasis under control would restore the health of the damaged hair follicles. But it’s been a challenging situation for dermatologists and a disheartening one for their patients.
Recently, however, a dermatology study out of Yale University found that tofacitinib citrate, a drug commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, also worked to treat psoriasis. But, an even more exciting benefit was found. The treatment actually grew back all of the body hair of the patient that the formula was tried on. And not just light, baby-like fuzz, but a real, full head of real hair, eyebrows, and body hair that the patient had lost from an early age from psoriasis.
Now, does the tofacitinib work on regular male pattern baldness? It’s not really known yet as studies have not gotten underway. But, the Yale researchers are hopeful that, because all types of hair loss share certain characteristics, that tofacitinib may also help remedy pattern baldness as well. I’ll keep you updated as the results come in.
What Works in Male Pattern Baldness?
“Male” pattern baldness is a condition that refers to the typical hair loss pattern we see more commonly in men – receding hairline, spotty or full crown baldness. This type of baldness is generally caused by an over-abundance of the hormone DHT – dihydrotestosterone. DHT is manufactured by the adrenal glands and attaches to hair follicles causing them to become weak and fall out. Hormone imbalances can result in too much circulating DHT.
There are several drugs on the market that claim to help male pattern baldness, but most men are left disappointed. Minoxidil 5%, however, has been research proven to help regrow hair and is FDA approved. It can be bought over the counter in most pharmacies. Yet, if you aren’t addressing the DHT, you’re not going to be very successful in your hair loss battle.
I feel that natural DHT blocking herbs, as well as certain foods, can boost your success in your hair loss efforts. These include:
1. Saw palmetto – contains beta sitosterol that is research proven to block DHT. It also has been helpful in treating benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Studies have shown 60% increase in hair growth as well as improvement in dryness of hair.
2. Pumpkin seeds – also contains research proven, “delta-7 plant sterols”, as well as an amino acid, cucurbitin, that blocks DHT production. Russian men have eaten pumpkin seeds for years as a natural “folk cure” for prostate problems.
3. Pygeum africanum – an herb that also contains DHT blocking plant sterols.
4. Foods That Block DHT: Peanuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, Brussels sprouts, rye bread, olive oil all contain DHT-blocking plant sterols.
5. Vitamins and Minerals that Block DHT: The B vitamins, especially biotin, niacin, folic and pantothenic acids help block DHT and support hair formation. Zinc also helps block DHT
6. Foods That Boost Hair Growth: Sulfur-containing foods, like onions and garlic, boost keratin and collagen production necessary for hair shaft formation.
7. Vitamins, Minerals and Other Nutrients that Boost Hair Growth: Vitamin A supports scalp/skin health, Vitamin E, Vitamin C act as antioxidants that fight inflammation. Copper reduces inflammation and fights grey hair, calcium works with keratin and other proteins to build hair structure. Silica, PABA, grape seed extract, green tea extract, choline and inositol all help in healthy hair production.
What Works in Female Pattern Baldness?
Hair loss in women – often called female pattern baldness – is not the same as what happens in men. Women rarely develop receding hairlines, but do develop noticeable thinning in the crown area, as well as overall thinning. The hair shaft itself becomes very thin as it doesn’t mature in the hair follicle. In women, hair loss is most often caused by these things:
- Heredity. Women can inherit hair loss patterns from both their mother and father. This usually involves an underlying hormone imbalance of too much androgens (male hormones) that can be treated.
- Polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). This creates an over-abundance of testosterone in a woman’s system. Treating this condition can restore normal hair growth in most cases. Sometimes surgery is necessary to remove large cysts.
- Lupus, thyroid disorders, psoriasis – autoimmune disorders. Inflammation of the scalp, scarring, can lead to damaged hair follicles where the hair shaft does not develop or mature. As noted earlier, tofacitinib has been shown effective in this type of hair loss. Ask your doctor if it might benefit you.
- Hair follicle damage. This is hair loss that results from hair follicle damage from scarring of the scalp. This can occur from injury or chemical burns from over-use of caustic hair chemicals (straighteners, bleaches, etc). Stopping use of these products may allow hair to regrow if the hair follicle can become healthy again.
- Medications. Many medications contribute to hair loss from a depletion in the nutrients that support hair health. These include anticoagulants, hormones, gout drugs, heart drugs (beta blockers, angiotensin converting enzymes), diabetic drugs, etc. Ask your doctor if your hair loss is associated with any drugs you may be taking and if there is an alternative.
It’s natural for people to lose about 80-100 hairs a day from natural shedding. But, if you’re concerned with hair thinning, or loss, ask your dermatologist about it first. They can help you find the cause of your hair loss and help devise a treatment plan. If your diet is deficient in hair-health nutrients, re-adding them via foods or supplements, can help your hair follicle regain its strength and grow hair normally again.
Jay Brachfeld, M.D.
Dermatologists Can Help Women Win The Fight Against Common Forms of Hair Loss http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100306143329.htm
What Is Plaque Psoriasis? https://www.humira.com/psoriasis/what-is-psoriasis?cid=ppc_ppd_hderm_ggl_035448
Dermatologists Can Help Women Win The Fight Against Common Forms of Hair Loss, http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/03/100306143329.htm