Advertisement

What can I do about thinning hair?

Anthony L. Komaroff, MD
Internal Medicine
Hair growth often declines as one grows older. About 50% of men and almost as many women older than 40 experience "androgenetic alopecia," or "pattern alopecia."

This is an inherited type of hair loss. It is usually more noticeable in men, where hair begins thinning around the hairline near the temples as well as on the "vertex" (posterior scalp). In women, hair loss is more diffuse, usually without areas of baldness.

There is usually hair shedding as androgenetic alopecia progresses. The condition is normal, and very common. There are two treatments approved by the Food and Drug Administration for androgenetic alopecia:
  • Minoxidil is thought to increase the blood supply to the follicle. This may be helpful, but its effects are lost if you stop using the drug.
  • Finasteride is a pill -- for men only. (This drug can harm a male fetus in a pregnant woman.) In many men, this drug has proved helpful in slowing the progression of androgenetic alopecia.
Hair loss can also occur from illness, stress, poor nutrition, and certain medications. Because there are many causes of hair loss, it is important to see your doctor to find any other underlying condition.
Harvard Medical School A Woman's Guide to Hair Loss and Excess Hair

More About this Book

Harvard Medical School A Woman's Guide to Hair Loss and Excess Hair

How much time do you spend taking care of your hair each day? Multiply that time by the estimated number of days in your lifetime and you will get some idea of the importance of hair in your life. ...

Continue Learning about Hair Loss

I Shed a Lot—Is That Normal?
I Shed a Lot—Is That Normal?
Some shedding is perfectly normal. In fact, most people lose around 50 to 100 hairs every day. But nobody wants to lose more hair than that, and seein...
Read More
How do I manage hair loss on a daily basis?
Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)
On a daily basis, you should treat your hair gently by letting it air dry when possible and avoiding...
More Answers
What causes hair loss in women?
Dr. Elizabeth Boham, MD, MS, RDDr. Elizabeth Boham, MD, MS, RD
There are many possible causes of hair loss in women. The first three imbalances I check for in wome...
More Answers
How Much Hair Loss Is Too Much?
How Much Hair Loss Is Too Much?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.