Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 3/14/2021
Literally no one wants a shiny bald spot, but many men deal with thinning hair. The good news about this: the demand for a “fix” has resulted in a few different treatment options that may slow your hair loss, and in some cases encourage new hair growth.
In the realm of hair loss treatments, growing new hair on a bald spot is the holy grail. But seeking out this treasure isn’t necessarily a lost cause. Read on for what might work to slow the growth of that spot, and potentially fill it in.
Before you can fix something, whether it’s your car or your thinning hair, it helps a whole lot to know what’s causing the problem.
When it comes to hair loss, there are a few potential culprits, but the most likely is known as androgenetic alopecia.
Androgenic alopecia is the most common kind of hair loss and may affect more than 50 million men in the United States alone.
It’s also known as male pattern hair loss, and is a hereditary condition that may begin any time after puberty.
Generally, it begins with thinning and receding hair at the temples, but also at the top or crown of the head, where it can leave a nice bullseye of a bald spot.
Other causes of bald spots may include telogen effluvium, often caused by a traumatic medical event or medication; anagen effluvium which may be the result of chemotherapy; tinea capitis or ringworm, caused by a fungal infection; alopecia areata, which is an autoimmune condition; or even frequent styling or hair damage.
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what’s causing your bald spot.
Chatting with a healthcare professional or dermatologist will help you get more clarity on a definite cause. However, because male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia is the most likely candidate, that’s where we’ll focus our discussion of potential treatments.
If we could all learn how to regrow hair on bald spots without leaving home or calling in a professional, the hair loss treatment industry would go under.
In other words, people don’t choose prescription medications, hair pieces, and surgery because their the easiest — what’s referred to as “natural” or DIY bald spot treatments don’t have a solid track record of effectiveness.
That said, there is some scientific evidence that some approaches may be helpful.
One issue with the research surrounding natural hair growth treatments is quality. A study that showed peppermint oil may help regrow hair in lab mice doesn’t necessarily prove it will be effective in men suffering from androgenic alopecia, for example.
The best evidence would be research conducted rigorously on humans, but in many cases, that research simply hasn’t been done. That said, what follows is some of the research available:
A few studies have indicated topical caffeine — even coffee shampoo — may reduce hair shedding and lessen the speed and intensity of hair loss.
When combined with the traditional medication minoxidil, one study of 60 patients showed that caffeine was able to improve results when compared with a minoxidil-only solution.
Curcumin may also be able to improve the effectiveness of minoxidil, according to one study.
Although the compound (found in turmeric) showed no effects when used alone topically, it may increase the absorption of minoxidil into the skin, improving drug delivery.
Several proprietary marine protein supplements have been tested with potentially positive results.
These supplements generally include marine proteins and lipids, and are said to promote hair growth and decrease hair loss.
Of course, shellfish allergies makes this option inappropriate for many people.
Oil derived from the herb rosemary may be a natural alternative to minoxidil.
One study of just 100 patients compared the effects of the two topical treatments and found them to be comparable.
Vitamin deficiency may lead to hair loss, so if it’s determined to be a potential factor in your bald spot, supplementing with the vitamin you’re deficient in could help alleviate your symptoms.
Numerous other natural products such as garlic gel, onion juice, and pumpkin seed have been posited to offer hair growth benefits, but more research is needed to determine if they truly offer any benefits. Similar with the natural products listed above, the research is scant and we’re far from having solid proof.
There are a few different medications that have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, and there are more being investigated as potential treatment options.
Because they’ve been approved by the FDA, you know that the scientific evidence has passed a certain level of soundness.
Originally approved to treat hypertension, minoxidil is now a common topical solution for hair loss.
It was offered as a 2% solution in 1986 and a stronger 5% solution in 1993, so it’s been around as a hair loss treatment for some time.
Hair loss stops in about half of men who use minoxidil, and in a smaller percentage, hair growth begins again.
One caveat: Stopping minoxidil treatment causes the hair loss process to begin again, so this isn’t a cure.
Originally approved for the treatment of prostate conditions, oral finasteride reduces androgens that can cause hair loss.
Finasteride is effective at stopping hair loss in many men, and in a smaller portion beginning hair regrowth.
However, like minoxidil, if you stop treatment, your hair loss will resume.
Other medications that may hold promise for future hair regrowth treatments include dutasteride, which acts in a similar manner to finasteride; latanoprost, a treatment for glaucoma and pressure in the eyes; and ketoconazole, an antifungal agent.
Surgery is generally considered a last resort in all medical treatments, and that goes for hair regrowth as well. But surgical options exist.
The most common and recent approach to hair loss surgery is what’s known as follicular unit extraction, where small “punches” of hair follicles are removed from a donor area on the scalp or body and transplanted into the bald spot.
The alleged benefit of this type of surgery over hair transplant options of years passed is the lack of scarring.
However, the process does take longer and, of course, there are risks.
If you’ve tried other conventional approaches to regrow hair on a bald spot, and you’re now considering surgery, chatting with a healthcare professional or surgeon about the risks and benefits is a good place to start.
You’re balding, and it’s obviously not something you enjoy. But, it is common.
Largely because androgenetic alopecia is so common, there are a few different treatment options available.
Those approved by the FDA are backed by the most solid research, but having appropriate expectations will ensure you’re not let-down when you don’t wake up to a full head of hair within a few weeks.
Medical treatments for androgenetic alopecia take time and consistency.
The first benefit you can look for is a slowing or maybe stopping of hair loss. And that’s progress!
Hair regrowth is possible with treatments like minoxidil and finasteride, but it doesn’t happen in everyone. If your bald spot stops growing, that’s certainly a sign of effectiveness, and if the spot starts filling in with new hair, it’s icing on the cake.
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