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Hair Loss Research: The Latest Hair Loss Research

Dealing with hair loss may seem like a magnified issue–especially in the age of Instagram and aspirational Linkedin headshots. 

However, navigating the loss of hair along with the latest in new hair growth treatments is completely common.

In the past, men dealing with hair loss may have turned to options like caffeine, pumpkin seed oil, and even onion juice to deal with bald patches and receding hairlines

These home remedies for hair loss have since given way to more advanced measuresmany of which are backed by scientific research.

When it comes to improving hair growth, there are several popular new treatments for hair loss–two of which have received the FDA’s approval. 

Here’s the scoop on what the future holds for managing hair loss, including hair loss breakthroughs and the latest in hair restoration news. 

Below you’ll also find possible treatment methods to help improve your hair growth, and tap back into your personal fountain of youth

What Causes Hair Loss?

Watching your once-full scalp go from bountiful to sparse patches of hair can be distressing, and it’s especially true when you’re unsure of what might be causing your balding trend. 

There can be several factors that contribute to hair loss—yet the good news is that some are within your control. Some common causes of hair loss include:

Androgenetic Alopecia

This form of hair loss is caused by genes inherited from family—meaning, it’s out of your control. It’s also unfortunately the most common type of hair loss.

Androgenetic alopecia is also known as ‘pattern hair loss,’ and it is usually identifiable by hairs that gradually go missing around the front and crown of the scalp. 

Pattern hair loss is caused by the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which affects hair follicles in a way that causes them to diminish in size and length. 

Alopecia Areata

You may lose hair because your body wrongly targets and attacks hair follicles, believing them to be dangerous outsiders. 

This is what happens with alopecia areata, an autoimmune condition marked by small, round bald patches on the scalp. 

Alopecia areata may sometimes head south and impact the beard, causing facial hair loss there, too.

While around 80% of men with this condition will again grow their lost hair, this condition can sometimes progress into alopecia totalis, which involves complete hair loss from the scalp. 

Other times, it can lead to alopecia universalis, which is complete hair loss around the body.

It is thought that alopecia areata may result from autoimmune conditions like thyroid diseases and vitiligo (a skin condition that involves patchy loss of skin color) .

Telogen Effluvium

Going through an extra-tough experience can sometimes impact your hair. Stress-related ordeals like nutritional deficiencies, chronic fevers and thyroid diseases can sometimes cause hair to prematurely enter into the resting or telogen phase of hair growth, where shedding is common. 

Telogen effluvium occurs when less than 50% of the hair is shed following a quick transition from the growing (anagen) phase to the catagen or regression phase, before landing on the telogen phase.

This form of hair loss is usually temporary, and hair growth may be restored within six months. (More severe cases can last longer.)

Anagen Effluvium

Receiving treatment for a disease like cancer can cause hair loss.

Agents introduced to the body through radiation and chemotherapy can damage hair follicles and lead to hair loss during the growth (anagen) phase. 

Damage from cancer therapies is usually temporary and hair growth should return after about four months.

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Traction Alopecia  

Repeatedly placing your hair in a ponytail or bun can sometimes cause strain and lead to hair loss. Traction alopecia is the result of repeated tension applied to the hair.

The Latest Hair Loss Research

Because of the impact hair loss can have on self-esteem, personal perception and even interpersonal relationships, researchers are constantly seeking to understand the root causes of hair loss, as well as methods that can be used to treat it.

Recent hair loss discoveries point toward novel methods of treating hair loss, as well as interesting ways this condition comes about in the body. 

Some of the latest in hair loss news and potential new treatments for hair loss include:

Research on Dormant Hair Cells and Hair Growth Prevention

The research on dormant hair cells is still in a stage so early, that only animals have been studied. 

Even so, scientists are in the process of better understanding why hair cells stop hair production following hair loss.

With forms of hair loss like male pattern baldness, hair cells are simply dormant and not dead. This leaves room for their awakeninga process scientists are trying to properly understand. In a previous study, scientists identified a pathway known as the JAK-STAT in the stem cells of dormant hair follicles. This pathway keeps hair follicles dormant, preventing hair growth.

A recent study revealed a newly unearthed cell called trichophages. These trichophages are affiliated with the immune system, and are responsible for producing a substance known as Oncostatin M. 

This funny-sounding substance has the not-so-funny ability to keep hair follicles in a state of dormancy.

Scientists are attempting to uncover whether targeted attacks on trichophages can stimulate hair growth through using antibodies or preventing the production of Oncostatin M.

3D Printing for Hair Follicle Production

If you’re a good candidate for hair restoration (a process during which hair loss has stabilized so hairs can be donated from more abundant to lacking areas), this development might be exciting.

Scientists have discovered that human hair follicles may be produced in an environment perfectly tailored for their growth using 3D engineering. 

Using a system that required human skin, hair follicle cells, cells of the hair-growth protein and keratin—scientists were able to stimulate hair growth in a dish. 

JAK-inhibitors were also included to prevent hair cell dormancy.

This development not only shows promise for hair restoration surgeries, but the improved access to lab-grown hair may positively impact how pharmaceutical companies are able to test potential hair growth drugs.

A Newer Hair Transplant Method 

Cosmetic surgery is a popular remedy for hair loss, especially in more severe cases. 

Hair transplants typically require some skin to be taken off from the sides and back of the head, to allow for transfer to lacking areas. This can sometimes leave unwanted scarring.

Using a new method called partial longitudinal follicular unit extraction, only a small part of the follicle is removed and transported to the intended area. 

This means only a portion, and not the whole follicle will be required to produce hair in the new area

This also minimizes chances of losing thickness in the portions of hair where the follicles have been donated.

Possible Therapy for Hair Loss

Over the last two decades, very little progress has been made in manufacturing topical therapies for hair growth. 

This may be about to change considering the capabilities of a variant of the protein Osteopontin.

Clinical trials are underway to determine whether this molecule can stimulate hair growth in humans, following injections of the substance into the scalp of bald men with alopecia

This research follows a study that showed some promise in improving hair re-growth in mice.

Treatments for Hair Growth 

While current research and methods hold promise in improving hair growth, some are still not ready for mass use. 

In the meantime, there are two trusted measures which have been approved for remedying hair loss. These include:

Finasteride

Finasteride works to improve hair loss by preventing the actions of the hair loss-causing enzyme, DHT. 

The medication binds to DHT on the scalp, and prevents the enzyme from causing the follicles to become miniaturized.

Finasteride is available in oral tablets, and can be easily sourced following a prescription from a healthcare professional.

Minoxidil

As a topical foam or in a solution, minoxidil is able to provide a suitable environment for hair growth on the scalp. 

It works by  enlarging the hair follicles, thus giving them increased access to blood, oxygen and nutrients required to grow. 

Minoxidil also helps elongate the growth phase of the hair, allowing for longer, stronger hairs to grow.

Minoxidil is available in 2% or 5% formulations.

A Toast to the Future

With research developments that could transform our understanding of hair loss and improve treatments to promote hair growth, loss of hair could be downgraded to a minor inconvenience readily managed by improved medical advancements.

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.