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How to Fix Thinning Hair

Katelyn Hagerty

Medically reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 6/5/2021

Seeing lots of hair in your shower drain or blowing around on your hardwood floors? You’re not alone: Two in three men suffer from male pattern hair loss (AKA “androgenic alopecia”) by age 35

And it often starts earlier: About 25 percent of men who struggle with thinning hair and excess hair loss can noticeably tell the difference by the time they turn 21.

Luckily, there are many options for how to fix thinning hair in males, including diet, lifestyle changes and medications. Read on to regain locks you’ll love.

What Causes Thinning Hair?

The average guy is born with 100,000 hair follicles (each of which makes and holds a single strand of hair at a time) on his head. This hair follicle count remains consistent throughout life.

What doesn't always stay the same, however, is hair health and how much hair thins over time. Hair follicles can also stop growing hair, or simply shed more throughout each day. 

A typical person sheds about 50 to 100 hairs daily, and anything beyond that can be defined as excessive hair loss. 

All of us lose hair as part of the hair’s natural growth cycle. This happens in three stages:

  • Anagen stage: The strand of hair is actively growing. This generally lasts two to six years.

  • Catagen stage: During this roughly three-week transition phase, the hair strand stops growing and is getting ready to shed.

  • Telogen stage: The strand of hair is expelled from the follicle. After the hair sheds, the follicle remains dormant for about three months before sprouting its next strand of hair.

Male pattern hair loss is often caused by genetics, habits, other health conditions or a combination of all of the above. The most common causes of hair thinning among men include

  • Over-treating hair, using harsh products or washing hair too often

  • Wearing tight buns or hats

  • Not eating a well-balanced diet, which includes enough iron, folic acid and other minerals that fuel normal follicle growth

  • Chronic stress, which can cause cortisol levels to spike, and lead to extra hair loss 

  • Fast weight loss, or about 20 pounds or more in a few months

  • Autoimmune diseases 

  • Skin infections or disorders

  • Immune deficiencies

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How to Tell if Your Hair Health Needs Help

If you’re noticing hair thinning so severe you can see the difference, it can be wise to meet with a healthcare professional to discuss your hair health and how to increase hair growth

To diagnose hair thinning, a healthcare provider may ask about:

  • Your current diet, including any recent changes

  • Preexisting medical conditions 

  • Family history of hair thinning or medical conditions that could cause it 

After an exam and/or discussion, if your healthcare professional is unclear, he or she may work with a laboratory to test your hair or scalp samples, or order blood tests to ensure you don’t have other health conditions besides hair thinning. 

How To Fix Hair Thinning in Males

Home remedies like essential oils are commonly touted as solutions for how to fix hair thinning. But according to the pros, the methods below are the best hair loss treatments available.

Scalp Massage

With zero side effects and no cost, this is the ideal first step in your quest for healthier and thicker hair. 

As you wash your hair—using both shampoo and conditioner to keep it hydrated and strong—use the pads of your fingertips to gently apply pressure on your scalp to stimulate blood flow.

Thinning-Specific Shampoo

A thickening shampoo is designed to not only add volume to your hair, but is also infused with vitamins and amino acids for a healthier scalp that will grow more healthy hair.

Finasteride

For some patients, depending on the severity and circumstances of the hair thinning, doctors prescribe a daily pill like finasteride (Propecia) instead of topical treatments. 

Unlike topical treatments for hair thinning like Minoxidil, this is only recommended for men due to potential side effects. Finasteride is also available in spray form (topical finasteride) if you prefer that to a pill. 

Minoxidil

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter liquid or foam hair loss and hair thinning treatment approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

Apply minoxidil consistently and you should see results within a few months; often quicker if you use it in tandem with finasteride.

Spironolactone

Spironolactone (Aldactone) is typically prescribed as a “water pill,” but is also used for men whose thinning hair is a result of excess androgen production. 

A blood test can pinpoint if androgen could be the cause of your hair thinning—and if it is, this could be a great hair loss treatment option.

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Bottom Line on How to Fix Thinning Hair

In addition to these hair loss treatment options, a healthy diet can help keep your hair growing long and strong. 

Aim to consume a well-balanced diet with a mix of all macronutrients, including protein, fat and carbohydrates. 

The best foods for hair are ones that provide enough of the essential vitamins and minerals involved in hair growth, including vitamin A, vitamin B12, vitamin C, biotin, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium and zinc. (Ask your healthcare professional if you might benefit from a blood test to see if a multivitamin or specific biotin supplement could fill any dietary gaps.)

As you maintain your hair thinning treatment program, fuel up with these 10 best hair-healthy foods:

  1. Dark leafy greens

  2. Carrots

  3. Eggs

  4. Oysters

  5. Whole grains

  6. Salmon 

  7. Poultry

  8. Beans 

  9. Nuts

  10. Low-fat dairy

As always, it’s wise to check with a healthcare professional, to help determine the cause of your hair thinning, and to pinpoint the best treatment options for you. 

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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.

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