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WebMD health-e head2toe: skin care today

Thinning Hair Treatments and Solutions

Has your hair gotten finer in recent years? Innovative shampoos, conditioners, and other products can help.
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Healthy Hair Starts With Protection From the Sun

Both natural sunlight and artificial ultraviolet light break down the keratin protein in hair and damage its elasticity. Hair becomes weakened and dry with excess sun exposure --  similar to the effects of bleaching though not as severe.

Sunscreens are now found in a variety of hair care products, including shampoos, conditioners, and hairsprays. They prevent breakdown of keratin due to sun exposure and also keep hair dye from fading in ultraviolet light.

Conditioners that come with at-home hair coloring kits now contain sunscreens that filter both UVA and UVB rays.


Can You Reverse Hair Loss?

Men and women both experience hair loss. Men usually have to deal with it at a much younger age due in large part to genetics. Two drugs, minoxidil and finasteride, have been shown to encourage the regrowth of hair in about one out of every three men. Finasteride, however, carries some risk of sexual side effects such as erectile dysfunction.

For women, 2% minoxidil applied to the scalp has been shown to help with male pattern baldness -- receding hair at the temples and at the top of the head.

The FDA has approved a laser comb that has been shown in a clinical trial to stimulate hair growth in men. Robert Bernstein, MD, associate clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University, says that the comb may actually work better in women with no known side effects. The handheld comb uses phototherapy, or infrared light, to stimulate hair growth in men with alopecia or baldness.

Since the laser comb is a medical device, it has not had the same kind of rigorous testing that drugs get. Experts point out that it’s unclear how the comb actually works. This has led to skepticism about its effectiveness. Dermatologists, though, say the laser comb may be a viable alternative for people who can’t use the prescription medications.

Reviewed on November 01, 2012
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