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How To Fight Genetic Hair Loss

By Jon McKenna
Medically Reviewed by Rawaa Almukhtar, MD on April 12, 2021
Genetic hair loss can't be "cured," but there are things you can do to slow the thinning.

Most men and women will notice gradual hair loss as they age, or experience hair thinning. But according to a 2019 article published by Harvard Medical School, four in 10 people will experience hair loss due to their genetics. 

How will you know if your hair loss is inherited or a result of stress or disease? Genetic hair loss, also known as hereditary pattern baldness, almost always affects your hairline up to the middle of the top of your head, John Kahan, MD, a hair restoration specialist in Beverly Hills, California tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Men may experience pronounced hair loss that starts at the temples or hairline and proceeds in an M-shaped pattern. A woman’s genetic hair loss often is less obvious but more widespread.

On the other hand, if you are losing hair from the back of your head or in clumps or patches, then it’s almost certainly not a hereditary factor and needs a doctor’s attention, says Kahen.

Can You Reverse Genetic Hair Loss?

According to Harvard Medical School, hair loss due to hereditary factors cannot be regenerated significantly, if at all. If your hair loss began at an earlier age, the chances that it will increase over time are high.

But there are options to slow down the development of hair loss. Certain medications are available for certain types of hair loss but you will have to be extremely disciplined when using the medication daily.

Hair Loss Treatments That Can Help

While research into new hair loss medications and scalp creams are constant, only two products have been consistently effective:

Minoxidil Also known as Rogaine, Minoxidil is an over-the-counter solution you apply twice-daily to your scalp. It works by increasing blood circulation to the affected area of your scalp, thickening and strengthening the hair follicles. Both men and women can use Rogaine. Results usually show after four to eight months of application.

“If people use it twice per day religiously, it works. If they only use it once a day or skip a day, less so. Rogaine can be sticky, messy, and uncomfortable on the scalp, so the compliance rate is not that great,” says Kahen. 

Finasteride Finasteride is a prescription pill that addresses genetic hair loss by preventing testosterone from being converted to a substance called DHC which weakens hair follicles. An FDA-approved medication for male pattern baldness, Finasteride is taken once daily and if used consistently, has a high success rate at slowing down genetic hair loss.

While “results are very predictable” with both medications, some side effects do arise which can include skin irritations and headaches with Minoxidil, and decreased libido or sexual dysfunction with Finasteride, explains Susan Bard, MD, and a dermatologist in New York. 

Get Help Now

Don’t wait. The sooner you address the symptoms of hair loss, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to begin your journey to a fuller head of hair.