If you’ve watched your parents lose their hair, it’s easy to panic every time you pull out a strand of your own in the shower. You may worry that your hairline, too, will soon be receding without intervention.
It’s possible to prevent some types of hair loss, but androgenetic alopecia — known better as male- or female-pattern baldness — is not preventable, William Yates, MD, a board-certified hair loss expert in Illinois tells WebMD Connect to Care. However, that doesn’t mean it’s hopeless. There’s still plenty you can do to reduce the risk of developing baldness, and early treatments can slow or even reverse hair loss.
What Causes Receding Hairline?
According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, androgenetic alopecia is a very common form of hair loss affecting 50 million men and 30 million women. By the age of 50, at least half of men will have some form of androgenetic alopecia. A receding hairline is likely genetic, though researchers have not established the pattern of inheritance — contrary to popular myths that it can only come from one side of the family.
Numerous other health conditions can also be the cause of a receding hairline. According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the most common preventable culprits include:
- Traction alopecia: This happens when pulling on the hair, usually from very tight hairstyles, pulls the hair out at its root. Avoid putting the hair in very tight buns or ponytails, or using hair products that pull. People who twist or pull their hair to manage stress may also be at risk of traction alopecia.
- Stress and illness: Severe stress and certain illnesses may temporarily cause the hair to fall out. Managing these conditions may help in preventing a receding hairline.
- Alopecia areata: Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, which means that it causes the body to attack healthy cells — in this case, in the hair follicles. Doctors do not understand what causes alopecia areata, but prompt treatment may help prevent a receding hairline.
How to Prevent Receding Hairline
“You cannot completely prevent hair loss if someone has androgenetic alopecia,” says Yates. That’s because the hairline recedes when a derivative of testosterone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), attacks the hair follicles, according to a 2013 article published in Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Doctors do not fully understand why this happens, or how to prevent it.
However, Yates recommends a number of treatments to slow hair loss once it begins. Those include:
- Finasteride : Available under the brand name, Propecia, this prescription tablet blocks up to 70 percent of DHT, slowing, and sometimes reversing hair loss, explains Yates.
- Minoxidil : A topical solution sold as Rogaine and many other brands, this over-the-counter drug can help slow down hair loss.
- Platelet-rich plasma therapy: Doctors may treat damaged hair follicles with blood plasma.
- Low-level laser light therapy: This form of treatment uses a laser cap to stimulate hair growth and slow damage to hair follicles.
- Hair transplants: “This moves hair from the back of the scalp to areas of thinning. This hair is not susceptible to DHT because it is genetically different,” says Yates.
Get Help Now
It is not always possible to prevent a receding hairline, but early treatment can help slow hair loss. The sooner you address this issue with your doctor, the more likely you are to prevent irreversible damage. Speak to a medical professional today to grow a fuller head of hair.