Losing hair not a generational thing

It is common for young people today to believe that they are losing their hair faster than previous generations. They fear that several conditions, including stress, environment and job competitions are causing their hair to fall out earlier and faster. But then, this is probably what their parents thought too.

The generation that is currently at the typical age when hair loss first becomes apparent are millennials, or adults under the age of 40. The reasons cited by this generation for their presumed hair loss are that life is currently more stressful than before, but often this unneeded stress is caused by holding on to pessimistic, bleak outlooks on their future prospects.

Some research even adds weight to the suggestion that millennials are losing their hair earlier. But such research could be over-simplifying, especially when they are supported by surveys or other points of self-reported data.

Now studies that have been going on for years have confirmed that the actual rates of hair loss of millennials has more to do with their assumptions than reality. The actual rate of hair loss measured by the researchers was found to be far lower than perceived rates.

Without substantive studies to back their claims of a surge in hair loss among their generation, it is evident that it is the fear of hair loss and its potential implications for their future that are to blame for the attitudes and perceptions of millennials.

Nevertheless, this is of little solace to people who feel they are losing hair. So here are a few things to do if you feel that you are prematurely losing hair.

Remember that being concerned about hair loss and actually losing your hair are two different things. People shed quite a bit of hair every day as part of the natural process, so a person finding a few extra strands clogged in their bathroom drain should not use that as the only source of data when measuring hair loss.

Part of the evaluation is looking at potential underlying causes of hair loss, such as diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. People with early or severe androgenic alopecia need to see a primary care doctor who can help them evaluate and manage these issues with lifestyle modifications, diet, and exercise.

Most commonly, hair loss is often referred to as ‘pattern hair loss,’ or ‘androgenic alopecia’. However, there are many other causes of hair loss that follow a different course, and which needs to be considered and treated very differently. There may also be bloodwork or other evaluations that can help further investigate the root cause of hair loss.

There are currently two medications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration that have been demonstrated to be safe and effective for hair loss: Rogaine (minoxidil) and Propecia (finasteride). However, both come with risks and benefits that should be discussed and reviewed with a physician.

There are also other treatments, such as low-level laser light therapy and platelet-rich plasma, but both need more evidence to prove if they are safe and effective. Many over-the-counter (OTC) hair-loss remedies lack scientific evidence and validity of their so-called ‘reported’ success.

The first thing to do in dealing with potential hair loss is not to panic. Do not make any drastic changes in lifestyle or habits unless under the guidance or direction of a medical professional. Sometimes taking up an intense new workout regimen or starting a new restrictive diet can backfire because these can cause a ‘shock’ to the system and cause the hair to shift or reset in its cycling, causing a shedding phenomenon called ‘telogen effluvium’, which can be quite dramatic, though fortunately typically temporary.