Table of Contents

Hair Thinning: What Causes It & How to Reverse It

Hair thinning is the process where hair becomes finer and less dense. The hair strands of people who have this condition are no longer thick and this makes the scalp easily noticeable.

The thinning creates an undesired appearance and lowers the person’s self-confidence.

Some of the key points from the article:

  • HAIR THINNING IS A SITUATION WHERE THE HAIR STRANDS BECOME FINER. 
  • IT IS DIFFERENT FROM HAIR LOSS.
  • CERTAIN FACTORS SUCH AS AGE, HORMONES, MALNUTRITION, STRESS, AND HAIRSTYLES CAN CAUSE THINNING.
  • IT CAN BE SEEN IN THE FRONTAL AREA, MIDDLE PART, CROWN, AND SIDES.
  • THINNING CAN PASS DOWN FROM PARENTS.
  • IT CAN BE REVERSED.
  • MINOXIDIL, FINASTERIDE, AND HAIR TRANSPLANT ARE EFFECTIVE TREATMENTS.

What Is Hair Thinning?

Hair thinning is the loss of thickness and density of the hair. During the thinning process, hair diameter is reduced. Terminal hairs (thick hair) start to lose their width and turn into vellus hairs (thin, fine hair).

This process where the follicles gradually stop producing terminal hair and start to produce vellus hair is called hair follicle miniaturization.

It shows itself as diffuse thinning, meaning it affects all over the scalp, not only a particular small area. It can be permanent or temporary, depending on the cause of it.

thinning hair

Hair Thinning vs Balding: What Are the Differences?

Signs of balding and hair thinning are not the same. The differences between thinning of hair and balding are:

Hair thinning:

  • HAIR BECOMES FINER AND LOSES ITS DENSITY
  • BOTH MALES AND FEMALES CAN EXPERIENCE IT
  • IT CAN LEAD TO HAIR LOSS

Balding:

  • THE HAIR IS LOST FROM THE SCALP 
  • DIRECT HAIR LOSS
  • FOLLICLES STOP PRODUCING HAIR

Hair Thinning vs Thin Hair: Are They the Same?

Thin hair and hair thinning are different phrases that have different meanings. They both make your hair look less dense but their formings are different. 

Hair thinning is the process where hair density and thickness are decreased. However, thin hair is a hair strand that is naturally thin, not something that happens later in life.

Is Thinning Hair Normal?

No, hair thinning is not normal. If you’re experiencing it, this indicates a disruption in the hair cycle and hair follicles can’t function as usual.

As long as it doesn’t last for an extended period or affects a significant amount of your hair, you don’t need to worry. Hair usually regains its normal state within a maximum of 6 months.

What Are the Causes of Hair Thinning?

There are several reasons for hair thinning in both males and females. It can happen due to the person’s lifestyle or certain conditions that are related to the body.

Thinning hair causes:

  • AGE 
  • HEREDITARY
  • HORMONES 
  • MALNUTRITION
  • STRESS 
  • HAIRSTYLES 

Age

The hair growth cycle changes as you age. It results in a decrease in the anagen (growing) phase duration. If the anagen phase is shortened, the hair cannot grow completely, and results in finer strands of hair. 

Hereditary

Hair thinning can be hereditary, it can passed down from parents to children. There are 287 genes that are thought to be associated with balding, and they can cause hair thinning too. These genes can be inherited from mother or father. 

The primary baldness gene is considered to be the androgen receptor (AR) gene on the X chromosome. This gene makes the scalp more sensitive to Dihydortestosterone (DHT), an androgen hormone that can alter hair growth. Due to the genes, the scalp reacts to DHT more than normal levels and this increased activity of the hormone causes hair thinning.

Hormones

There are several hormones that can cause hair thinning, which are:

  • ANDROGENS
  • ESTROGENS
  • THYROID HORMONES

 

Hair follicles have androgen and estrogen receptors, and the scalp has thyroid receptors, which means their activity can affect hair growth. Increased DHT levels or decreased estrogen levels can lead to hair thinning by shortening the growing phase of the hair cycle. 

In terms of the thyroid, a decrease or increase can prolong the resting phase (telogen), causing hair thinning. Hormonal therapy can help to regulate hormones, preventing hormonal hair thinning. 

Malnutrition

Certain nutritional deficiencies can lead to hair thinning. It is very important to get enough of these nutrients to have healthy hair.

  • PROTEIN
  • ZINC
  • BIOTIN
  • IRON
  • VITAMIN B12
  • FOLATE
  • VITAMIN D

 

Protein is the core element of the hair follicles. Zinc and biotin are important for protein synthesis. Without enough iron, B12, and folate, the hair follicles can’t reach enough oxygen and can’t grow properly. Vitamin D is an important component that improves the hair cycle. 

Stress

Emotional stress can alter the hair cycle and cause hair thinning. Severe stress can increase cortisol levels (stress hormone) in the body, making too much hair go into the telogen phase at the same time before completing its full growth in the anagen phase, causing the thinning of hair.

Hairstyles

Hairstyles that pull the hair strands tightly can damage hair follicles over time and lead to hair thinning. This type of hair loss is known as traction alopecia.

The hairstyles that can lead to hair thinning are listed below. 

  • Tight braids
  • Cornrows
  • Dreadlocks
  • Tight ponytail

What Are the Causes of Hair Thinning in Women?

Female hair thinning mostly happens due to changes in the hormones. Throughout their lives, women go through some phases that create hormonal alterations in the body. Certain hormones affect the hair cycle directly. That’s why hormonal changes cause thinning hair.

Experiencing Hair Thinning During Pregnancy or After a Miscarriage

If the women experience hormonal imbalance, hair thinning during pregnancy can be seen. For example, miscarriage can cause a drop in estrogen levels and lead to hair thinning. However, it is not common.

Normally, the increased estrogen levels during pregnancy keep the hair in the anagen phase for longer. This prevents hair loss and makes the hair strands more thicker.

Hair Thinning During Post-Partum

Post partum hair thinning happens because of the changes in the estrogen hormone. Estrogen increases during pregnancy and it usually keeps the hair in the anagen phase for a longer period.

After childbirth, estrogen levels decrease and the hairs in the anagen go to the telogen phase all at once. This disruption in the hair cycle causes hair thinning.

Hair Thinning After Menopause

Menopause hair thinning also happens due to hormonal changes. Menopause causes a huge drop in estrogen levels. Decreased estrogen can shorten the growing (anagen) phase and lead to women’s hair thinning.

How to Understand Your Hair Is Thinning

The first signs of hair thinning are a more visible scalp and a low hair volume. To see if the scalp is visible or not, you can look at the top of your head with the help of a mirror. You can also try making a simple ponytail with your hand and analyze if it feels thinner compared to before or not.

Hair Thinning on Top

Hair thinning on top of the head can show itself as a widening middle part. It is especially very common in women. It can also be seen on the crown region, at the highest part of the scalp. It can be easily noticed if you look at the top of your head with the help of two mirrors.

Hair Thinning on the Sides

The thinning can be seen also on the sides of the head. Again, the scalp will be more visible in these areas. Hair thinning on the sides is easy to notice for men but women can see it more clearly when they tie their hair back.  

Hair Thinning at Temples

The hairs on the frontal area can become less thick and less dense and you can have a receding hairline, which is very common in men. As the sides of the hairline become thinner and thinner, it can create an “M” shape in the front.

Can Hair Grow Back After Thinning?

Yes, thinned hair can grow back. Hair thinning is reversible as long as you start the treatment in the early stages. If you start the treatment at a late stage, the hair won’t grow back thicker.

The treatment will help to stop it getting worse.

Is There a Shampoo for Thinning Hair?

Hair thinning shampoos may be helpful in this process. The best shampoo for hair thinning can be the one that has certain ingredients such as caffeine.

A study published in the International Journal of Dermatology shows that caffeine can stimulate hair cycle by counteracting the testosterone effect on hair follicles in androgenic alopecia (genetic hair loss) patients. This stimulation can result in healthier, thicker, and longer hair strands.

What Kind of Supplements Can I Use to Strengthen My Hair?

Certain supplements can help to strengthen hair and prevent further thinning, which are: 

  • MARINE PROTEIN
  • IRON
  • ZINC
  • VITAMIN D 
  • FATTY ACIDS

 

⚠️ Don’t forget to consult your doctor before taking any supplements.

Are There Any Home Remedies to Grow Back and Strengthen My Hair?

Yes, doing a scalp massage and applying herbal oils to the thinned areas can help to strengthen hair. Massaging increases blood flow and helps hair grow.

A study conducted by Dr. Taro Koyama and Dr. Kazuhiro Kobayashi shows that the stress on hair follicles caused by massaging can increase the thickness of hair.

Other than the massaging, herbal oils such as rosemary, peppermint oil, and raspberry ketone were seen to promote hair growth.

How Can I Stop My Hair from Thinning?

There are several ways to stop thinning hair, which are:

  • HEALTHY DIET
  • TAKING SUPPLEMENTS
  • AVOIDING TIGHTLY PULLED HAIRSTYLES

 

A healthy diet and taking supplements can help to prevent malnutrition hair thinning. Choosing loose hairstyles over the ones that pull the hair tightly can prevent hairstyle-caused hair thinning. 

Hair Routine Ideas for Your Hair Thinning

Here is a 3-step  example hair routine for hair thinning. You can adjust the timing and products for yourself.

  1. Apply rosemary oil with a gentle massage to the scalp and wait a couple of hours for your hair to absorb the oil
  2. Wash your hair with a shampoo that contains caffeine and dry your hair.  
  3. Make sure your hair and scalp are dry and apply topical minoxidil to the thinning areas.

How to Treat Hair Thinning

There are mainly 4 treatment options for hair thinning that can be listed as:

  • MINOXIDIL
  • FINASTERIDE
  • LLLT
  • MICRONEEDLING


If hair thinning gets severe and hair loss starts, hair transplantation also could be an option. 

Can You Prevent Your Hair from Thinning?

You can potentially prevent hair thinning if you avoid the action that may cause it. For example, if you avoid hairstyles that pull the hair back, avoid stress by detecting the cause, and eat protein-rich foods regularly. You can minimize hair thinning that may be caused due to these reasons.

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