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Hair Regrowth Treatments: A Comprehensive Guide

December 24, 2021
Dermatologist Haircare Bible
Dermatologist Dr Teo Wan Lin is the author of Haircare Bible: Dermatologist’s Tips on Cosmeceutical Haircare, which also includes tips on using cosmeceuticals to thicken the ageing, thinning hair shaft.


Are you looking for effective hair regrowth treatments in Singapore? 

First, understand why your hair is falling out.

The above forms an important basis for understanding how scalp stimulation therapies work. This article goes through the commonest causes of hair loss and which hair regrowth treatments are suitable. Also, strategies to reduce hair breakage are included.

Hair regrowth treatments are for those who suffer from hair loss. They are also for all who seek to have healthy and beautiful hair as they age. Successful treatment options are those that ensure long term sustainable results. 

The scalp and hair care industry is one of the biggest industries in the cosmetic market. This encompasses nutraceuticals, in the form of supplements as well as cosmeceuticals. Hair regrowth treatments can also be technologies or devices used in dermatologist clinics and home use devices. 

Which hair regrowth treatments actually work?

Topical applications that stimulate hair growth form a sizeable market share of the hair care industry. Hair loss shampoos, conditioners, serums and oils are various modes of application of hair care products. Most over the counter remedies have limited efficacy. It is best to use what is recommended by your dermatologist.

Red Light Therapy for Hair Regrowth Treatments
Low level laser therapy that uses red light (wavelength 630-670 nanometers) has been demonstrated to be effective in patter balding hair loss treatments.

LED light therapy treatments¹ are offered at TWL Specialist Skin and Laser Centre as an effective measure to increase hair density and hair regrowth rates.

Visit a dermatologist for advice on hair regrowth treatments

Dermatologists are the accredited specialists who are able to advise on scalp and hair treatments. Firstly, causes of treatable hair loss must be investigated. Other than pattern hair loss, autoimmune and systemic disease can cause hair loss. Telogen effluvium, which is hair loss caused by stress, can be due to post pregnancy states. The condition can also be attributed to prolonged illnesses. Alopecia areata is a reversible autoimmune disease that attacks the hair follicles. Traditional hair regrowth treatments will not work for this. A dermatologist will be able to diagnose this sort of non-scarring hair loss quickly. Injected steroids are usually required. Oral steroids are necessary for rapidly spreading autoimmune hair loss. 

Hair regrowth treatments should be comprehensive and not based on one modality alone. Non invasive, non surgical treatment methods are preferred over hair transplant. This is because transplantation is not readily available, and may not be sustainable for those who are unable to afford these treatments. Examples of non-invasive therapies are Laser diode treatments that can be delivered in a clinic setting. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is far more convenient to use home devices such as hair regrowth combs. These devices utilise radio frequency as well as laser diode to stimulate your hair follicles.

An intensive regimen may not be as effective as a sustainable one

it is important to understand that hair regrowth treatments have to be a comprehensive regimen rather than an intensive one. This is important because focusing only on one method, for example intensive clinic treatments, will see the hair fall returning once treatments are stopped. Also, one has to understand that many may not have time or the budget for frequent in-clinic treatments. The evidence for hair regrowth treatments is more towards a well rounded treatment regimen rather than a one-modality method.

Hair Regrowth Mask Bar
The Hair Mask Bar System is developed with a focus on environmentally conscious, science-backed botanical ingredients for a deep-conditioning home hair spa treatment. The haircare formulation delivers salon-results, without the toxic chemical runoff associated with the traditional haircare industry.

A home hair care regimen can be helpful to maintain a heathy scalp microbiome to treat scalp disorders such as dandruff and scalp pimples which can exacerbate hair fall. For example, application of hair regrowth serums alone is not going to deliver the same results as if you were to utilize the entire range of hair regrowth treatments available. Also, if there is an underlying cause of hair loss, one should focus on treatment of the medical condition first. For example, hormonal hair loss due to underlying polycystic ovarian syndrome can cause raised testosterone levels which can accelerate pattern hair loss.

LED therapy is an effective form of hair regrowth treatment. It stimulates hair regrowth after completion of at least 6-12 sessions. LED light therapy for hair follicle stimulation has been shown in scientific studies¹ to stimulate the hair follicles to grow. It can also cause thickening of the hair shaft so hair appears more voluminous. This can be via stimulation of the stem cells of the hair follicles from the LED lights. Red and yellow LED light therapy is performed usually on a weekly basis as part of a intensive hair regrowth treatment regimen at our dermatology practice over 6-12 weeks before tapering off on home care alone.

At TWL Specialist Skin & Laser center, every patient has a thorough analysis of their hair and the scalp before a treatment regimen is recommended to them. Red and yellow light therapy is an effective way to increase hair growth in the short to medium term. Laser diode therapy is delivered via a home use device which combines radio frequency treatment.

Hair regrowth treatment shampoos and serums

The other important part of hair follicle stimulation is actually application of  shampoos and topical serums to maintain a healthy scalp. The purpose of scalp cleansing must not be forgotten. The scalp is exposed to a constantly humid environment in Singapore. This means that residual dirt and grime can mix with scalp oils to form an unhealthy scalp microbiome. Increased hair loss can occur from an unhealthy scalp environment. Also, male and female pattern hair loss means that you have thinner hair strands on the scalp. This can make your scalp feel greasier as there are less hair strands to moisturise.

Treating Scalp pimples and flaking can benefit hair regrowth 

If you suffer from folliculitis which refers to pimples on the scalp or dandruff, your hair fall problem can be accelerated by this inflammation. What is necessary then is to treat the underlying inflammation before initiating an aggressive hair regrowth therapy session. The reason is because hair is part of a complex cycle. This cycle means that your hair goes through a few stages of cycling. Approximately 70 to 90% of your hair should be in the growth phase and 5 to 10% in the shedding phase. What this means is if there is an imbalance in the cycling, more hair goes into the shedding phase.

As a result, you are going to develop thinning hair. We ideally want more hair in the growing phase or the anagen phase. Effective hair regrowth treatments are supposed to help that. However, if you cannot stop your hair from cycling fast to the falling out phase, then there will still be an imbalance. This can make your hair regrowth treatments ineffective. 

Scalp folliculitis is treated with oral medications such as oral antibiotics for three to six months. If you suffer from folliculitis or seborrheic dermatitis (the medical name for scalp dandruff), it is beneficial for you to consult a dermatologist. An accredited dermatologist will assess your risk factors of developing hair loss, and underlying health conditions that can cause hair loss. Your dermatologist will then recommend a regimen for you to improve your hair condition. An effective hair regrowth treatment regimen encompasses the following: improvement of hair density and treatment of any underlying inflammation.

Medicated shampoos can be part of an effective hair regrowth regimen

Shampoos containing antifungal active ingredients such as ketoconazole and zinc pyrithone / salicylic acid are very often necessary for those who suffer from severe seborrheic dermatitis. 

Ketoconazole² shampoo is also sometimes used off label for treatment of pattern hair loss. The reason is because it has an anti-testosterone effect. The basis of increased hair fall in men and women who suffer from pattern hair loss has to do with the receptors on the scalp being particularly sensitive to the circulating levels of male hormones. In women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome, this can also accelerate pattern hair loss symptoms. Symptoms of polycystic ovarian syndrome also include excess hair growth on the face and body, irregular menstrual cycles and infertility.

A sustainable home hair care regimen is equally important 

It is critical that we focus on home maintenance therapy for hair regrowth treatments. In particular, for androgenetic alopecia, also known as male and female pattern hair loss. This is because it is a very slowly progressive condition that eventually causes hair loss over decades. Once the diagnosis has been established, your dermatologist will be able to customise a sustainable hair care regimen for you long term according to your budget. Our focus at TWL Specialist Skin & Laser Centre is to encourage cost effective sustainable home hair care regimens tailored for the individual’s hair and scalp concern. 

Oral therapies are of limited value. Finasteride³ (also known by its trade name Propecia) are suitable for short to medium term treatment for men who suffer from androgenetic alopecia. Oral spironolactone for women can be of value for female pattern hair loss. However, treatment is usually accompanied by laboratory test monitoring which some may find inconvenient. 

While LED light treatments are effective, they are usually only prescribed over a period of two up to six months in the clinic setting. It can only deliver a certain level of results and it is best to include a comprehensive range of hair regrowth treatments in order to have a sustainable result. Topical serums such as those made based off minoxidil⁴ can increase hair growth. However, topical minoxidil can also cause scalp irritation. 

What is used in our dermatology practice is copper peptide serum⁵ which is a proprietary formulation containing an antioxidant that stimulates hair regrowth. It can also be used with micro needling to enhance absorption. 

Your hair regrowth treatment regimen must include care of the hair shaft. 

However, it is important after you have done all of these things, to ensure that the quality of your hair shaft is equally healthy. Hair regrowth treatments should not just focus on the scalp, but also on the hair shaft. The reason is because if your hair shaft is unmanageable, there will be a lot of breakage and it will lead to even more hair loss. Hair loss due to breakage is far more common than we imagine.

Grooming practices play a part for the aging scalp. It is important to highlight gentle hair grooming practices. These gentle hair grooming practices are best inculcated from youth. This means using a wooden brush instead of plastic or metal combs. Wooden brushes reduced static and also do not tear hair out. Flexible bristles such as those made from bamboo are preferred over stiff combs. The use of appropriate hair conditioner is important. Many hair volumizers exists in the market. However, it is important to look for active ingredients that actually help to thicken your hair. The use of hydrolyzed proteins in hair treatment masks and conditioners rather than silicone is preferred for individuals who suffer from thinning hair.

The Hair Thickening Mask, containing hydrolysed proteins, is Dermatologist-formulated designed to increase hair volume and stimulate hair growth.

Hydrolyzed proteins do not weigh hair down. While silicones can smoothen and moisturize the hair shaft, it can cause hair to appear limp without volume. An important hair regrowth treatment strategy besides increasing hair density, is to increase individual hair thickness and volume. This means that your hair can appear more voluminous. 

Scalp hygiene is an important part of hair regrowth treatment

Washing your hair on a daily basis is an important part of your hair regrowth treatment. This is especially if you live in a tropical humid climates like Singapore where the heat and humidity encourages sebaceous glands to produce more sebum. According to our dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin, this is because if your scalp is greasy, your scalp microbiome will be abnormal. This increases the risk of one developing the above mentioned scalp disorders such as scalp folliculitis and seborrheic dermatitis. These scalp disorders can cause itching, sensitivity and ultimately increase the rate of hair fall. Consequently, it can worsen the underlying genetic or hormonal related hair fall 

Hair shaft cosmeceuticals as part of hair regrowth treatments to increase strength and thickness of hair 

Finally, there are other methods to improve the quality of your hair shaft. The use of plant based oils is a method to strengthen the hair shaft. Selected plant seed oils have close physico-chemical properties with healthy hair shaft. The way to measure your hair shaft’s elasticity is also by doing a stretch test. This means that if you pull your wet hair, it should readily return to its original length. Hair with good elasticity also does not break so easily when wet. 

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Why is it important to visit a dermatologist for hair regrowth treatments?

Dr. Teo Wan Lin is a dermatologist accredited by the Specialist Accreditation Board, Ministry of Health Singapore, and specialises in both medical and cosmetic dermatology.

An accredited dermatologist is able to advise you comprehensively on your scalp health as well as rule out underlying causes of your hair loss. 

Summary of causes of hair loss and hair regrowth treatment options 

Finally, if you are looking for thicker, fuller and more voluminous shiny hair it is important for you first to ensure you do not have an underlying health condition that may actually cause hair fall. This is to make sure that any dangerous conditions are ruled out before hair regrowth treatments are started. If you would like to start on an anti-aging regimen for hair, it is important for you to learn about the ways to strengthen your hair shaft and this can be done with home treatments.

How to maintain healthy shiny hair as part of aging gracefully 

The treatable causes of hair loss can be mainly divided into the following. Pattern related hair loss, which in males is known as male pattern hair loss and in females, female pattern hair loss. This is the biggest category of patients who will benefit from hair regrowth treatment. The reason is because pattern hair loss is driven by hormonal and genetic influences. It is a slowly progressive condition that will ultimately lead to hair shaft miniaturization which means that your hair follicles shrink in size over many decades. 

The purpose of hair regrowth treatments in patients with pattern hair loss is twofold. Firstly, it slows down the process of hair miniaturization, which is a big problem in patients with androgenetic alopecia. Secondly, it induces the growth of new hair, which is important. Most patients who need hair regrowth treatments belong to the mid 20s onwards group. This is because of the process of biological aging.

Biological aging leads to cell death. This process known as cellular senescence also affects the hair quality. In terms of age alone, it can affect the amount as well as the quality of hair that an individual has. Hair regrowth treatments are hence suitable for those who are concerned about thinning hair associated with aging as well. The important non-invasive hair regrowth treatments are readily available to patients in the comfort of their own homes. 

These hair regrowth treatment options are applicable only when more serious causes of hair loss, such as scarring alopecia, or hair loss due to systemic disease are excluded. For example, autoimmune disease. Thyroid disorders are also important medical conditions that can cause hair loss.

Consequently, it is important that if you are diagnosed with any one of the above conditions, that you seek medical treatment by an accredited specialist before embarking on hair regrowth treatments only. This is the reason why consultation with an accredited dermatologist is key. The roots of the hair are affected by your nutritional status as well. If you are suffering from nutritional deficiency, it is possible that you would suffer from poor hair quality as well as increased hair loss.

In terms of self-care, hair regrowth treatments are important if you wish to maintain a healthy head of hair as you are aging. Much has been spoken about aging of the skin but it is important for us to address aging of the scalp as well. This is where hair regrowth treatments are both science based and an important part of your anti aging regime. 

Book an appointment with Dr. Teo Wan Lin to commence on your scalp care and discuss hair regrowth treatment options.

References:

  1. Zarei M, Wikramanayake TC, Falto-Aizpurua L, Schachner LA, Jimenez JJ. Low level laser therapy and hair regrowth: an evidence-based review. Lasers Med Sci. 2016 Feb;31(2):363-71. doi: 10.1007/s10103-015-1818-2. Epub 2015 Dec 21. PMID: 26690359.
  2. Fields JR, Vonu PM, Monir RL, Schoch JJ. Topical ketoconazole for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: A systematic review. Dermatol Ther. 2020 Jan;33(1):e13202. doi: 10.1111/dth.13202. Epub 2020 Jan 2. PMID: 31858672.
  3. McClellan KJ, Markham A. Finasteride: a review of its use in male pattern hair loss. Drugs. 1999 Jan;57(1):111-26. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199957010-00014. PMID: 9951956.
  4. Suchonwanit P, Thammarucha S, Leerunyakul K. Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2019 Aug 9;13:2777-2786. doi: 10.2147/DDDT.S214907. Erratum in: Drug Des Devel Ther. 2020 Feb 10;14:575. PMID: 31496654; PMCID: PMC6691938.
  5. Pickart L, Margolina A. Regenerative and Protective Actions of the GHK-Cu Peptide in the Light of the New Gene Data. Int J Mol Sci. 2018 Jul 7;19(7):1987. doi: 10.3390/ijms19071987. PMID: 29986520; PMCID: PMC6073405
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