Society’s brightest scientific minds have sought a cure for baldness for centuries. From ancient scholars to Medieval alchemists to the billion-dollar laboratories of today, efforts to restore hair loss have been a consistent thread of medical history.
Sure, we’ve made substantive progress on this front, but why hasn’t there yet been a definitive cure for baldness from the medical community?
Today we’re going to look into this puzzling question, offer some insights on the best modern methods for hair restoration, and get a glimpse into the future of the field.
Cures vs. Treatments
Right off the bat, let’s distinguish cures from treatments.
Cures eliminate conditions entirely, and in many cases, ensure that it cannot return.
Treatments, on the other hand, are meant to help manage the symptoms of something. While all cures are treatments, not all treatments are cures.
Here are a few of the ways hair loss can be treated:
- Reduce the rate at which hair falls out, or how quickly hairlines recede.
- Slow down hair thinning and potentially bring back some thickness.
- Limit the inflammation on the scalp to prevent scratching and shedding.
- Stimulate blood flow on the problem area to promote follicle growth.
- Block DHT hormones that are said to accelerate hair loss.
So while there are countless methods to treat hair loss, a cure is still out of the picture for now.
While scientists are inching closer, there are still a lot of mysteries surrounding the reason why androgenetic baldness occurs.
We know that factors such as DHT, a male hormone that stunts the hair growth cycle, is a key piece of the puzzle, and that blood flow to the scalp also plays a role.
Where researchers are still unsure how the “internal clock” of the hair follicles function, they have narrowed things down to a small subset of organic mechanisms in the area.
As more information on this subject is revealed, the closer we’ll get to understanding how hair cycles really work and how we can use them for our own purposes.
How Hair Loss is Diagnosed
With all this talk about cures and treatments, one might be led to believe hair loss is a disease.
The truth is that most hair loss cases are not the result of an underlying disease, but a hereditary condition called androgenetic alopecia.
Since it affects around 85 percent of the male population over the age of 50 and does not have any impact on the overall health of the patient, it isn’t considered a dangerous disease. Of course, losing your hair isn’t a desirable position to be in, so doctors and patients take it seriously and approach it like any other serious condition.
As we mentioned, androgenetic hair loss is a very complex and layered issue, but there are other diagnoses that point to other underlying problems.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disorder that results in small, oddly-shaped patches of hair failing unpredictably from the scalp. While no cure for this disease exists either, there are treatments specific to the condition that can help with some of the loss by helping the body to boost immunity.
Medications such as Minoxidil or Finasteride should not be used to treat any other causes of balding other than androgenetic.
Other environmental and lifestyle factors can definitely contribute to hair loss, and it’s important that patients try to make as many positive changes to their health as possible before seeking more serious medical or surgical methods.
Seek Help From the Pros
If you find yourself noticing early signs of hair loss, it’s important that you take action as soon as possible, since treatments are most effective at this first stage.
Folks who seek immediate recourse for hair loss can see the best results, since the preferred medications are meant to restore those first few lost follicles.
A qualified hair restoration specialist can give you a full examination to determine the cause of your hair loss, offer medical advice, and design a personalized strategy moving forward.
Many of the new online hair loss services essentially allow people to self-diagnose and easily access medications such as Finasteride.
While there aren’t major side effects to products like this, the internet age has the potential downside of overlooking key aspects of the hair loss diagnosis.
It’s always preferred to have even a virtual consultation with a physician and get the facts face to face, rather than doing it all online.
What the Future Holds
It’s the question everyone’s been asking: how close are we to a real cure?
We all want that magic pill that reverses all the damage done and returns us to that youthful hairline we’ve been missing for years.
While that magic may still be a ways off, there are signs of hope right now.
According to science journalists at Labiotech, two European companies have made some impressive strides with new topical medications.
Follicum is a Swedish company that jumped on a study from Lund University, which found hair regrowth properties of a variant of the protein osteopontin.
This molecule occurs naturally in our bodies and showed promising results on lab mice. By targeting a specific function of hair follicle cells, scientists found that this protein caused the hair cycles to shift gears from resting to growth phases.
Originally tested in an injectable form, the company is looking to create a more convenient creamlike product for topical use.
Another biotech from Italy called Cassiopeia is working on a topical product that aims to block the negative effects of DHT, similar to the action seen in Finasteride. The product, known for now as Breezula, has had several successful trials thus far, and investors are already keen on big sales numbers when it hits markets soon.
Labiotech also pointed out that many new products are being developed specifically for women, who cannot safely take products that impact DHT due to the hormonal consequences.
Additionally, University of Texas researchers have made progress on the KROX20 protein, which has been shown to produce stem cell factor proteins and potentially lead to hair growth.
Studies from the University of Edinburgh are looking at hair loss from a genetic angle, and researchers have already discovered 287 genetic regions related to baldness.
It may be slow going, but the progress made in this field is all good news for folks who want a new approach to hair restoration.
While scientists on the cutting edge of hair restoration technology are making strides daily, improving proven formulas and refining regimens, no cure exists for androgenetic baldness, and the other conditions that cause hair loss are also difficult to treat comprehensively.
Procedures such as Follicular Unit Excision have made leaps and bounds in the meantime, and doctors are highly confident in their abilities to graft hair artistically and accurately.
It is tough to accept at first that there is not yet a certain cure for baldness, but with the right resources and a commitment to the process, patients can make a lot of forward progress.
If you want to stay in the know about the latest developments in the hair loss industry and see where science is headed next, be sure to tune in to our Balding Blog and sign up for our email newsletter as well.