Can Thinning Hair Grow Back Thicker

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It may be a bit distressing to realize, possibly for your first time, that you get thinning hair — also called diffuse thinning, a term used to describe hair shedding throughout the scalp. It’s common problem faced by women and men alike, which can be attributed by a bunch of factors. The next question…Can your thinning hair grow back thicker?

Causes of thinning hair

Hair shedding could be distressing a lot, particularly true for women. But it’d also be a lot easier once you understand what’s causing the problem so you can manage it much better.

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First off, hair loss (alopecia) is actually a bit complex. It usually has to do with something that goes awry in your hair growth cycle.

Normally, hair growth cycle consists of three major stages [1];

  1. Anagen refers to active phase in which hair follicles actively grow upwards. This is also when the follicle root is strongly attached to the dermal papilla.
  2. Catagen, also called as transitional period between active and dormant (telogen) phase. This is time for the follicle to start moving away from the base of the scalp by detaching the hair bulb from the dermal papilla.
  3. Telogen, also refers to the resting phase of hair growth cycle, when the hair strand stops growing and then finally completely detaches (falls out).

The most common culprit to blame for thinning hair is probably telogen effluvium.

Telogen effluvium is a condition in which hair follicles are pushed prematurely into telogen phase, causing ‘shock’ to the system. As a result, you’ll see large numbers of hairs that fall out about 8 weeks after the shock [2].

Several factors can make telogen effluvium more likely. These include:

  1. Stress or trauma. It’s thought that physiological problems (in severe cases and if left untreated) would take a serious toll on your overall health. Stress for example, is not just a feeling. It can affect the body immune response and lots of parts of the body, including the scalp [3].
  2. Certain medications. Most common cases of telogen effluvium are probably caused by medication. The common culprits include hormone therapies and antibiotics. If you do believe your hair loss has to do with certain medications, ask your doctor for more advice!
  3. Androgenetic alopecia, a common hair loss problem affecting both men and women. Diffuse thinning associated with androgenetic alopecia is more likely to occur in women (see more in this section)!

Can thinning hair grow back thicker?

Once you know what’s triggering your hair shedding, it should be a lot easier to cope with.

The prognosis and outlook of thinning hair may vary from person to person. But the underlying cause usually plays a key role. It can affect the way of how you treat the problem.

On average, there are about 100,000 hair follicles on the scalp [4]. This is a fixed number since we will never lose or gain any. And over time some hair follicles may stop working, causing a condition called anagen effluvium (when hair shedding occurs at anagen phase).

Age is not the single answer for anagen effluvium. A myriad of factors can also make the condition more likely – let’s say changes of hormones with age, infection, or genetics. Another common culprit is medication such as chemotherapy and radiation.

Unlike telogen effluvium, anagen effluvium may cause hair loss (not only on the scalp) but also from the entire body like body hair, eyelashes, or eyebrows [5].

Both thinning hair associated with telogen effluvium and anagen effluvium is usually temporary, though this also depends on what causes the problem.

Once the undying cause addressed, hair growth usually will return. How long it takes to see thicker hair again will vary person to person according to the length of hair.

Can thinning hair of androgenetic alopecia grow back?

Androgenetic alopecia is probably the most common reason for thinning hair in women after telogen effluvium. Almost every woman would eventually get some degree of this pattern hair loss.

In women, it usually starts with gradual thinning found at the part line of the scalp. Over time, the problem may get worse, resulting in diffuse hair shedding that radiates from the top of the head (see the picture below, credit to health.harvard.edu).

And unlike in men, receding hairline is not common for androgenetic alopecia in women. Also, women are less likely to become bald.

The diagnosis may require several tests. The most common ones are by examining the scalp and taking your medical history.

How about the prognosis, can it grow back thicker again? If your thinning hair does have to do with androgenetic alopecia, treatment is necessary. It usually doesn’t improve on its own without treatment. The treatment options are as follows:

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