Hair Follicles Can Now be Grown in Labs: What This Means for Hair Loss

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The Hair Society of America reports about 35 million men and 21 million women experience hair loss in the United States.
While hair loss is a regular part of daily life — the American Academy of Dermatology Association reveals it’s common to lose between 50 and 100 hairs each day — it can be traumatic and upsetting to notice thinning hair and bald spots on your head.
Common remedies certainly exist, with tried and true options that can be prescribed by dermatologists or available over the counter to ease these concerns and bring back thicker, fuller hair.
Now, research out of Japan sheds light on potential new methods for growing hair that can have implications for treating hair loss, animal testing, as well as drug screenings down the line.
This new work saw researchers generate new hair follicles — those tube-shaped pores that hug the strand and root of a hair — in vitro in a lab. It’s a development that experts say can both open pathways for better hair loss treatments and a clearer understanding of how hair follicles develop in general.
How hair loss treatments are determined
While this new research offers a tantalizing picture of what could be possible if you are experiencing hair loss right now, what avenues currently exist?
Dr. Peter Young is the medical director for Keeps, which specializes in treatment for men’s hair loss by way of FDA-approved, home-delivered treatments.
Young, who is unaffiliated with the new research out of Japan, said that it is all dependent on the type of hair loss you might be experiencing. You might be able to reverse this hair loss and grow new hairs, or just slow down the process at the least. To figure out what is the right method, Young said you have to figure out the cause of a specific individual’s hair loss.
“In order to determine the cause and best treatment for your hair loss, your provider will take a thorough history. focusing on the various medical conditions that can cause hair loss, including thyroid disease, anemia, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus,” Young explained. “The provider will also inquire about physical or emotional stressors that may have led to your hair loss and request a list of your current medications.”
Next, your provider will visually examine your scalp. This is due to the fact that different kinds of hair loss appear in different ways to the naked eye. If the underlying cause is still unclear after this kind of examination, your provider might then recommend blood work and even take a biopsy of your scalp and look at that sample under a microscope, he added.
“If your hair loss is caused by an underlying disease, such as thyroid disease or anemia, then treatment for that disease will be necessary to reverse the hair loss. There are various medications that can lead to hair loss, for example, certain blood pressure medications. If you’re on one of these medications and experiencing hair loss, then your doctor may switch you to a different medication,” Young said.