When we say, ‘hair miniaturization‘, are we literally speaking about tiny hair? Not exactly. But if you’re one of the people living with the condition, you’ve probably heard the term. Or maybe not.
You see, although there are hundreds of millions of people around the world dealing with visible hair loss, there’s also a considerable number of people who aren’t aware it’s even happening.
What is Hair Miniaturization?
Hair miniaturization is a biological process (also known as “balding”), usually driven by genetics and hormones, in which scalp hairs shrink in size over time. The condition begins in the hair follicles, some of which are genetically susceptible to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
This sex hormone contributes to adult male characteristics such as a deeper voice, muscle mass, and the growth of body hair. It also causes the anagen hair growth phase on the scalp to become progressively shorter.
Because the anagen hair growth cycle is shorter, the individual hairs (usually from one to four) in the follicles don’t have time to grow and mature to full size. And that’s where the term “hair miniaturization” comes in; as the hairs decrease in length and diameter, they eventually disappear, resulting in baldness and thinning in those areas.
Hair Miniaturization Doesn’t Happen Everywhere to Everyone
In many people, the hair follicles in some regions of the scalp (typically the back and sides) are not affected by the DHT hormone, so the person will likely never experience hair loss or hair miniaturization in those areas. This configuration of hair loss is commonly known as “male pattern baldness” because it tends to affect mostly men.
Women also experience hair loss, typically appearing as a general thinning across the top of the head and down the part-line. The symptoms are usually milder because women produce lower levels of the enzyme 5a-reductase that converts testosterone into DHT.
9 Signs and Symptoms of Hair Miniaturization
- Your hair is falling out more than usual.
The average rate of hair loss is about 100 per day; anything more could be problematic.
- Receding hairline.
Hair is thinning in the temple area, creating an M shape on your forehead.
- The hair on the crown is thinning.
A light bald spot is forming in the crown area.
- Hair seems thinner overall.
You seem to be seeing more of your scalp than before.
- You notice it in photos.
Pictures tell the story. Compare the old ones with new ones.
- People are mentioning it.
Are your friends and family telling you you’d look better if you shaved it all off?
- Hair seems to take longer to grow.
As the anagen growth cycle shortens, hair takes longer to grow.
- Your barber or hairdresser mentions it.
A trained professional will likely notice the signs before you do.
- Itchy scalp.
The more you scratch, the more hair will fall out. Cure the itch, save some hair!
Solutions for Hair Miniaturization
Before you decide to take extreme measures to resolve hair miniaturization, such as hair transplant surgery, start with less invasive options to see how they work.
Applying a combination of Finasteride and Minoxidil 5% to the affected areas of the scalp can slow down and reverse hair miniaturization, especially at the beginning stages of hair loss. These two medications can also have a positive impact on the thickness and volume of the hair.
Finasteride works by preventing testosterone from converting into DHT in regions under the scalp and surrounding the hair follicles. Reduced DHT prevents balding and helps to elongate the anagen hair growth cycle.
Minoxidil 5% helps to eliminate blockages to the scalp’s pores, such as excess oil, dead skin, and dust. Its antiseptic formulation penetrates deep into the hair follicles, killing bacteria, improving blood circulation, and reducing DHT levels.
DHT-blocking shampoos for hair miniaturization offer lower doses of these two medications combined, which may also be useful in disrupting the effects of DHT on the hair follicles of some individuals.
Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
Modern technology has an “electrifying” solution to the problem of hair miniaturization, and the FDA has cleared it: Low-Level Laser Therapy.
LLLT devices come in wand or cap form and emit a continuous red LED light, which is said to increase blood circulation in the hair follicles while reducing inflammation.
The combination of these two processes is believed to stimulate the epidermal cells around the hair follicle bulge, which promotes the hair to move into the anagen growth phase more quickly.
Vitamins and Minerals to Stop Hair Miniaturization
Many vitamin and supplement companies claim to have products that promote hair growth and slow down hair miniaturization, but few of these claims can be scientifically proven.
One interesting observation researchers have noted is that individuals who are deficient in vitamin D or iron can help restore hair loss brought on by stress, shock, or trauma by adding these supplements to their daily regimen.
If you are experiencing hair miniaturization, it couldn’t hurt to have your doctor check out your vitamin D and iron levels. Even if it doesn’t help with hair loss, knowing your levels can help you avoid other illnesses such as cancer and anemia.
Hair miniaturization doesn’t have to be a distressing or depressing experience. If you notice that the quality of your life is being affected negatively, then embark on a journey to solve the problem. These non-invasive, non-surgical alternatives for hair miniaturization might be the key to success in overcoming the condition.