Hair Miniaturization: What Causes It?
Hair miniaturization is a phenomenon in which strands of hair become thinner, shorter, more brittle, or weak with each successive progression through the hair growth cycle. Over time, the miniaturization process leads to the appearance of thin or lackluster hair. In some cases, hair may stop growing altogether. No matter what the cause, hair miniaturization is one of the most common conditions that ultimately lead to pattern baldness. It can be effectively treated when diagnosed early however, helping the affected individual experience a better quality of life.
There are several reasons why the hair miniaturization process may begin. Below are the top 5 causes of this phenomenon.
Top 5 Causes of Hair Miniaturization
Genetics. The most common cause of hair miniaturization is androgenetic alopecia, a specific type of hair loss that is often genetically inherited. According to NIH.gov, androgenetic alopecia affects an estimated 35 million American men as well as several million women (i). The hair miniaturization process typically begins as hair recedes from either temporal side of the head, creating the “M” shape for which male and female pattern baldness is most widely recognized. Additional miniaturization may occur at the crown (top) of the head as well, depending on the severity of the condition. Hair usually ceases to grow entirely as the miniaturization process continues to make hair thinner and finer, leading to complete baldness in the affected area(s).
DHT. Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is another common cause of hair miniaturization. DHT is a special form of testosterone that is created when testosterone is synthesized by the enzyme 5α-reductase. The rate at which this synthesis occurs, and thus the amount of DHT present in the scalp, may differ greatly from one individual to the next. High levels of DHT may have an adverse affect on the health and functionality of hair follicles by causing them to shrink over time; eventually, DHT may even cause the hair follicle to disappear. In this way, DHT drives the hair miniaturization process by slowly rendering the hair follicle incapable of sustaining normal hair growth.
Telogen Effluvium. Telogen Effluvium is a phenomenon in which hair prematurely enters the resting phase, or Telogen phase, of the hair growth cycle. As a result, the affected area will appear to have less hair over time. When it does grow, the hair may become thinner and finer, thus exhibiting the characteristics of hair miniaturization. The most common causes of Telogen Effluvium include stress, physical trauma, prescription medications, and nutritional deficiency.
Nutritional Deficiency. Hair is like any other part of the body; it needs the right combination of protein, vitamins, minerals, and other hair healthy nutrients in order to grow. Nutritional deficiency may cause hair miniaturization indirectly by contributing to larger health issues, so it’s vital to eat a balanced diet. Foods for healthy hair include protein (omega-rich salmon is best), gluten free carbohydrates, vitamins E and C, biotin, zinc, magnesium, and iron.
Natural Aging. Aging is perhaps the most common cause of hair miniaturization. There are several theories of aging; the two most widely known are the wear and tear theory and the free radical theory. According to wear and tear theory, there is a maximum time for which our body cells can function naturally, after which they begin to shut-down due to natural “wear and tear.” The free radical theory states that body cells have enormous potential for sustained activity, however human beings experience only a small fraction of that potential due to the oxidative stress our cells experience on a daily basis (free radicals, ultraviolet light exposure, pollution, emotional stress, etc.) In both cases, hair follicles become less able to sustain hair growth over time, leading to hair miniaturization, thinning, and loss of hair.
Treating Hair Miniaturization: Creating a Healthy Head of Hair
If your hair appears to be getting thinner or finer, or you experience pattern baldness, schedule a hair loss evaluation with the Hair Transplant Institute of Miami. Our team is comprised of South Florida’s finest hair transplant surgeons, nurses, microscopists, and technicians. We understand the challenges that hair loss presents to personal, social, and professional life, and we are here to make a difference.
Learn more about hair loss evaluations online, or call our Institute directly at 1-877-443-9070.
Sources for this report include:
(i) Androgenetic Alopecia. Genetics Home Reference. Accessed January 29, 2013.