Not only are bald spots not very nice to look at, but they could be a sign that further hair loss is down the road. More often than not, patchy hair is a signal that the internal health of your body or something else in your life is not optimum.
So take it as a sign for something to be fixed, rather than just looking for a way to cover it up.
Now is the time to take action and regrow that patch. And at the same time, make sure you protect your hair against thinning and patches in the future.
Having spent over 5 years researching the causes and solutions for hair problems I have a unique perspective on how to solve this problem, and in this article I’m going to share with you my best tips on getting rid of bald spots.
Personally I prefer to focus on natural ways to treat bald patches, however I will still give an overview of some of the pharmaceuticals and other invasive ways that could help if you choose to go down this route.
(I have a bias towards natural and holistic methods though)
In this post, I’ll discuss the implications that having a bald spot can have on your health and your life. You’ll learn:
- What causes small areas to start losing hair;
- The steps you should take immediately if you notice a balding patch;
- How to prevent further hair loss while you address the issue;
- Whether minoxidil and finasteride are enough to treat the issue; and
- The FOUR natural methods that will help you to regrow hair on your thinning area.
Now, let’s get started!
What Causes a Bald Spot?
The most common cause of hair loss in men is Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA), also known as Male-Pattern Baldness (MPB) (1). It’s characterized by a receding hairline, thinning hair, and general scalp irritation.
The exact cause is unknown, though researchers believe that an androgen hormone called DHT plays a major role (2).
DHT is a naturally occurring substance, which is produced from the interaction between testosterone (the male sex hormone) and 5-alpha-reductase (5AR) (an enzyme). When DHT attaches to the follicles of men and women with AGA, it causes inflammation and irritation (3).
If left untreated, this eventually leads to miniaturization of the follicle and hair fall.
In men, this hair loss is first noticed on the hairline. In women, it tends to start on the crown.
Alopecia Areata (AA) is an autouimmune condition in which the immune system attacks the hair follicles (4). When this occurs, small, circular patches of the scalp are affected and baldness takes hold.
This condition can go into remission, and it often does. This means the bald patches regrow hair on their own, and balding slows down or stops for a period of time.
Just as it sounds, traction alopecia is a form of hair loss caused by traction, or friction. It’s not the most common cause of hair loss, but it’s still one that can lead to bald patches on the scalp.
The leading cause of traction alopecia is too-tight hairstyles. The continual pull on the follicles can break the hair, and even lead to the follicles becoming too damaged to function.
You can also get traction alopecia from wearing hats, or performing repeated motions (such as trichotillomania).
Fungal and bacterial infections can be a common cause of sudden bald patches, and they can happen in anyone.
They occur when an overgrowth of a fungus or bacteria takes over an area of the scalp. These infections can be within the hair follicles, or even on the scalp’s surface.
In many cases, you’ll need medical intervention to overcome scalp infections. The treatments may include steroid creams, antifungal medications, or antibiotics.
A condition that’s commonly mistaken for dandruff, Seborrheic Dermatitis (SD) is a condition that causes scaly, itchy skin. It occurs in patches throughout the body, including the scalp.
All types of people can suffer from this condition, though infants (under three months of age) and adults between 30 and 60 are the largest groups affected.
Researchers do believe that fungal overgrowth is a main contributor, but genetics, environment, and lifestyle can also play a role (7).
So, how does SD lead to hair loss?
When SD patches appear on the scalp, they can interrupt the hair growth process. This can lead to bald patches in affected areas.
Psoriasis is a condition commonly confused with SD, but there are two major differences.
First, psoriasis results in drier, hornier patches.
Second, psoriasis is an autoimmune condition (8). It leads to an overgrowth of skin cells, which build upon themselves and cause itching and irritation as a result.
Similar to SD, the patches associated with psoriasis can cause bald spots on the scalp. If not handled, this can mean permanent damage to the follicles.
What To Do If You Notice a Balding Patch?
It’s a safe bet that you want to treat the problem as quickly as possible. So, what should you do if you notice a balding patch?
Find the Cause
This will take a bit of investigation on your part.
First, ask yourself these questions:
- Is there a history of hair loss in my family? If so, what kind?
- Are the patches itchy, or otherwise irritated?
- Did the balding happen suddenly, or over a period of time?
- Where is the patch located, and could it be from traction?
The answers to these questions will get you started on the path to a ‘diagnosis’, and enable you to more expertly treat the issue.
Prevent Further Hair Loss
While treating the issue directly is critical to stopping hair loss for good, it’s not likely your immediate concern. Instead, you’re more likely worried about stopping hair loss right now.
Unfortunately, there’s no miracle cure for hair loss. However, there are techniques you can use to prevent further hair loss so your balding doesn’t worsen as you work to solve the longer-term issue.
What are these methods?
There’s no doubt that losing hair is an incredibly stressful situation. And even if stress wasn’t the initial cause of your loss, it can certainly contribute to continued hair fall (9).
That’s why it’s important to lower your stress levels.
Stress can have various sources, including interpersonal, professional, and mental. While attacking the direct cause of your stress is important, you can also add a few techniques to your day for overall stress control.
What do I recommend to handle stress?
Meditation and abdominal breathing is a good place to start.
When you are stressed, you tend to bring in less oxygen (as your breathing is shallow). This can have a direct impact on your hair’s health.
Why? Because oxygen affects the conversion of DHT within the scalp. Higher levels of oxygen means lower DHT.
Let me explain.
DHT is produced from the interaction between 5AR and testosterone via Androgen Receptors (ARs) (10). This occurs within the liver and testes, predominantly, but also within the hair follicles. A hypoxic (low oxygen) environment has been shown to increase AR activity, which means more DHT production can occur (11).
This means hair follicles with low oxygen levels are the perfect place for increased DHT production.
But there’s also another factor, and that’s tension.
Stress and tension are linked, in that individuals who are stressed are more like to tense their muscles (particularly within the neck and upper back) (12). This pulls the scalp tighter and, as a result, lowers blood flow.
So, what does this mean for hair loss? One study, performed in 2015, actually showed that mechanical stress (a.k.a. tension) determines pattern hair loss pattern (13):
With meditation and abdominal breathing, you can practice breath control. This enables you to bring more oxygen into your body, which is delivered to the hair follicles as a result.
Yoga is another practice with benefit, and it’s also great for physical health (14). In particular, it can reduce tension (especially in the neck and upper back) which relieves stretching of the Dermal Papilla Cells (DPCs) so as not to damage the follicles (15).
You may not yet know the exact cause of your hair loss, but perhaps you have a general idea of the triggers. If so, you can remove the triggers from your life to keep any further loss at bay.
What are some of the most common triggers?
Food allergies are one, as sensitivity to foods can cause systemic inflammation (16). The most common foods allergies to cause such delay reaction include dairy, gluten, and soy.
Hormonal imbalance can also cause hair loss, and is especially common in women. It may be a result of medications (such as birth control pills) or medical conditions (including PCOS) (17). Men can also suffer from hormonal imbalances, especially if they have hypo/hyperthyroid or are on a hormone replacement drug.
Other triggers include vitamin deficiency, weight loss/weight gain, and even stress.
You can remove many of these triggers on your own, or with the help of your primary care physician. For example, an elimination diet can help you to pinpoint your food allergies, and a nutrient supplement can temporarily handle your vitamin deficiency.
Treat It At Its Source
Now that you’ve put a stop to any immediate hair loss, you can begin to treat the source of your balding.
This step will depend entirely on the cause of your hair loss, but there are plenty of techniques that can be used for different conditions.
These include scalp massage and stimulation, microneedling, natural hair products, and diet changes. I’ll discuss these more in-depth at a later point.
Can Minoxidil and/or Finasteride Help?
So, can they be used to successfully grow hair on a bald spot?
Minoxidil, more popularly known as Rogaine, is a topical drug that’s applied to the scalp once or twice daily. It comes in a solution or foam, and it can be used by both men and women (though, foam is recommended for men only).
How does it work?
This improves the hair’s oxygen and vitamin levels, which are both important for healthy hair growth.
Is that all?
No! Actually, researchers also believe it plays a role in opening the scalp’s potassium channels (22). This delivers more potassium to the follicles, and can contribute to its positive results.
So, can it be used to grow hair on a bald spot?
Sure, but it’s not a method I would recommend.
Minoxidil is a drug that must be used continuously. Once you stop, the bald patch will return (and maybe even more hair loss with it).
Finasteride is a prescription-only tablet, more commonly known under the brand name Propecia. It can only be used by men, so isn’t a viable option for women looking to combat hair loss.
The drug works by inhibiting 5AR (the enzyme I mentioned earlier). As a result, less DHT is produced, so not as much is able to attach to the hair follicles.
This is the more direct treatment option of the two, but it’s also one with major side effects.
DHT blockers are notorious for causing problems with libido and sexual performance, and finasteride is no different.
It can also cause depression, headache, and dizziness.
Would I recommend finasteride to anyone?
While the drug may work temporarily, the side effects just aren’t worth it (23). You’d also be required to take the drug for the rest of your life, as once you stop the hair loss will return.
How to NATURALLY Regrow Hair On a Bald Spot
As a hair loss sufferer, I’m no stranger to the many treatments on the market. And while I’ve tried finasteride myself (with disastrous results), I switched to natural regrowth techniques and never looked back.
So, what do I recommend you do to regrow hair on a bald spot?
Perform Daily Scalp Massages
If minoxidil’s vasodilating effects interest you, you’ll be happy to know you can achieve the same results with a cheaper (i.e. free) alternative.
What is it?
This manual technique uses your fingertips (or a scalp massage tool) to stimulate the scalp and increase blood flow to the area. It can also reduce stress (another trigger for hair loss) and release tension.
But is there scientific proof of its benefits? You bet!
In 2016, researchers from Hong Kong studied the effects of scalp massage on men (24). More specifically, they wanted to know whether inducing stretching forces to DPC would improve their health and be beneficial in hair growth.
And the results?
The participants who received four minutes of scalp massage per day for 24 weeks saw an increase in hair thickness when compared to their baseline measurements:
To get started, I recommend this simple routine:
Using your thumb, middle, and index fingers, place each hand on either side of your scalp. Apply gentle pressure, and begin to massage in a circular motion.
You can stay in this area for 1 – 2 minutes, and then slowly make your ways towards the crown.
As you do so, you can always backtrack to previous areas if you’d like.
Continue on the crown for 1 – 2 minutes, and then move towards the hairline. Begin at the center, and slowly work out to the temples. You can go back and forth between the center and temples for 1 – 2 minutes, and then slowly return to the sides of the scalp.
Finally, bring your hands to the back of the scalp.
You can (and should!) complete this routine on a daily basis. It should take a minimum of 10 minutes.
Stop Using Chemical Shampoos and Hot Water
There are plenty of shampoos on the market, and many that even claim to reverse hair loss. But what did the majority of them have in common?
Chemicals and preservatives.
These chemicals – while beneficial in protecting the ‘freshness’ of the product – provide no real benefits for your hair and scalp. In fact, they can even cause long-term damage and hair loss.
But what’s the alternative?
There are a few all-natural options on the market, including our own Grogenix. You can also make your own shampoos!
With the right ingredients, you can still cleanse the scalp. But you’ll also be able to stimulate hair growth and even soothe irritation and inflammation.
What ingredients can achieve all of the above?
So, what about hot water?
While most people enjoy steaming hot showers, these can cause dryness, irritation, and inflammation of the scalp. If you’re already susceptible to hair loss, this will just speed up the hair fall and increase the size of your bald spot.
This is why I recommend taking lukewarm or cold showers.
These will have less impact on the scalp, and will put less strain on the hair strands. And cold showers can even leave you with a softer, more manageable mane!
Utilize Low-Laser Light Therapy
In short, Low-Laser Light Therapy (LLLT) is a technique that uses laser pulses to stimulate the hair follicles.
This treatment methods works in two major ways (25):
- It stimulates epidermal stem cells; and
- It promotes anagen phase hair growth.
It may also work to reduce inflammation (a result of DHT sensitivity, or perhaps a scalp infection), though this hasn’t been definitively proven.
Over the years, a few research studies have been performed on the efficacy of LLLT. These include 2 in vitro, 7 animal, and 12 clinical studies – all of which were featured in a 2016 literature review (26):
And while LLLT is commonly used in doctors offices, you can also use this treatment at home.
There are various devices – including combs, wands, and caps – that make it possible to apply LLLT to the scalp without the assistance of a medical professional.
This may be beneficial in regrowing your bald patch by stimulating the stem cells and prolonging anagen phase of the targeted follicles.
Alter Your Diet
The foods you eat can play a large part in hair loss.
In fact, there’s even more to your diet than just nutritional intake (though, this is important).
What else should you consider?
The pH balance of the foods you eat!
Foods to Avoid
Acidic foods can alter your body’s pH balance, which then enables 5AR to activate (27, 28). Why? Because 5AR Type 2 has been shown to function optimally in an acidic (5.5 pH) environment (28, 29). This will lead to the production of more DHT, which is particularly harmful to those with AGA.
So, which foods should you avoid?
- Carbonated beverages
- Red meat
While it may be hard to remove or limit these foods at first, it’s one of the best things you can do for your hair’s health.
Foods to Eat Instead
Since acidic foods can tip the pH balance in the wrong direction, it makes sense that alkaline foods are the ones you should be eating instead.
- Flax seeds
- Lima beans
And the easiest way to add these foods into your diet is with smoothies and juices! These are delicious, nutrient-packed options that are great for a quick breakfast, or even an afternoon pick-me-up.
Use a Dermastamp
At this point, you may have realized just how important blood circulation is to hair growth. That’s why I’m going to offer another way to increase blood flow, and that’s the dermastamp.
The dermastamp is a microneedling tool which has a flat surface with dozens of tiny needles attached. To use it, you apply it directly to the balding area on your scalp, and apply gentle pressure.
As the microwounds heal, the healing process will increase the production of collagen and hair follicle cells.
The healing process draws additional blood to the area, and it’s been shown to be even more effective than minoxidil alone (30):
To use the dermastamp, I recommend you follow this three-step process:
- Clean the scalp.
- Use the dermastamp.
- Apply an after-session cream.
You can learn more about the process, and how to do it most effectively, here.
Can I Use a Wig in the Meantime?
While you work to treat the cause of balding, you may be tempted to try some immediate ‘solutions’. One of those is a wig, or toupee.
Wigs have been around for thousands of years, and they can be used to easily cover up any bald patches or thinning hair. But they can also look unnatural, and they may be more hassle than they’re worth.
Are there alternative options?
You could always consider a hair building fiber, such as Caboki or Toppik. These use electrostatic charges to adhere to the hair strands. They can then create a thicker look, but can’t be used in areas of complete and total balding.
If you choose to go for an ‘easier’ solution, hats, then just be sure to wear them sparingly. Remember that traction alopecia does exist, and even areas of balding can be agitated by constant hat wearing.
Hair loss is often a slow process, and one that takes place of several years. However, the development of a bald spot can mean further hair loss is in your very near future.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent further balding and even regrow hair on your bald patch. And best of all, the natural treatment options are just as effective (and sometimes even more so) than the medications and chemical options often recommended.