Hair follicle miniaturization is a technical term for hair thinning or balding.
This process, which most commonly affects men, causes the hair follicle to constrict, making it harder for the hairs to grow.
This means that the follicle, which once produced healthy hairs, starts making thinner hairs with a fragile shaft that can easily fall out. This looks like a receding hairline, thinner hair on top, or a bald spot.
There are medications and surgeries available that may help treat or even prevent hair miniaturization.
Hair miniaturization can be caused by:
- the hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
- a combination of all three factors
DHT is a male sex hormone known as an androgen. It’s derived from testosterone, and it can also cause hair loss.
Older people are more likely to experience hair miniaturization and male pattern baldness.
Baldness is an X chromosome gene, so if your mother’s father experienced hair miniaturization, you’re more likely to also experience it. But it can also pass from the father’s side.
Signs of hair loss and hair miniaturization include:
- a receding hairline
- thinning hair at the crown or top of the head
- more hair than usual on the pillow or in the shower drain
- hair loss after brushing or combing
- a widening part
There’s no truly scientific test to determine if you’re experiencing or will experience hair miniaturization.
However, many doctors or dermatologists may “grade” the hair using the Norwood scale. They may also perform what’s known as the pull or tug test, which you can try at home too.
To do the pull test:
- Grab a section of hair (about 60 hairs) and hold it with two hands, one at the root and one at the tip of the hair.
- Gently pull upward to see if any of the strands break or fully come out.
- If more than three strands fall out, it may indicate hair miniaturization.
A doctor may also perform a blood test if they suspect the hair loss is caused by an underlying medical condition.
If you suspect your hair is thinning, you may want to take photos of the top of your head every month to see the progress.
Natural remedies for hair loss include:
- Viviscal. This natural hair-growth supplement contains minerals, vitamins, and shark and mollusk powder.
- Ginseng. This supplement may stimulate hair follicles, causing hair growth.
- Rosemary oil. This oil can be mixed with a carrier oil and massaged into the scalp. Rosemary is especially helpful at treating male pattern baldness. You can even mix a few drops in with your shampoo and conditioner. Just don’t apply the oil directly, as it can burn.
- Geranium oil. This oil can increase circulation to the scalp, which is also how some of the prescription treatments slow balding.
- Biotin. This supplement may strengthen hair, but won’t necessarily help regrow hair.
- Saw palmetto. This berry plant may help improve hair loss, though more research is needed.
- Lifestyle changes. Certain changes like quitting smoking and eating a healthier diet may also help slow hair loss.
There are clinical treatments available to treat or help slow hair follicle miniaturization. These include:
- Minoxidil. This FDA-approved drug also goes by the brand name Rogaine. The drug is a vasodilator, meaning it widens the blood vessels and increases their size. More blood can then reach the scalp, which is said to help hair loss.
- Finasteride. This is also an FDA-approved drug that’s known as Propecia. Propecia works by lowering the levels of the DHT hormone.
- Hair transplants. These procedures include follicular unit transplantation (FUT) and follicular unit extraction (FUE). While slightly different methods, these transplants work by removing hair follicles from the back of the head, then transplanting them to areas where hair is thinning.
- Laser treatments. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) may reduce inflammation in the hair follicles, so they can widen.
If you’re looking to slow hair loss, it’s best to speak with a doctor as soon as you see signs of hair thinning. You have a better chance of slowing hair loss if you begin treatment before you lose the hair.
It’s much easier to hold onto hair before it’s gone than to regrow hair that’s already been lost.
You should also see a doctor if your hair loss seems drastic and sudden, as this could indicate a more serious medical condition.
Hair follicle miniaturization is when the hair follicle constricts, making it harder for hair to grow. This means that the follicle, which once produced healthy hairs, starts making thinner hairs with a fragile shaft that can easily fall out.
The effects of hair follicle miniaturization include a receding hairline and balding.
There are supplements, medications, and natural remedies that may slow the process of hair follicle miniaturization.