Can Red Light Therapy Prevent Hair Loss?
Hair grows almost everywhere on our bodies, with the exception of the eyeballs and soles of our feet. The average human head has between 100 000 to 150 000 hair follicles.
While hair should naturally grow at a rate of approximately 6 inches (around 15 cm) a year, this isn't always the case. Hair growth can be affected by factors such as age, lifestyle, and disease.
Abnormal rates of hair loss, known as alopecia, can affect both men and women. There are many types of alopecia, that include:
- Androgenic alopecia – affecting both men and women, with a higher prevalence in men. This results in receding hairlines and gradual hair loss from the crown of the head.
- Involutional alopecia – natural thinning of hair with age as a greater number of hair follicles enter the resting phase for longer periods of time.
- Alopecia areata – patchy, random, hair loss, most commonly seen in children and young adults.
For decades, there have been countless remedies that promise to restore thinning and balding heads, often with little success. From drugs to surgical treatment, to tattoos and hair weaving.
Some of these may encourage growth of the remaining hair, but there is currently no treatment that is able to replace a full head of hair. The few FDA-approved pharmaceuticals on the market also come with a list of side effects.
Device-based treatments, such as red light therapy, have come into investigation as a safe method of stimulating hair growth.
How does it work?
Once the light is applied to the scalp, the pockets of energy (called photons) held within the wavelengths of light travel to the mitochondria within the cells.
This leads the increased energy (ATP) production within the hair cells, allowing them to function better.
Clinical studies have shown that red light therapy is able to:
- Keep hair follicles in the anagen (growth) phase for extended periods of time. This has been linked to the stimulation of the mitochondria within stem cells in hair follicles.
- Reduce inflammation in the body – where high levels have been linked to female pattern baldness.
- Encourage blood flow to an area (the scalp in this case), resulting in easier oxygen access by the mitochondria in the hair follicles. More oxygen means better functioning mitochondria, and this results in a greater anti-inflammatory effect.
One study found that doing red light therapy every second day, for just 16-weeks, resulted in a 35% increase in hair growth.
Thousands of clinical trials have also shown that red light therapy has no major side effects or risks, and is safe for daily use.
So, what have you got to lose? Definitely not more hair!
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Written By: Caroline Bursey