In this article:
- What are topical retinoids?
- What are they used to treat?
- Can topical retinoids cause hair loss?
- What can you do to stop hair loss?
What Are Topical Retinoids?
Topical retinoids are a class of medication derived from vitamin A. These medications can come in the form of creams, lotions, foams, gels, or emulsions. Retinoids work by activating certain genes that help in the formation of specific skin cells, called keratinocytes. Thus, their primary role is to help treat skin conditions that may benefit from new skin cells formation.
Examples of medications that are retinoids include:
What Are They Used To Treat?
Retinoids are used primarily to treat skin conditions like cystic acne and problems related to aging. For example, many people will use them on their faces to treat wrinkling and dark spots that can occur as you get older and with excess sun exposure. Many retinoids are FDA-approved to treat skin conditions and are even found in cosmetic products.
There are some side effects to retinoids that people must be aware of before using this class of medications. For example, people may experience:
- Photosensitivity, where they become highly susceptible to sunburn
- Worsening eczema because it causes drying
- Flaking skin
These medications also have a teratogenic effect, meaning that pregnant women cannot take these medications.
Can Topical Retinoids Cause Hair Loss?
Some anecdotal evidence also suggests these medications cause hair loss. However, there is little concrete evidence at this time to suggest that retinoids like tretinoin can cause hair loss.
What studies we do have are small and look at actually using retinoids like tretinoin in combination with minoxidil to help with hair growth. Unfortunately, studies on using topical retinoids for hair growth are minimal, which begs for further research on this topic.
So, if you are using a topical retinoid to treat a condition like acne, it is unlikely to cause hair loss. Still, it is possible based on some personal experience some people have had while using these medications. However, anyone experiencing hair loss should explore all factors that may be leading to hair loss (which can include medications) and take steps to treat it right away. As you may well know, the sooner you start treating hair loss, the better.
What Can You Do To Stop Hair Loss?
If you are struggling with hair loss, you will want to take action against hair loss right away.
As noted above, your first step is to figure out what is causing your hair loss. One of the most common causes of permanent hair loss in both men and women is androgenic alopecia. The sooner you start treating this condition, the better, as it is harder to treat severe hair loss. Other things that may lead to hair loss include telogen effluvium (a temporary form of stress-related hair loss), new medications, scalp infections, and autoimmune disorders.
Once you have tried to identify what is causing your hair loss, you will want to take steps to treat it. One of the most effective ways to treat hair loss is to use a hair regrowth product like minoxidil, which has been used for hair loss since the 1950s. Minoxidil is effective at stopping hair loss related to DHT sensitivity and other forms of hair loss like androgenic alopecia.
With that said, newer alternatives are on the market. These formulas can be better at penetrating deeper into your hair follicles without the unpleasant side effects and greasiness that can accompany minoxidil. For the best hair regrowth formulation, look for 5% Nanoxidil in a hair regrowth product. This proprietary formula uses nanosome technology to get deeper into your skin to:
- Block DHT sensitivity
- Increase circulation to your hair follicles, and
- Reduce inflammation.