I've spent five years looking for the right hair loss treatment and this is the best news I've heard so far
Having gone through countless shampoos and conditioners, oils and other bizarre baldness treatments only to see the enemy advance further each year, I am on the verge of just ripping my thinning hair out - and scientists are now saying that could be how to keep my remaining hair.
Research from the University of Southern California (USC) claims that plucking hairs can actually stimulate the growth of new hair, according to the results of a study published in Medical News Today.
The USC team plucked exactly 200 hairs from the backs of (presumably balding) mice in a circular pattern designed to stimulate hair growth.
The mice then regenerated hair follicles at a rate of anywhere from 450 to 1,300 each, the study found.
"By plucking hairs in the way we designed in the paper, we can make the population feel stress, then it will enter the regeneration phase all together as a population. If you just pluck one single hair that is not enough of the distress signal," the paper explained.
In other words, the plucking of hairs causes inflammation in the area surrounding the ripped out hair follicle. The subject area is then stimulated by inflammatory proteins that regenerate hair follicles. This led to the growth of more hair.
The process through which plucking hairs stimulates follicle regeneration is called "quorum sensing," according to the paper.
This may sound crazy, but other hair loss treatments follow a similar logic. Ingredients such as peppermint oil are included in highly concentrated oils under the pretense they stimulate the follicles.
Frequent scalp massages meant to stimulate the scalp are also believed by some to regrow hair.
The use of oils, shampoos, conditioners has, at times, made my scalp tingle but given me no additional hair.
Scalp massages feel great, but also have not grown any more hair.
Minoxidil, by far the most popular hair loss treatment in the US, encourages hair growth through a far different mechanism. Proponents of the topical ointment claim it widens blood vessels and other pathways to allow more oxygen and proteins to reach the follicles and stimulate hair growth. But it is effective for only about 40% of people.
Plucking hairs has yet to be tried on humans, but at least one expert believes it may work:
"That's the million-dollar question. I'm not sure. As it stands here, you've got to have some hair to pluck." a hair growth expert told Medical News Today. "Could you tap into the pathway with a cream or injection? That could well be possible - or maybe don't wait until you're totally bald?"
I fortunately still have hairs to pluck. Where do I sign up to be a test subject?
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