You finally committed to growing out your hair. But months later, your locks seem stuck at the same middling length. What gives?
There are many potential causes of stunted hair growth. The key is identifying the factors in your unique case and customizing the proper treatment plan.
In this comprehensive guide, I’ll share my decades of trichology expertise on determining exactly why your hair growth is stunted and how to get those strands sprouting again.
You’ll learn how to assess genetic and lifestyle factors, perform tell-tale diagnosis tests at home, correct nutritional deficiencies supporting healthy hair, optimize topical treatments for your hair type, and alternative growth options if needed.
Table of Contents
With the right strategic approach, you can overcome the obstacles and achieve your longest, strongest hair yet. Let’s get to the root of the problem!
What Causes Hair Growth to Become Stunted?
Before we can fix stunted hair elongation, we need to understand all the various reasons growth may slow or stop. Here are the most common culprits:
Your hereditary hair length, thickness, and growth cycle duration set biological limits. Growth slows as you reach your genetic terminal length.
Changes in thyroid, sex, or stress hormones alter the hair growth cycle, potentially shortening time spent in active growth phase.
Lacking key vitamins and minerals causes metabolic imbalances that impair follicle function.
Trauma, harsh processing, tight hairstyles causes inflammation and permanent follicle damage, preventing growth.
Certain conditions like autoimmune disorders, skin conditions, or alopecia attack and miniaturize follicles halting growth.
Drugs like blood thinners, cholesterol medications, antidepressants, and chemotherapy agents may list hair loss as a side effect.
As we age, blood circulation slows, hormone levels change, and oxidative damage accumulates slowing hair production.
Now that you know what factors can potentially put the brakes on your hair growth, let’s go over ways to determine which ones apply to your unique situation.
Diagnosing the Cause of Your Stunted Hair Growth
To customize the right treatment plan, start by evaluating:
Look at hair length, thickness and growth patterns in close family members to gauge what your genetic terminal length range likely is.
Make note of any drugs you take that list hair thinning, shedding, or stunted growth as potential side effects.
Consider Major Events
Think about if hair changes correlate to significant health events like major stress, postpartum changes, onset of disease, or supplement/diet shifts.
Analyze Timeline and Pattern
Note if stunted growth was gradual over time, sudden, or patchy in areas which provides clues.
Feel for areas of severe split ends, breakage or scalp sensitivity indicating past damage preventing growth.
Examine Scalp and Follicles
Use a magnifying glass and flashlight to check for signs of inflammation, redness, or flaking which signify problems.
Take Hair Measurements
Measure a sample of hair width and rates of growth over a few months. Calculate percentage of anagen vs telogen hairs. Healthy ratios promote optimal elongation.
Do a Hair Pull Test
Gently tug on small sections of hair to calculate daily shedding rates. Too high may indicate deficiencies or disorders impairing follicle anchoring.
Analyzing these various factors guides you in choosing the proper growth remedies. Next, let’s cover ways to determine if deficiencies are the culprit.
Testing for Nutrient Deficiencies Contributing to Stunted Hair
One of the most common yet reversible causes of impaired hair growth are nutritional deficiencies. Here are at home methods to check your levels:
Symptoms of fatigue, brittle nails, or spoon shaped nails may indicate low ferritin stores. An at home blood spot test can quantify your levels. Optimally ferritin should be 70-80 ng/mL.
White spots on nails may signal zinc deficiency. Request a zinc taste test from your doctor or purchase an at home zinc assay kit which measures via hair or saliva.
Splitting, brittle hair and nails suggests low biotin. A simple at home urine analysis strip estimates your current biotin levels. Or ask your doctor for a quantitative blood test.
Since our main source is sunlight, have your physician check a 25-OH blood vitamin D level if you get limited sun exposure or have fatigue, mood changes or frequent illness. Optimally aim for levels between 60-80 ng/mL.
Frequent hair shedding can mean inadequate protein for constant renewal. Ask your doctor to run a serum protein panel looking for reductions indicating deficiency.
Testing nutrient markers lets you identify concrete deficiencies contributing to growth issues which can then be corrected through proper supplementation.
Expert Tip: Identify Nutrient Deficiencies Stunting Your Hair Growth
Targeted at home nutrient deficiency tests offer an affordable, non-invasive option. Check for iron, zinc, biotin, vitamin D and protein levels if concerned stunted growth may be nutrition related. Correcting deficits can help get your hair sprouting again. Discuss options with your physician.
Now that you know how to check for nutritional shortfalls impairing your hair health, let’s go over proven ways to optimize intake.
How to Correct Nutrient Deficiencies Hampering Hair Growth
Once you’ve identified any specific nutritional deficits causing stunted hair growth, here are effective strategies to correct them:
Increase iron-rich foods like red meats, shellfish, legumes, dark leafy greens, and iron-fortified cereals. Pair foods high in vitamin C to enhance iron absorption. An iron supplement may be recommended especially for those at higher risk of deficiency like menstruating women.
Consume more zinc-rich oysters, meat, nuts, seeds, eggs, dairy, beans, and whole grains. Limit coffee and high-fiber foods around dose times which impair absorption. Supplements can restore optimal levels.
Boost biotin intake consuming more egg yolks, fish, meat, seeds, nuts and avocado. A daily biotin supplement helps ensure you meet ideal daily levels for hair growth.
Increase vitamin D by allowing short sun exposure without burning, eating fatty fish, fortified dairy, and vitamin D mushrooms. Those deficient will require prescription strength D3 supplementation.
Aim for lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, seeds and legumes with each meal to meet protein needs consistently. Whey protein supplements provide an absorption-enhanced convenient option.
Adequately nourishing hair follicles and correcting specific deficiencies removes a major roadblock to optimizing growth. Now let’s discuss ways to stimulate the process.
How to Stimulate Your Hair Follicles to Grow Faster and Longer
Once you’ve addressed any nutritional deficiencies, consider adding the following methods shown to enhance circulation to hair follicles, extend time spent in the growing phase, and boost rate of growth:
Massaging stimulates blood flow to provide nutrients to hair follicle cells. Using essential oils enhances benefits. Do a 5-minute daily scalp massage for best results.
Onion juice contains growth factors sulfur and quercetin which prolong anagen (growth) stage. Apply fresh onion juice to your scalp and hair 30 mins before washing 2-3 times per week.
Rosemary oil boosts circulation in the scalp and has anti-inflammatory antioxidant benefits. Add several drops to your shampoo or do a weekly rosemary oil scalp masque.
Protein treatments like rice water or hydrolyzed wheat help reinforce hair, reducing breakage so more growth can be retained.
Weekly hot oil, towel steaming or heating cap treatments improve penetration of oils and actives into follicles.
Gently exfoliating weekly sloughs off dead skin cells and product buildup so treatments better penetrate. Use small circular motions.
Cardio exercise increases blood flow including to the scalp. Aim for 20-30 minutes daily to deliver oxygen and nutrients to follicles.
Strategically stimulating your follicles and scalp optimizes the environment for your strands to reach their maximum growth potential.
Expert Tip: Enhance Scalp Circulation and Blood Flow
Improving blood circulation in the scalp ensures hair follicles receive plentiful oxygen and nutrients for optimizing growth. A daily scalp massage, weekly exfoliating scrubs, rosemary essential oil, and cardio exercise promote enhanced scalp blood flow leading to better elongation.
Now that you know how to rev up cellular activity in your follicles, let’s discuss ways to retain every millimeter of growth.
Growing Your Hair Longer: Retaining Maximum Length
Once your hair starts actively growing again, retaining all the new length comes down to two key strategies – hydration and protection:
Use a weekly moisturizing hair masque. Look for hydrating ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil, honey, avocado, silk proteins and hyaluronic acid. Comb through daily leave-in conditioners focusing on ends.
Protect Those Strands
Always sleep on a silk pillowcase. Use gentle handling and wide tooth combs. Avoid excess heat styling. Handle hair when damp not wet. Seal ends with oil.
Trim every 6-8 weeks to nix splits. Avoid tight hairstyles that pull on follicles. Use microfiber towel and air dry mostly. Limit use of bleach or chemical processing.
Watch the Weather
Extra hydration and moisture-sealing oils help fend off dryness in winter. Use protective styles, UV filtering products during summer sun exposure.
Take a Supplement
Consider a vitamin-enhanced supplement for hair and nails that contains biotin, collagen, keratin and antioxidants for stronger strands less prone to breakage as they grow.
Getting your hair to gain length relies both on optimizing active new growth and preserving every millimeter through deliberate damage prevention and deep conditioning care.
Expert Tip: Preserve Hair Length By Preventing Breakage
Half the battle of achieving longer hair is protecting delicate strands from breakage and splits as they get longer. Sleep on silk pillowcases. Handle gently. Limit heat styling. Use microfiber towels and wide tooth combs. Trim regularly. Prioritize deep conditioning to boost strength.
Next let’s discuss when it’s time to seek an expert’s advice.
When to Talk to a Doctor About Stunted Hair Growth
While many causes of shortened hair can be addressed with the strategies we’ve covered, it’s important to involve a doctor if you notice:
- Sudden patchy hair loss
- Hair thinning or shedding along with other unexplained symptoms
- No improvement after 4-6 months implementing growth remedies
- Hair loss following major illness or body stresses
- Scalp inflammation, pimples, redness, flaking or itching
- Family history of autoimmune hair disorders like alopecia areata
A dermatologist can diagnose the underlying issue through exams and tests, then provide prescription medications or tailored treatment plans as needed.
Catching conditions early and getting the right diagnosis makes a big difference. Now let’s look at medical treatment options.
Medical Treatments That Can Kickstart Hair Growth
If your stunted hair is not responding sufficiently to home care after 4-6 months, your dermatologist may recommend:
This topical over-the-counter or prescription solution helps open potassium channels allowing more nutrients into follicles. It also prolongs the active growth phase.
Low Level Laser Therapy
Cold laser devices used at home or in office treatments stimulate cellular activity in follicles and increase blood flow. Enhances results of other therapies.
Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP)
Injections of concentrated growth factors from your own blood have been shown to activate stem cells and boost follicle proliferation and activity. A series is required initially.
This diuretic also has an anti-androgen effect that counters the follicle-shrinking impacts of DHT and testosterone to encourage regrowth.
A low-dose oral minoxidil prescription has been shown to help improve growth in cases of severe genetic hair loss or alopecia unresponsive to topical treatments alone.
Latisse prescription drops contain the active bimatoprost which prolongs anagen phase and can encourage growth in stubborn cases.
For patchy alopecia areata caused by autoimmune inflammation damaging follicles, targeted corticosteroid shots calm the localized attack so hair can regrow.
Consult your physician or dermatologist to explore prescription medical options tailored to your unique situation and hair loss profile if you’ve been struggling to get your hair sprouting on your own.
Expert Tip: See a Dermatologist for Persistent Thinning or Shedding
If self-care strategies don’t improve stalled hair growth after 4-6 months, make an appointment with a dermatologist. They can diagnose underlying disorders through exams and testing and provide prescription medications like spironolactone or topical treatments to help kickstart stronger regrowth. Catching issues early makes a difference.
Now that we’ve covered ways to optimize natural hair growth, let’s discuss options if that fails.
Alternative Options if Your Hair Won’t Grow
For those dealing with severely genetically stunted hair, or conditions like alopecia where medical treatments alone are inadequate, take heart there are cosmetic options to achieve your desired length:
Both permanent strand-by-strand and temporary methods like clip-ins or tapes can add dramatic length and volume quickly with salon application and maintenance.
From synthetics to human hair, customized wigs allow selecting your perfect color, cut and length. Partial wigs just boost thinning areas. Options range from affordable to high end.
These mini partial wigs blend with your bio hair for seamless coverage just in areas that need help with building volume or covering temporary thinning.
Surgical hair transplantation involves redistributing active follicles from fuller areas of your scalp to restore growth in thinning spots. Several procedures are required.
This cosmetic tattooing replicates the look of short buzzed hair in balding areas. Matches your natural hair color for camouflage. Multiple sessions typically needed.
Don’t lose hope – with determination and patience, there are solutions to achieve your hair goals through boosting your natural growth or utilizing alternative hair additions.
Thriving with Healthy Hair that Keeps Growing
I hope you now feel equipped with all the knowledge needed to get to the bottom of your stunted hair growth frustrations. By methodically assessing causes, testing for deficiencies, incorporating growth-enhancing treatments, and involving medical expertise when beneficial, you can overcome the obstacles.
Patience through the process is key. Our hair only lengthens gradually at a pace of .5 to 1.5 inches monthly. But small consistent gains add up with time.
Commit to nurturing healthy happy hair and retaining every millimeter. Consistent TLC leads to flowing locks! Remember, I’m here to answer any other stalled hair growth questions. Let me know how your hair journey progresses.
FAQs About How to Fix Stunted Hair Growth
Here are some quick answers to common questions about fixing stagnant hair growth:
Why is my hair growth stunted?
Genetics, hormonal shifts, nutrient deficiencies, medications, follicle damage from harsh styling, autoimmune disorders, and aging factors can all potentially stunt hair growth. Seeing a trichologist or dermatologist helps determine your unique causes.
What am I lacking if my hair isn’t growing?
Deficiencies in iron, zinc, biotin, vitamin D and protein are common nutritional culprits of impaired hair growth. At home testing and adding targeted supplements can help correct deficits promoting healthier hair.
How can I stimulate my hair to grow longer?
Scalp massage, essential oils like rosemary and onion juice, protein treatments, heating methods to increase circulation, exercise, exfoliating, and taking biotin supplements are all ways to energize follicles for enhanced growth.
Does rice water grow hair?
Yes, rice water contains amino acids that reinforce hair shafts making them less prone to breakage as they grow longer. It also contains inositol to cleanse and stimulate the scalp. Use as a weekly rinse for stronger, shinier hair.
What is the most difficult hair type to grow?
Highly coiled and kinky 4c hair is the most fragile and prone to snapping and tangling as it lengthens. Extra moisturizing, protective styles, gentle handling, silk pillowcases and trimming help maximize growth.
I hope these quick tidbits help summarize the key steps to unleashing your hair’s maximum growth potential. Let me know if you need any other stalled hair growth troubleshooting!