- What Is Red Light Therapy?
- Understanding the Slow Process of Hair Growth and the Impact of Red Light Therapy
- The Bottom Line
Hair loss is one of the most common aesthetic problems. Studies show that one-fifth of young adults face this issue. However, the prevalence of this problem increases with age, affecting the majority of adults above the age of 50.
Despite being such a common problem, hair loss is highly challenging to manage or reverse. This is because hair loss occurs due to different reasons. It could be due to hormonal issues, genetics, autoimmune disorders, nutritional deficiencies, and more.
Some of the leading hair loss types are:
- Androgenetic Alopecia– causes patterned hair loss. It is a hereditary condition, and hair loss occurs due to higher production of dihydrotestosterone in hair follicles.
- Telogen Effluvium– causes diffuse hair loss, possibly due to hormonal changes, pregnancy, vitamin deficiency, medications, thyroid disease, stress, and more.
- Focal Hair Loss- mainly occurs due to alopecia areata, an autoimmune disorder. Sometimes, it may also occur due to fungal infection.
A good thing about red light therapy is that it can help in most instances. This is because it promotes hair regrowth. Of course, red light therapy would be even more effective when used along with other treatments.
For optimal results with light therapy, it's crucial to address the root cause of the condition. Simultaneously, you can benefit from using red light therapy to promote hair growth.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Humans are constantly exposed to light, so how does red light differ? Well, that is the basics of physics. Red light has a longer wavelength, and thus, it can penetrate deeper inside the tissues. Contrary to high-frequency light, red light is also safe.
Red light or infrared light is also suitable for managing musculoskeletal pains. It works by reducing spasms and enhancing local blood flow.
Since red light can promote local blood flow and influence local metabolic processes, it has many other usages. One such use is stimulating hair growth. Researchers now think its benefits are not just due to heat energy and enhanced local blood flow.
It appears that red-like or photobiomodulation works in many other ways. It may boost the production of local enzymes, enhance cellular communication, boost intake of nutrients, increase cell growth and migration, induce transcription factors and thus protein production, counter inflammation, suppress cytokine production, enhance growth factors, and boost tissue oxygenation.
In recent years, researchers have also started exploring the role of red light in influencing certain hormones. For example, some researchers propose that red light may enhance melatonin production, boost the production of antioxidants like glutathione, and more.
Red light therapy works by:
- Enhancing local blood flow & tissue oxygenation
- Improves the production of antioxidants
- Boost intake of nutrients
- Counters local inflammation
- Enhances the production of growth factors
Understanding the Slow Process of Hair Growth and the Impact of Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy may promote hair regrowth in multiple ways. What is incredible about this therapy is that it can help irrespective of the cause of hair loss. It means that such a therapy is beneficial for most hair loss cases.
However, one must remember that hair growth is a slow phenomenon. It means that for any treatment to work, one must continue using it for months, preferably years. The safety of red light therapy makes it perfect and safe for prolonged use.
There are several stages of hair growth: anagen (growth phase), catagen (transition), telogen (resting phase), and exogen (shedding). This whole cycle for each hair follicle lasts for months/years. You can learn more about hair growth cycles here.
Since red light can stimulate hair growth, it shortens all stages of hair growth. It means that hair starts growing faster. However, it also shortens the resting and shedding stage. It means that if someone starts using red light therapy, they may experience increased hair shedding initially. However, this is not a cause for worry; it only means the treatment is working.
In recent years, there has been lots of research into the effectiveness of red light for managing hair loss. Most studies show that red light is suitable for promoting hair growth. Red light therapy is equally good for promoting hair growth in men and women. Learn more about red light therapy by reading this research study.
In another study, researchers tested red light therapy in 47 females experiencing severe hair loss and even baldness. They treated patients with light therapy for 16 weeks. After treatment, most patients reported significant hair growth. The results were much better than those not receiving red light therapy. Overall, researchers noted a 37% increase in hair growth.
The above results are incredible in many ways. It is worth understanding that 16 weeks is not a very long period, as hair grows very slowly, and the hair growth cycle lasts for years. It means that one may experience much more significant benefit by using red light therapy for 6-months or more.
In another study, researchers tested red light therapy for hair growth in androgenetic alopecia patients. It is the most common reason for permanent hair loss. It is a very difficult-to-treat condition. Medications like finasteride and minoxidil may help, but they only help moderately and cause several side effects. In the study, researchers found that 24 weeks of red light use made a significant difference by promoting hair regrowth in the patients. Moreover, the therapy did not cause any side effects. You can read more about this clinical study here.
The Bottom Line
It would be correct to say that red light therapy is one of the safe yet effective ways to promote hair growth. What is impressive about this treatment is that it is effective irrespective of the cause of hair loss.
Treating hair loss with medications is quite challenging, as the causes of hair loss differ. There are very few effective ways of promoting hair regrowth. Moreover, any method to promote hair regrowth must be safe for prolonged use, as human hair grows slowly over the months and years.
Red light therapy is not just effective; it is a well-tested therapy. Numerous clinical studies confirm that red light therapy is an effective and safe way to promote hair regrowth.
 Rhodes T, Girman CJ, Savin RC, et al. Prevalence of male pattern hair loss in 18-49 year old men. Dermatol Surg. 1998;24:1330–1332.
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 Yeager RL, Oleske DA, Sanders RA, et al. Melatonin as a principal component of red light therapy. Medical Hypotheses. 2007;69:372–376.
 Lin X, Zhu L, He J. Morphogenesis, Growth Cycle and Molecular Regulation of Hair Follicles. Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology [Internet]. 2022 [cited 2023 Oct 10];10. Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fcell.2022.899095.
 Avci P, Gupta GK, Clark J, et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) for treatment of hair loss. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 2014;46:144–151.
 Lanzafame RJ, Blanche RR, Chiacchierini RP, et al. The growth of human scalp hair in females using visible red light laser and LED sources. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. 2014;46:601–607.
 Kim H, Choi JW, Kim JY, et al. Low-Level Light Therapy for Androgenetic Alopecia: A 24-Week, Randomized, Double-Blind, Sham Device–Controlled Multicenter Trial. Dermatologic Surgery. 2013;39:1177.
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