Treatment for hair loss
What causes hair loss?
Before considering how to stop hair loss, it is important to understand what causes male pattern baldness in the first place. Male pattern baldness runs in families and is triggered by a specific gene. Men with this particular gene have more sensitive hair follicles (the organ that produces hair). As a result, the following changes occur in their scalp:
- Hair follicles become smaller, causing the new hair to grow thinner.
- Hairs are shed long before their usual three year lifespan.
- Eventually just a tiny hair follicle remains and hair growth ceases.
- Typically hair is lost from the sides of the forehead and top of the scalp. Instead bald patches grow and join to leave just a patch of frontal hair, which over time may also thin. The hair that remains at the back and sides may also fall out.
While male pattern hair loss won’t affect your physical health, it can potentially impact upon your mental well being, even leading to depression and anxiety. Exploring treatment options early can minimise this problem.
You can visit our online hair loss clinic, or read on for an overview of hair loss treatments.
Hair loss treatment options
Hair loss medication
Currently the British Association of Dermatologists advocates only two medicated treatments approved to treat male pattern baldness. These are finasteride tablets (brand name Propecia) and minoxidil lotion (brand name Regaine). Neither offers a complete cure but both can slow hair loss and promote regrowth.
Propecia (see also, generic finasteride) is a prescription medication, taken once daily. It blocks production of the hormone that causes your hair follicles to shrink. This treatment is proven to treat hair loss on both the top and front of your head. However, while you may notice visible results in 3 to 6 months of taking Propecia, you are advised to continue treatment for at least 12 months to confirm whether it is effective for you. You must then continue taking Propecia to maintain the effects.
Regaine is available without prescription, meaning you don’t need a GP to approve you. It is applied twice daily to your scalp. Although less effective than Propecia, Regaine can aid hair regrowth in some men within 3 months. As with Propecia, any hair regrowth will be lost once treatment is stopped. If any skin problems affect your scalp or you suffer from a heart condition, you may be unable to use Regaine. In such cases you should consult your doctor or pharmacist.
Stopping hair loss naturally
Some people prefer trying to stop hair loss without medication. The herbal supplement saw palmetto is a common natural hair loss treatment. Tentative studies link this natural plant extract with hair loss prevention. However saw palmetto is not yet clinically proven to stop or reverse hair loss.
Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies can contribute to hair loss. However supplementing these have not been shown to help hair growth in male pattern baldness. Similarly, hair tonics containing the amino acid L-Arginine aren’t proven to help: in fact L-Arginine can raise testosterone levels which may actually worsen your hair loss.
Wigs and hairpieces obviously won’t prevent hair loss but do offer an effective substitute. They look remarkably natural; no side-effects is also a bonus. Nowadays wigs and hairpieces come in a wide range of colours and styles so you should easily find your natural match – or perhaps a new look! Wigs are available made from natural or synthetic hair.
Hair transplants for hair loss
Some men opt to combat their hair loss with a hair transplant – including celebrities such as Callum Best and Wayne Rooney. Although hair transplants are becoming increasingly effective, they are extremely costly and success still isn’t guaranteed. The process is relatively straightforward.:
A small section of your scalp (usually the back of the head) containing plenty of hair is removed and divided into individual hairs. These individual hairs are grafted into parts of your scalp where you have lost hair. The surgery achieves a natural appearance by placing finer hairs near the front of your scalp and thicker hairs at the back.
Typically you will only need local anaesthetic and no stitches. Regrowth takes around 6 months to appear and full results at about a year. Some people, will need more than one session.
Professional advice on how to stop hair loss
If you wish to explore hair loss treatment options that are suitable for you, you can receive professional advice from our clinicians. Our confidential online consultations allow you to get the advice and information you need, without the pressure of a face-to-face appointment. You can collect prescribed medications from your nearest LloydsPharmacy, or have it delivered the following day.