Information about hair loss cures
Hair loss is a very common condition. One of the most common types if hair loss is male pattern baldness, and for lots of men it’s a natural part of ageing. Nearly all men will have lost some hair by the age of 60, but around half of men will have significant balding by the time their 50.
Women also experience hair loss, again this can be a part of ageing, but its not quite as common as in men. It’s estimated around 40% of women will have experienced female pattern baldness by the age of 70.
There are also lots of other types if hair loss that affect men and women. But despite different types of hair loss being so common, there’s still no ‘cure’ as such for hair loss. However, there are lots of treatments available that can help treat the condition in the long term.
In this article we’re going to look at those treatments that can help hair loss. And why we should consider them effective long-term treatments rather than ‘cures’.
What causes hair loss?
The causes of hair loss can be complex, and then tend to depend on the type of hair loss you have.
Common causes of hair loss include:
- Genetics (male and female pattern baldness are largely hereditary)
- Iron deficiency
- Cancer treatment
- Weight loss
Types of hair loss
Male pattern baldness
Male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss, affecting up to half of all men over the age of 50. It is characterised by a receding hairline, and the thinning of the hair on the temples and crown. This type of hair loss typically does not affect the hair on the sides or back of the head.
Male pattern baldness is caused by the male hormone DHT and usually begins to affect men in their late twenties or early thirties - although some men begin to experience it at an even earlier age.
Female pattern hair loss
Female pattern hair loss is similar to male pattern baldness in the sense it tends to be a hereditary form of hair loss. It’s also the most common form of hair loss in women.
Hair progressively becomes thinner, lighter and shorter until the follicles stop producing hair all together. This is down to a combination of genetics and hormones.
Alopecia areata (sometimes just called alopecia) is a type of hair loss that causes patches of (usually temporary) hair loss. Patches are usually circular, and they typically appear on the scalp and for some men, the beard.
Alopecia areata is an autoimmune disease, meaning the body’s immune system is attacking itself rather than fighting off germs. Cells from the immune system attack the hair follicles, which causes the hair to fall out.
Unlike male or female pattern baldness, the hair affected by alopecia areata tends to grow back after a few months.
Stress-related hair loss
There are a variety of types of hair loss that can be exacerbated by stress.
- Alopecia areata, which we have already touched on, can be triggered by a period of severe stress.
- Telogen effluvium occurs when something pushes the hair follicles into a ‘resting phase’, this interrupts the usual hair growth cycle, causing the hair to fall out. This trigger can be illness, a traumatic event or a period of stress.
- Trichotillomania is a type of hair loss which happens when you continuously pull at your hair. This hair pulling can be a reaction to stress, negative feelings or tension among other emotions.
Can hair loss be cured?
As we’ve discussed, hair loss affects a lot of people but there’s cure yet. You might have heard of treatments like Finasteride/Propecia and minoxidil/Regaine, and while these can help treat certain types of hair loss they’re really effective long-term treatments, not cures.
These treatments have been proven to delay and even reverse the effects of hereditary hair loss. But they’ll only work when used continually, if you stop, your hair loss will return.
Treatments for hair loss
Finasteride and Propecia
The most effective treatment for male pattern baldness currently available in the UK is finasteride, also commonly known in brand form as Propecia. Though Propecia and the generic version "finasteride" are not available for free on the NHS, they can be obtained through a private prescription.
Finasteride comes in the form of a tablet and works by inhibiting the formation of DHT, a hormone which permanently damages hair follicles. They are only appropriate for use as a male pattern baldness treatment and must be taken once a day for three to six months for the effects to be seen. In one study, 90% of men with mild to moderate hair loss saw positive effects after taking finasteride for six months, with hair loss stopping and in some cases even reversing. Finasteride is therefore very effective while it is being taken, but will not continue to have an effect after treatment has ceased. Around a year after you have finished taking Propecia or finasteride, you can expect your hair loss to have resumed and any hair regrowth to have fallen out. For this reason, they are not cures so much as effective ongoing treatments.
Minoxidil is a similar treatment to finasteride and is also available in the UK as a generic or as the well known brand-name Regaine. Minoxidil can be bought over the counter, unlike Propecia or finasteride, and comes in the form of a lotion, foam or cream that is rubbed into the scalp every day.
It's thought that around 9 in 10 men will see positive effects when using Regaine extra strength foam. And in a 48-week study, 60% of men who used Regaine Extra Strength solution reported regrowth. As with Finasteride, any beneficial effects will stop once treatment has stopped.
It is also suitable for use by women, and can be used to treat alopecia areata.
Is it safe to buy hair loss treatments online?
It can be safe provided you use registered, regulated healthcare or pharmaceutical services. LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor offers both Propecia and finasteride for men suffering from male pattern baldness through a safe and discreet online prescription service. You can also order Regaine through our online shop or in one of our pharmacy stores. And we now also have an non-prescription hair loss bundle which contains minoxidil, hair loss shampoo and biotin.
It’s worth bearing in mind that hair loss shampoos and supplements aren’t necessarily a worthwhile expenditure if you are suffering from hair loss. Though they may help to improve the look, health and quality of your hair, it is unlikely they will halt hair loss or stimulate regrowth.
You should also be very wary of buying so-called 'miracle hair loss cures' from unregulated sites. The products they are offering may be cheap, but if they have not been prescribed to you legally by a medical professional then they could be detrimental to your health.
For more information about Propecia and Finasteride, and to see if you're medically suitable, visit our online clinic here.