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    What is male pattern baldness?

    On this page
    1. What causes male pattern baldness?
    2. How common is hair loss in men?
    3. Symptoms of male pattern baldness
    4. Medical treatment for male pattern baldness
    5. Alternative male pattern baldness treatments
    6. Pattern baldness in women
    7. Is there a cure for male pattern baldness?
    8. Get medical advice online

    Reviewed by Dr Bhavini Shah​​​​​​​

    Male pattern baldness gets its name from the pattern of hair loss that men often experience. It is also known as 'androgenic/androgenetic alopecia' or simply 'male hair loss'. Frequently, the first sign of male pattern baldness is a receding hairline, followed by a gradual thinning of the hair and then more widespread hair loss.

    In this article we’ll explore what causes male pattern baldness and what treatments are available.    

    What is Male Pattern Baldness?

    What causes male pattern baldness?

    Male pattern baldness is a genetic disorder. Studies have estimated that approximately 80% of male pattern baldness cases are caused by genetics. The genes that make someone more susceptible to hair loss are passed on from both sides of the family.

    Male pattern baldness causes the hormone testosterone to be converted into DHT. DHT has an adverse effect on hair follicles (also known as the hair roots) and subsequently slows down, causing hair to fall out or even stops hair production altogether.

    The hair loss treatments available at LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor (Propecia and Finasteride) contain the same active ingredient (finasteride). They work by blocking the effect of DHT on the hair follicles. 

    Other causes of male hair loss

    Male hair loss can also be caused by:

    How common is hair loss in men?

    Baldness in men is a very common condition, affecting around 6.5 million men in the UK. Most men will experience male pattern baldness to some degree by the time they are in their 60s. Other men will experience it as early as their 20s and 30s.

    Around half of women aged 70 years or over will experience female pattern baldness. It’s the most common type of hair loss. Similarly to men it’s also inherited. 

    Symptoms of male pattern baldness

    Male pattern baldness is a pattern of hair loss:

    1. It begins with a receding hairline
    2. Followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples
    3. Eventually these bald patches meet 

    Find out more by watching our video below:  

    Medical treatment for male pattern baldness

    “Losing your hair can be upsetting for many men. It’s usually not something to worry about and many men embrace the change. However, there are treatments available for male pattern baldness which can help stop hair loss and allow hair to regrow.”  Dr Bhavini Shah

    There are currently two treatments for male pattern baldness in the UK. These treatments are finasteride and minoxidil. 

    Finasteride (i.e. Propecia)

    Finasteride is a prescription medicine used in the treatment of male pattern baldness. It is the active ingredient of the popular branded hair loss tablet Propecia. It is also available as a generic medicine, under the label Finasteride.

    Finasteride/Propecia comes as a tablet and should be taken every day with no breaks. It works by reducing the conversion of testosterone to DHT, or reducing the levels of DHT, which helps to stop the hair from falling out. Finasteride can only be taken by men suffering from male pattern baldness. It is not suitable for women suffering from baldness, or for anybody suffering from other types of hair loss. 

    How effective is Finasteride at treating hair loss?

    Taken correctly (one tablet a day, every day), finasteride can be extremely effective in reversing the effects of male pattern baldness. The effectiveness of Finasteride often depends on the length of time it is taken. The evidence available suggests that 90% of men who use it see an improvement, while two thirds will benefit from renewed hair growth.

    Finasteride is particularly effective in men who are experiencing mild or moderate hair loss.

    You will probably have to take Finasteride for at least 4 months before you see any effect. Finasteride is not a permanent solution to hair loss, so any positive effects will be reversed if treatment is stopped.  

    Minoxidil (i.e. Regaine)

    Minoxidil is another treatment that has been proven to reverse hair loss in men suffering from male pattern baldness. Unlike finasteride, minoxidil is not a prescription treatment. You can buy minoxidil in high street pharmacies and online. It is most often available under the brand name Regaine.

    Minoxidil comes as a lotion or foam. It must be rubbed into balding areas of the scalp every day to affect hair loss. It can be used by men and women who are suffering from hereditary hair loss, and is also sometimes prescribed as a treatment for alopecia areata. However, if you are suffering from alopecia areata (where the hair falls out in patches), you should visit a doctor. You should not self-medicate with shop-bought minoxidil.

    How effective is Minoxidil at treating hair loss?

    When used every single day, minoxidil can be very effective at reversing hair loss in men with male pattern baldness. However, it is not quite as effective as Finasteride (Propecia). One study showed that using minoxidil 5% solution led to improvement in 60% of men who used it, compared to 90% of men who used Finasteride over 5 years.

    You can use minoxidil with Finasteride and you can use minoxidil alongside other non-prescription hair loss treatments

    Alternative male pattern baldness treatments

    Aside from prescription tablets and hair loss foams, there are other options to help male pattern baldness. These include:

    Specially formulated shampoos

    Hair growth shampoos like caffeine or DHT blocking shampoo can be used on their own or alongside hair loss treatment. There’s little scientific evidence on their effectiveness, however they work to stimulate hair growth, stop hair loss and keep hair healthy. Find out more about caffeine shampoo.

    Hair transplants

    While hair transplants aren’t the first choice for lots of people, as they tend to be expensive and involve a surgical procedure. But they can be an effective solution for male pattern baldness. The procedure involves moving hair from an area that has lots, to an area that is thinning or bald.  

    Find out more about hair transplants here.  

    Wigs and toupees

    Wigs and toupees won’t prevent hair loss but they can create a more natural look. Available in a range of styles and colours, they’re growing in popularity, especially on social media. There are hair stylists who specialise in applying and then styling semi-permanent toupees and wigs.  

    Pattern baldness in women

    Women can also experience baldness and thinning hair. Female pattern hair loss, like male pattern baldness, is a hereditary condition. For some women will be a natural part of ageing and something they experience during the menopause. Find out about hair loss and the menopause.

    Unlike men, women can’t treat hair loss with Finasteride. But you can use minoxidil, and it’s proven to be fairly effective. Regaine for women is one of the most popular brands and is available in a lotion or foam.   

    Is there a cure for male pattern baldness?

    There is no cure for male pattern baldness. Some hair loss is temporary and the hair will grow back. For those experiencing male pattern baldness, treatments like Finasteride and Propecia can help halt hair loss and in some cases stimulate regrowth. However it’s worth bearing in mind, as soon as you stop treatment the hair loss will begin again. 

    Get medical advice online

    Does the thought of talking to a doctor face to face about hair loss make you feel uncomfortable? You can register with us for professional advice from our GPs without having to step into a clinic or book an appointment. 

    Propecia, Finasteride and our other hair loss bundles and products can either be delivered to your home, collected from your nearest participating pharmacy or ParcelShop.


    Navigating male pattern baldness can feel dauting for some, but there are hair loss treatments that can help. Whether you’re looking for over the counter bundles or prescription treatments, there are ways you can slow down and even stop your hair loss.

    If in doubt speak to your GP or if you’re registered with us, you can message our clinicians in your Patient Record.    


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