What is male pattern baldness?
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.
What causes male pattern baldness?
Male pattern baldness is a genetic disorder which 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 through this website (Propecia and Finasteride) contain the same active ingredient (finasteride), and 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 severe stress, side effects of medical treatments, shock, illness, hormone imbalance, nutritional deficiencies and smoking.
Male hair loss symptoms
Male pattern baldness begins with a receding hairline, followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples until the bald patches meet.
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.
Male pattern baldness treatment
There are currently two medicines in the UK endorsed by the NHS as viable treatments for male pattern baldness. 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.
Taken correctly (one tablet a day, every day), finasteride can be extremely effective in reversing the effects of male pattern baldness. In one study, 90% of men who took finasteride once a day for six months stopped their hair loss, and two thirds even experienced regrowth of lost hair.
Finasteride is not a permanent solution to hair loss, so any positive effects will be reversed if treatment is stopped. If you are suffering from male pattern baldness and are interested in taking Propecia, visit our secure online hair loss clinic.
How effective is Finasteride at treating hair loss in men
The effectiveness of Finasteride often depends on the length of time it is taken, but 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, and if you stop taking it the hair loss process will resume.
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 has to be rubbed into balding areas of the scalp every day to have an effect upon 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.
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.
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.
Female pattern hair loss treatment
Female pattern hair loss, like male pattern baldness, is a hereditary condition, and for some women will be a natural part of ageing. Find out about hair loss and the menopause here.
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.
Can hair loss be cured?
There is no cure for hair loss. 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? If so, you can register with us and seek 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 or collected from your local LloydsPharmacy store, depending on the option you choose.