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Is Your Hair Falling Out?

A man pulls his hair and looks concerned

For most people, the prospect of losing their hair is a terrifying one. Hair is seen as a symbol of beauty and health, and those who go through hair loss can often feel embarrassed, unattractive and even depressed.

Nevertheless, hair loss is extremely common with 50% of men over 50 suffering from the most common form: male pattern baldness. This is a genetic condition characterised by hair loss from the front and crown of the head. Other forms of hair loss include female pattern baldness, alopecia areata, telogen effluvium and alopecia universalis.

Why is my hair falling out?

Male Pattern Baldness

If you are a man and your hair is falling out from the front and crown of your head, then it is very likely that you are suffering from male pattern baldness. This condition is caused by the hormone DHT, which is a form of testosterone. DHT attacks the hair follicles, breaking them down and making them weaker. This eventually leads to widespread hair loss in the typical "U-shape" around the scalp.

Men who suffer from male pattern baldness typically do not lose the hair at the back of their head, and this makes it easy to recognise as a condition. Male pattern baldness is a permanent condition with no cure, but there are several long-term treatments.

Other Reasons for Hair Falling Out

Alopecia areata is a condition caused by problems in the immune system. Alopecia areata is easily recognisable because it causes the hair to fall out in patches. This type of hair loss often clears up on its own, with hair growth returning to normal after a few months. However in some cases, it may require treatment. If your hair is falling out in patches then please consult your doctor.

Female pattern baldness is a genetic condition similar to male pattern baldness. Women suffering from female pattern baldness also lose the hair from the top of the head.

Medical treatments such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy and immunotherapy can also lead to hair loss. This type of hair loss is known as anagen effluvium, and is characterised by hair falling out all over the body. The good news is, this type of hair loss typically reverses a few months after the medical treatment has stopped.

Stress or illness can also cause hair to fall out or thin. This type of hair loss is known as telogen effluvium, and also tends to be temporary.

How can I stop my hair from falling out?

Obviously the best solution will depend on the cause of your hair loss. If your hair loss might be caused by stress or alopecia areata then it is likely this is a temporary issue that will naturally resolve over time. If you are concerned please see your doctor.

However if your hair loss follows the typical description of male pattern baldness above, there is no lasting cure. But there are two clinically proven treatments that are very effective in halting or even reversing hair loss.

Propecia (finasteride)

Propecia is a prescription tablet containing the active ingredient "finasteride". It is taken every day by men suffering from male pattern baldness and is effective in 90% of men (it cannot be used by women). This treatment stops hair falling out by preventing the hormone DHT from attacking the hair follicles.

Once you have stopped taking Propecia, you can expect your hair loss to resume within a few months. For this reason, it cannot be seen as a cure, but as an effective long-term treatment.

Regaine (minoxidil)

Regaine is a product available without prescription in high street pharmacies and online. It comes as a lotion or foam, and must be rubbed into balding areas of the scalp every day to be effective. Regaine can be taken for male pattern baldness and female pattern baldness, however it is not as effective as Propecia for men. Regaine was shown to stop hair loss and promote regrowth in 60% of men and 88% of women. Once you have stopped using Regaine, any new hairs will be lost and hair loss will resume as normal within a few months.

To learn more about hair loss treatments, visit our online hair clinic.