Cures for Hair Loss?
Hair loss is something that affects a huge proportion of men, and yet unfortunately there is no cure. Though you may have heard of certain medicines such as Propecia (finasteride) or Regaine (minoxidil), it is far more accurate to think of these medicines as effective long-term treatments. There are interesting experimental options being trialled currently, yet these established treatments can be effective at preventing hair loss in up to 90% of men.
Male pattern baldness
Male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss, affecting around 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.
Is there a baldness cure?
Unfortunately there is currently no permanent cure for male pattern baldness. However, there are treatments that are proven to delay and even reverse the effects of male pattern baldness, with continual use. Below is a list of the most clinically effective treatments:
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 3-6 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. Minoxidil is less effective than finasteride (only 60% of men who used Regaine Extra Strength reported regrowth after 48 weeks) but is still a viable option for men seeking treatment. It is also suitable for use by women, and can be used to treat alopecia areata. However, as with finasteride, any beneficial effects will cease once treatment has stopped.
Are there cures for other types of hair loss?
Along with male pattern baldness, there is also a condition known as female pattern baldness, in which hair thins on the top of the head. Less is known about this type of hair loss, but it is more common in women who have been through the menopause. Female pattern baldness cannot be treated with finasteride (as with male pattern baldness), but it can be treated with minoxidil. Minoxidil is rubbed into the scalp once or twice a day and should start to show results after about four months. After ceasing treatment with minoxidil, hair loss should resume within a few months.
Another type of hair loss is alopecia areata, in which hair on the head (and sometimes on the body) falls out in patches. In most cases this type of hair loss resolves itself within a few months, however in some cases it can lead to more severe forms of hair loss such as alopecia totalis (loss of all hair on the scalp) or alopecia universalis (loss of all hair on the body). Alopecia areata is most common in people aged 15-29 and there are various treatments for it: minoxidil, corticosteroid injections, topical corticosteroid creams or lotions, dithranol cream, immunotherapy and light therapy. However none of these can be thought of as a cure for alopecia areata, as they are only temporary solutions.
To learn more about the treatment options available for hair loss, you can read this guide.
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, and you will be able to order minoxidil or Regaine through our online shop or in one of our pharmacy stores.
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.