What is hair loss?
Male hair loss is a very common condition, affecting around 6.5 million men in the UK. It usually starts with a little thinning of the hair at the temples. The hairline will then recede and a sparse patch will appear on the top of the head. The hairline may then meet the patch, revealing the whole scalp. But is there a way to stop or prevent hair loss?
Male hair loss (also known as male pattern baldness or ‘androgenic alopecia’) is usually genetic, although it can also be caused by extreme stress, illness, side effects to medical treatment, a major life event, skin disorders or hormone imbalance. The hormone testosterone is converted into DHT, which causes hair follicles to shrink. Hair production subsequently slows down or even stops altogether.
It’s worth noting here that there is no correlation between the level of normal testosterone and baldness.
How can I stop hair loss?
In the last couple of decades there have been several developments in the fight to stop hair loss. Perhaps most notable is the widespread success of Propecia. This is a tablet containing the active ingredient finasteride, which prevents and even reverses male hair loss.
Propecia is a tablet which is taken once a day. The finasteride it contains inhibits the conversion of testosterone into DHT, thereby slowing or even reversing the hair loss process.
You can order Propecia or its cheaper alternative, generic finasteride, through our LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor service, meaning that you don’t have to book an appointment or go to a clinic.
How effective is finasteride in stopping hair loss?
Finasteride helps prevent hair loss and increase hair growth. It is particularly effective among those who show mild to moderate hair loss.
While the effectiveness of finasteride often depends on the length of time it is taken, the available evidence suggests that two thirds of men who use it see some hair regrowth.
Although no immediate effect may be seen after your first month of taking finasteride, it is highly recommended that you stick with it for a few months as long as you suffer no adverse reactions.
An expert panel of dermatologists at Merck & Co. found that it takes at least three months to slow down hair loss, six months to grow new hair, and as long as 12 months to verify whether the treatment is effective for you.
Even though the struggle to stop hair loss may be a long battle, the good news is that more than 90% of those taking finasteride and assessed by the aforementioned panel reported seeing desirable results (prevention of further hair loss and, in some cases, regrowth). While the effectiveness of finasteride often depends on the length of time it is taken, the available evidence suggests that two thirds of men who use it see some hair regrowth.
If you stop taking finasteride, it is likely that any hair you gained will be lost within 9-12 months.
What are the side effects of taking finasteride?
In rare cases finasteride may cause a skin rash, erectile dysfunction, less desire for sex or tenderness in the nipple area. If you do experience these side effects, they may well disappear quickly as your body gets used to finasteride. If you are at all concerned about the side effects you should stop taking the treatment and consult a doctor.
For more information on solutions for hair loss, visit our blog article on hair growth treatment.