Hair Loss


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Hair Loss

What is Male-pattern Baldness?

Hair loss is quite common and is often the result of genetic and lifestyle factors, however other causes of hair loss, such as alopecia, may be caused by illness or stress. There are various types of hair loss, the most common of which being Male-pattern Baldness (androgenic alopecia), which is a genetic disorder affecting 50% of all men by the age of 50. Male pattern baldness is when the hairline starts to recede and the hair growth starts to thin at the crown and temples.

Causing significant hair loss in up to 6.5 million men in the UK, male-pattern baldness can start in teenage years and is usually apparent by the age of 40 in a large proportion of men. Hair loss and male-pattern baldness can cause emotional distress and even depression, especially when the onset of the condition starts at a younger age.

How is Hair Loss diagnosed?

Most of the time, male-pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia) is self-diagnosed without the need of consulting a doctor. As it is a genetic condition, it's likely that a family member (father, grandfather or uncle) has also suffered hair loss and your condition will follow a similar pattern. The onset of the condition is usually slow and therefore difficult to notice straight away and will only be recognised when a significant amount of hair has been lost. If treatment is desired, then it should be started as early as possible to increase the likelihood of it's effectiveness. If you are concerned about your hair loss, your GP should be able to perform a diagnosis but simply examining your scalp. This will help identify and confirm which type of hair loss you are suffering.

How can Male-pattern Baldness be treated?

Male-pattern baldness is usually only treated for cosmetic purposes as it doesn't pose any threats to your health. Although there are no cures for hair loss or baldness, there are treatments available that can help prevent further hair loss and also encourage new growth. The two most effective hair loss treatments which are available in the UK are Propecia (finasteride) and Regaine (minoxidil). Neither of these treatments are available through the NHS and will have to be purchased privately. The earlier you diagnose male-pattern baldness and start treating it, the better, as the treatments are more effective as a preventative measure. The two treatments available on Quickmeds are DHT blockers known as Type II ‘5-alpha reductase inhibitors’.

Finasteride (Propecia)

Finasteride (branded name, Propecia) is used to treat hair loss and you are required to take a 1mg tablet once a day. Your body normally converts the hormone Testosterone to Dihydrotestosterone which causes hair follicles to shrink. Finasteride (Propecia) blocks this conversion, allowing the hair follicles to remain their normal size. It is also said to actually increase the amount of hair growth, making the hair look fuller. Treatment is usually required for 6 months to reverse the hair loss, and then continued to ensure this reversal. If the treatment is stopped, hair loss will likely resume within 6-12 months.

Minoxidil (Regaine)

Minoxidil is an over-the-counter topical foam which is applied to the scalp (roots of hair) twice a day. The way minoxidil works is not fully understood, however it increases blood flow to hair follicles which reduces hair loss and stimulates new growth, producing thicker and more visible hair. Treatment is usually required for a few months, but some consumers have experienced results in as soon as 8 weeks. It is important to remember that everyone’s bodies are different and if results are not seen as soon as you'd hoped, you just need to remain patient. However, it is advised that you continue with the treatment for 6-12 months before deciding to stop or continue taking Minoxidil.

How can I prevent Male-pattern Baldness?

Sometimes it can seem like hair loss is out of your control, especially if it is due to genetic factors, which can be frustrating and distressing. The best approach is start preventative measures and treatments as early as possible and taking good care of your hair, scalp and diet. We recommend:

  • Reducing how much heat you expose your hair and scalp to, for example intensive hair drying.
  • Reducing how much hair dye you expose your hair to (try switching to semi-permanent hair dye).
  • Reducing the amount of styling products and procedures you use on your hair.
  • Washing your hair regularly using a mild shampoo.
  • Avoiding brushing wet hair.
  • Avoid vigorously drying and rubbing hair with a towel, instead use a soft cloth or a t-shirt to pat the hair and head dry.
  • Washing your hair regularly using a mild shampoo and avoid brushing when the hair is wet.
  • Avoiding rubbing vigorously with a towel when drying. Instead, gently pat dry.
  • Avoiding stress where possible.
  • Getting plenty of sleep and exercise.
  • Considering stimulating the scalp with a weekly scalp massage.