Hair loss FAQs
- What causes hair loss?
- Who is most likely to suffer from hair loss?
- Is stress a factor?
- What should I do if I think I am suffering from hair loss?
- What medications are available to treat hair loss?
- What are the likely side effects of using Propecia and other DHT inhibitors?
- Is hair loss hereditary?
- Once I lose my hair, will it ever grow back?
- Is there anything else I can do to stop hair loss?
- Can surgery treat male hair loss?
Hair loss (male pattern baldness), or androgenic alopecia as it's more commonly known, is the slow degradation of hair and hair follicles around the scalp. It is the most common form of hair loss.
Hair loss is most common amongst men over 35, although it has been known to occur in men much younger than their thirties. Male pattern baldness follows the same pattern in most men: first developing as a patch around the crown of the head, and then thinning out at the temples around the forehead.
Stress can have an impact on hair loss. Psychological issues such as anxiety, depression and stress are all known to have a role in men losing their hair.
Hair loss also occurs in men because of hormonal changes to the DHT (dihydrotestosterone) hormone which affects hair follicles. This hormone can shrink the hair follicles and render them inactive; they are alive but are unable to grow and replenish the hair.
Hair loss is a genetic problem which means there is currently no cure to detract from or limit its effects. However, there are various other types of treatments that can be used to treat, prevent and even encourage hair regrowth. It is important to act early if you think you are suffering from hair loss and speak to a doctor straight away for a professional diagnosis.
Minoxidil (Regaine) is the best and most well-known product available for men to buy over-the-counter. Regaine comes as a topical cream which is applied and then rubbed into the crown of the head. Available to buy in both 2% and 5% minoxidil concentrations, Regaine needs to be applied twice a day for up to a year for maximum benefits.
Propecia is one of the most well-known and successful prescription hair loss treatments in the world. Studies have shown that Propecia can stop hair loss in 99% of men and allow two thirds of men to experience significant hair growth. Propecia is taken as a tablet everyday and side effects are uncommon; a low 2% of men who take Propecia may experience a temporary loss of libido.
Propecia is often used by men who report no side effects whatsoever. However, there are people who on rare occasions experience some negative effects of taking this medication. Commonly reported side effects include reduced libido and more watery semen, excess oil on the face and skin with accompanying spots and pimples and a mild testicular ache. It is important to note that these types of side effects are rare and even if you do experience them, they will pass in a relatively short period of time.
Androgenic alopecia is a genetic condition which is hereditary. It is usually passed down from either parent and on rare occasions can skip a generation. Although the gene responsible for hereditary hair loss has not been discovered, it is widely believed that a gene called EDA2R has a significant impact on hair loss in men.
Complete hair loss in men is the result of hair follicles dying and becoming inactive. Once this transition has taken place, you cannot utilise hair loss treatment to grow new hair as the hair follicle no longer exists.
There are treatments available, however, which stop the process of hair follicles dying and can encourage them to start re-growing new hair. You are therefore advised to act fast at the first signs of hair loss, and start using a hair loss treatment before it's too late.
Although there is no easy answer, it is important to realise that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, zinc and vitamins B-12 and B-7 can help you to delay the onset of hair loss. It is also known that vitamin A can help to promote hair growth as it works with your scalp to produce a natural oil.
There are various ways in which surgery can be used to help treat hair loss. Three common surgical procedures can be offered to those who are suffering from male pattern baldness:
- flap-surgery is where a part of unaffected scalp is cut and stretched to cover the area which has been affected;
- scalp reduction is where a small balding patch is removed and the remaining unaffected scalp is stretched over it;
- a hair transplant involves moving hairs from unaffected areas and planting them in areas which have been affected for them to continue to grow.