What is alopecia?
Alopecia is the medical term for hair loss. Most commonly affecting males, hair loss in men is caused by an increased sensitivity to the male sex hormones (androgens). The type of alopecia you have (as well as hereditary and external factors) can influence levels of hair loss. The most common type of hair loss (alopecia) is male and female pattern baldness. Other types include:
- Alopecia areata (patches of baldness, usually on the scalp)
- Scarring alopecia (hair loss directly affecting the hair follicles)
- Telogen effluvium (hair thinning over a larger area on the top of the head, rather than bald patches)
- Anagen effluvium (most commonly caused by cancer treatments such as chemotherapy and radiotherapy)
Hair loss causes
Whilst specialists find it difficult to pinpoint the actual reasons for hair loss and thinning hair, some medical professionals attribute it to genetics based on hair follicles being more sensitive to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
Other possible hair loss causes
- Hormonal imbalance
- Illness and infectious diseases
- Depression and anxiety
- Toxic substances
What is dihydrotestosterone (DHT)?
Dihydrotestosterone is a 5α-androstan-17β-ol-3-one and more commonly referred to as DHT for ease. It works by shrinking hair follicles, eventually causing them to become so small that they cannot replace lost hairs. The result is permanent hair loss.
Hair loss symptoms
The main symptom is the loss of hair from the scalp, however, depending on the type of hair loss and accompanying cause(s), you may experience different varying symptoms.
For male pattern baldness – medically known as androgenic alopecia – this follows a typical pattern that can often result in permanent loss of hair. In most cases, the remaining hair will be thin and will not grow back as quickly as it used to.
The first sign of the condition is a receding hairline, with the hair on top of your head beginning to thin, making the skin on your scalp more visible. Eventually, the areas of baldness will join to create a horseshoe shape. Male pattern baldness develops gradually with the appearance of a bald spot on the crown of the scalp together with thinning of hair at the temples. It's the most common type of hair loss among men of all ages. The stages of male pattern baldness are detailed below.
For more information on the specific types of hair loss, please check out our comprehensive guide.
Treating hair loss
If your hair loss is a result of cancer procedures, such as chemotherapy, more specific treatment is available, however, there are other types of treatment for male hair loss:
- Prescription medication
- Herbal treatment
- Surgical treatments
Another option is wigs, which are available on the NHS at a cost depending on the cause of your hair loss.
Clinically proven medication Propecia is a popular choice to help combat male pattern baldness. This is the only treatment available on prescription in the UK and has been confirmed to be highly effective for over 99% of men. It also encourages new hair growth, with over two-thirds of men experiencing significant hair regrowth after taking the treatment.
Herbal treatments and over-the-counter methods may not have a high effectiveness rate, especially in comparison to medically proven studies associated with Propecia, however, some find this option to be the most compatible for them. For example, shampoo made specifically for hair loss can be successful for men and women. As with all chronic conditions, surgery is always the last resort and should be deeply considered with your doctor.
Preventing hair loss
Whilst there is no cure for alopecia, hair loss is a long-lasting chronic condition linked to genetics, there are a number of options that can help you treat the various types to stop further hair loss from occurring and even encourage hair regrowth.
Many turn to prescription medicines as these are proven to be effective for the vast majority of men, and there are other options to explore as well.
Stop hair loss
The following lifestyle tips may not be guaranteed to prevent hair loss, but can improve the quality of your hair follicles and hair itself to also make medication even more effective.
- Follow a healthy and balanced diet - Hair follicles are made up of proteins and because of this, specialists recommend that you fit plenty of protein in to your diet. Beans are a major source of protein, as are fish, soya, dairy, cheese and nuts.
- Avoid certain shampoos – Some hair care products contain chemicals that can be harmful for delicate hair. For this reason, it may be best to choose organic shampoos.
- Fit calcium in your diet – Calcium has also been hailed as a preventative vitamin for hair loss and can make your hair stronger, thicker and generally healthier.
- Over the counter treatments - Minoxidil lotion (Regaine) is a lotion that can be purchased to treat male pattern balding. This has to be applied straight to the scalp, which can be inconvenient. Also, results aren't visible until a few months after using Minoxidil lotion and it can only be used for genetic / hereditary hair loss specifically.
- Pack up on the vitamins - Vitamin B in the form of B3, B5, B6 and B12 works to produce thicker, healthier hair and can be found in foods such as apricots, cabbage and egg yolk. Vitamin C is also great for hair loss, allowing the blood vessels in the scalp to carry more blood to your follicle roots. Vitamin A is good for stimulating hair growth because it helps your scalp to produce the natural oil called sebum.
Hair loss is a common condition that many men obtain treatment for. Using highly effective medication that stops hair loss and even encourages hair growth can increase confidence and is a popular option for most. Over-the-counter treatments are available and can be effective, however, at OnlineClinic, we provide only clinically proven UK medication. In this case, Propecia is the only medical treatment to treat male pattern baldness and is proven to stop hair loss within three months. To order Propecia 1mg in the UK, you must complete a quick consultation to be issued a prescription. You can do this online for free with no obligation at OnlineClinic, or for more information, visit our Propecia page.