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Male Hair Loss Treatments & Advice

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  • Will I lose my Hair?

    Two out of every three men in the UK will experience male pattern baldness to some extent. Family history can be a strong indicator of your chances of losing your hair. Hair loss tends to be linked to the mother’s side of the family, so you are most likely to lose your hair at a similar age to your maternal grandfather.

    Race is also a factor: for example, Caucasian and Afro-Caribbean men have a much higher rate of male pattern baldness than do East Asian men.

  • How can I tell whether I am losing my Hair?

    Some men are excessively paranoid about hair loss. Others may be in denial, and so do not accept their own hair loss for several years. Either, it can be difficult to objectively identify hair loss, especially because baldness tends to occur very slowly.

    Generally, though, you or someone else will notice that your hairline has gradually receded or that your hair has thinned. You may also notice that hair is coming out in the shower or on your pillow.

  • How can I tell if I have Male Pattern Baldness?

    Male pattern baldness is characterised by a loss of hair on the top of the head. It does not affect the back or sides of the hair. The pattern of hair loss can occur starting at the crown, the hairline, or both.

  • Is there a cure for Male Pattern Baldness?

    No, there is no cure. Other causes of hair loss may, however, be reversible.

  • Can Baldness be prevented?

    Male pattern baldness cannot be prevented, though there are treatments and techniques which may delay baldness or suppress the symptoms.

  • Do women experience Pattern Baldness?

    Women tend to lose hair when they are especially sensitive to DHT in the scalp. This most often happens during and following the menopause, due to the decrease in female hormones and relative increase of male hormones such as DHT. This hair loss does not occur in the same pattern as it does for men, and is rarely as severe. Changes in hormones that lead to hair loss could be caused by thyroid disorders and should be checked by a medical professional. This can also cause weight gain.

    Pregnant women, who have increased levels of progesterone, may experience some hair loss. The progesterone causes hair follicles to briefly stop. Again, this is only temporary.

    Women with a deficiency of iron called anaemia can suffer from hair loss. This can be reversed with a diet with sufficient iron.

  • What is Minoxidil?

    Minoxidil is the only lotion that is approved in the UK to treat hair loss. Its trade name is Regaine. It tends to take up to four months to take effect. Start by using the weaker 2% lotion – only move on to the stronger 5% lotion if you do not notice any improvement after three months. For about one-third of men, Regaine will be ineffective. Only one-third of Regaine users will see a full regrowth of hair on bald patches. The remaining third will have some regrowth, but it will be finer and thinner than their natural hair.

    Even for men who do not see regrowth after using Regaine, they will likely notice that further hair loss has stopped. However, baldness will continue if you stop using the lotion.

    Regaine must be purchased from a pharmacy when a licensed pharmacist is present but does not require a prescription. A month’s supply of Regaine usually costs about £30 – be careful not to pay significantly more over the internet for Regaine or an equivalent. A pharmacist will ensure that you can safely take Minoxidil. It may be unsuitable if your blood pressure is high.

  • What is Finasteride?

    Finasteride tablets prevent hair loss by inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme involved in converting testosterone to DHT (discussed below).

    You can get a private prescription for Finasteride from your GP or dermatologist – it is not available on the NHS. Finasteride was formerly sold as Propecia or Proscar. These patents expired in recent years, meaning that the tablets have decreased in cost.

    2% of Finasteride users experience side effects including impotence, reduced libido and reduced semen production. These will tend to go away once you stop taking the tablets.

    Finasteride and Regaine have shown to have similar rates of effectiveness, though there is no definitive comparative study of the two treatments. Within six months of stopping either treatment, symptoms of male pattern baldness will resume.

  • What other treatment options are available?

    The action of DHT can be directly blocked through anti-androgen therapy. This is a hormone therapy regime you should only pursue under the advice of an endocrinologist or an appropriately experienced dermatologist.

    Hair replacement surgery is a more drastic solution which involves reconstructing the skin on the scalp such that bald patches are minimised and areas with hair are made more prominent. This is done by grafting skin from the back of the head, where hair still grows, to the top of the scalp. Grafts can be made to look natural by moving very small plugs of skin – usually less than five hairs at a time. A surgeon will likely construct a new hairline using individual hairs (micrografts) at the front and plugs of 3-6 hairs (mini-grafts) for the subsequent rows of hair.

    This is a complex surgery. Even with a skilled surgeon, hair loss may continue around the grafts, leading to a very patchy appearance. The procedure can be very expensive, especially if further work is required in the future. Consult your GP thoroughly and be sure to select a reputable surgeon.

  • Will I go completely Bald without treatment?

    It is difficult to predict the extent to which male pattern baldness will cause hair loss. Generally, though, men who experience hair loss earlier in life will be most likely become fully bald. If you do not notice symptoms of pattern baldness until after your mid-twenties, you will likely still have hair, albeit thinner hair, when you reach old age.

    It may be worth finding out the extent to which male pattern baldness has affected older men in your family, especially your maternal grandfather. Comparing their history to your own experiences may give you an indication of your eventual hair loss.

  • At what point should I seek treatment?

    It is easier to reverse symptoms of male pattern baldness the earlier that treatment is started. So, if you wish to stop the process of going bald, you should consult a specialist as soon as you notice significant hair loss.

    If you do not pursue treatment, the process of hair loss will continue, and it will become more difficult to minimise or hide the symptoms.

  • How can I minimise my Hair Loss?

    Outside of medical treatments, there are some changes to lifestyle and hair care that may mitigate male pattern baldness.

    In terms of your hair care routine:

    • Be gentle with your remaining hair – use a comb rather than a brush
    • Consider switching to shampoos and other products that can make hair look fuller
    • Do not wear tightly fitting headwear
    • Consider cutting your hair short, so that any balding areas are less noticeable

    There is also a link between diet and hair loss. Ensure that you have sufficient iron and protein each day.

  • What is DHT?

    Dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, is a hormone that is present in men’s hair follicles in the scalp. It shortens the lifespan of hair follicles, leading to hair loss. Without DHT, most hair follicles can grow hair for nearly eight years.

    Some women experience hair loss during the menopause, due to the decrease in female hormones and relative increase of DHT.

    Finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT; anti-androgen therapy blocks DHT activity directly.

  • At what age does Hair Loss start?

    Men tend to first notice male pattern baldness from the age of 25 to 35, though it can sometimes start as early as a man’s late teenage years. Baldness tends to accelerate with age.

  • Are hair loss treatments effective?

    There are a number of different treatments available to combat the signs and symptoms of hair loss, mostly depending on the reason for the loss. Whether the treatment is effective or not usually depends on the type of medication you are taking and the cause of the hair loss.

    Finasteride is an effective treatment for male pattern baldness and works to slow down hair loss. It is effective in around 90% of men who suffer from this condition.

  • Which vitamins are good to combat hair loss?

    If using the usual type of medication is not working, or you would rather take a holistic approach, then you should consider taking vitamin supplements to promote strong and healthy hair. There is no scientific research to show that these vitamins are effective in treating hair loss, so it is recommended that this method is used in conjunction with taking medication.

    There are lots of different vitamins that are known to promote strong and healthy hair. Vitamins like:

    • Biotin
    • Niacin (Vitamin B3)
    • Vitamin C
    • Zinc
    • Iron

    Other natural remedies include consuming omega 3, an essential fatty acid that our body needs to function properly.

  • Why does hair loss occur at a young age?

    Hair loss can occur at any age. Those that are affected by this condition from a very young age may notice loss from their teens or early twenties. This is known as Androgenic alopecia and is usually passed down through genetics. Those that are affected with Androgenic alopecia will have a family member who is also affected by this condition.

    People with this condition usually notice a receding hairline that gradually spreads to the rest of the head.

    A condition called Alopecia areata can also cause young people to lose their hair. This condition usually starts suddenly and leaves patches on the affected person's scalp. Those that are affected should expect their hair to grow back within a few years.

  • When is hair loss normal and no cause for concern?

    Everyone loses hair, but it’s difficult to gauge when this loss is cause for concern. If you are concerned about the amount of hair you are losing then it is important to monitor this condition and speak to a doctor. They will be able to decipher if this is normal or cause for concern.

Authored By:

A photo of  Scott McDougall

Scott McDougall


Published on: 29-05-2019

Last modified on: 29-05-2019

Scott is one of the two founders of The Independent Pharmacy. He is a registered pharmacist and the registered manager of our service with the CQC.

Reviewed By:

A photo of  Leanne Sinclair

Leanne Sinclair


Reviewed on: 29-05-2019

Next review date: 29-05-2021

Leanne is a clinical pharmacist with years of experience working in pharmacy.

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