Hair loss in men
Hair Loss or Alopecia is a condition that affects both men and women. There are many different causes for alopecia and different strands of the condition.
Male Pattern Baldness (androgenic alopecia)
The most common cause of hair loss in men, and follows a pattern of a receding hairline, followed by thinning on the temples and the crown. Even though it is common and slow acting (taking anything from 5 to 25 years to cause full baldness) it can still be stressful and difficult for those who have it.
Male pattern baldness is a hereditary condition that affects around half the men over 50 and 3 in 10 men in their thirties. The condition is caused by the way that hair follicles use and adapt testosterone naturally produced in the body. The hair follicles, mostly for reasons unknown, changes the testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, which causes the hair follicle to shrink and produce thinner hairs and eventually, to stop producing. Male pattern baldness is a harmless and common condition and because of this treatments are not available on the NHS, and in many cases, a private prescription is needed to be able to receive treatments from pharmacies.
This type of balding, differs to male pattern balding, as rather than following a pattern, i.e. thinning on the crown, receding and meeting, hair falls out in clumps or in random places. This type of balding usually affects people in their teens with 6 in 10 people experiencing their first bout of this condition before they are 20.
The cause of hair loss in this case is thought to be down to the immune system as well as your genes, as there has been reported that 1 in 5 people with the condition have family members that also suffer. In most cases of alopecia areata, hair grows back within a year.
Like male pattern baldness, this condition is down to the hair follicles being affected in some way. Scarring alopecia is a reactionary condition that has been caused by some other treatment or condition which damages and destroys the hair follicles. Conditions that can cause type of baldness include, lichen planus and discoid lupus.
This type of hair loss causes baldness in the scalp, face and body. Most commonly, like scarring alopecia this is a reactionary type of hair loss, that is a common occurrence is patients undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
In most cases, this hair loss is temporary, and hair regrows after treatment has stopped.
This form of alopecia causes widespread thinning of the hair rather than specific patches of baldness. This type of hair loss usually occurs as a reaction to stress and medication and tends to improve without treatment in about three months.
Hair Loss Treatments
Hair loss can be stressful and cause sufferers to feel upset, so it is important that if you feel this way about your thinning or receding hair to make an appointment with your GP, to reduce chances of it having an affect on your health. Although more than likely not giving you a prescription, a GP should be able to diagnose the type of alopecia that you are suffering from, and advise you on what treatments are available.
For alopecia areata, steroid creams and injections can be used to stimulate hair regrowth as well as immunotherapy, which uses allergic reactions as a stimulant.
Most hair loss treatments are considered to be cosmetic and therefore are not available on the NHS. The most common treatments for male pattern baldness are finasteride minoxidil. However, these treatments are not permanent and must be continued for as long as you want to keep your hair. Men should be aware that treatments for hair loss can be expensive, may need private prescriptions from doctors, or pharmacists and do not guarantee hair regrowth, but mostly prevention in further hair loss.
This drug, in tablet form, branded 'Propecia' needs to be taken every day and works by stopping the hair follicles from converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone. With this drug, hair regrowth is noted in 2 in 3 men, but has no effect in 1 in 100 men. This drug takes at least 4 months for any noticeable difference to occur, and 1-2 years for any hair to regrow.
Branded as 'Regaine' this scalp solution comes in two strengths, 2% and 5%, and can be bought over the counter at pharmacies. The ways in which this treatment works are widely unknown, but side effects are rare. Scalp must be treated every day, and about half of men that do, report a stop in hair loss and 15 in 100 men have good hair regrowth.