The best treatment for your hair loss will depend upon exactly which type of hair loss you have. Here we will focus on androgenic alopecia which is the most common type of hair loss. Male pattern baldness is a type of androgenic alopecia. However, we will also touch on some other therapeutic options which may be more appropriate for other types of hair loss.
What is Finasteride?
Male pattern hair loss is caused by the hair follicles being susceptible to a hormone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT is made from testosterone by the 5-alpha reductase chemical. Finasteride reduces the conversion of testosterone to DHT which helps to protect hair follicles and reduces hair loss.
Due to its effects on hormones, finasteride can only be used by men. Women who are experiencing hair loss may like to try minoxidil instead.
What is Minoxidil?
The exact mechanism behind minoxidil is not fully understood, however, we do know that minoxidil helps to stimulate hair follicles to grow more hair.
Minoxidil can be used by both men and women experiencing hair loss. Men can use both finasteride and minoxidil together to reduce hair loss.
What are Antiandrogens?
Antiandrogens are a type of hormonal therapy that can be used to counteract the hormonal changes that contribute to hair loss in women. These treatments include spironolactone and also some contraceptive pills containing oestrogen.
It can take a few months for these treatments to work and you may need to take them long-term to prevent hair loss occurring.
What is Hair Tattooing?
Hair tattooing is when the scalp is tattooed to give the illusion of hair on a bald head. As tattooing just adds colour to a flat surface, hair tattooing can only produce a similar effect to a close buzz-cut hairstyle. It cannot replicate longer hair. Tattooing can also be used to replicate facial hair or eyebrows.
What Should I Know About Hair Transplants?
Hair transplants are becoming increasingly popular in people suffering from androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). Other hair loss treatments may be more suitable for different types of hair loss.
A hair transplant is a surgical procedure in which hair follicles are removed from one area (usually the back of the head) and are transplanted into the area of bald scalp.
Although it is usually very safe, a hair transplant is a type of surgery and therefore carries risks. There is a risk of bleeding, infection and an allergic reaction to the anaesthetic. You can also get scarring on the scalp, although this can be reduced by sticking to the aftercare recommended by the surgeon.
You should be aware that hair loss can continue after a hair transplant and it is recommended that you use finasteride and minoxidil following a hair transplant to maximise the effects.
Laser Therapy for Hair Loss
There is limited evidence supporting laser therapy for hair loss. It is based on the premise that certain frequencies of light will stimulate hair follicles to produce more hair. Currently, there are limited studies to support this.
Emotional Support for Hair Loss
Hair loss can have a significant impact on mental health for both men and women. It can impact how we perceive ourselves and how we expect others to perceive us. This can cause significant stress and anxiety.
Research shows that women are often more impacted by hair loss than men because society still strongly equates hair with female beauty and desirability.
If you are experiencing hair loss and you feel you need some additional support counselling or local support groups may be able to help. We also have a wide range of blog posts on topics surrounding hair loss.
Can you use Steroids for Hair Loss?
Steroid injections and steroid creams can be used for hair loss if it is related to an autoimmune condition such as alopecia areata. In autoimmune hair loss, the immune system attacks the hair follicles.
The steroids help to reduce the immune attack on the hair follicles. They are injected into or applied directly to the bald patches. Steroid treatments for hair loss are only available on prescription. Steroids can be given every four to six weeks and you can expect to see some regrowth of hair in 4-8 weeks.
Can you use Immunotherapy for Hair Loss?
Immunotherapy, like steroids, is reserved for people who have hair loss caused by an autoimmune condition like alopecia areata.
The immunotherapy takes the form of a liquid that is applied to the scalp at regular intervals. The therapy requires multiple hospital visits and unfortunately, this treatment is not effective for everyone, with less than 50% of people experiencing a significant difference.
Antifungal Treatment for Hair Loss
Some types of hair loss such as tinea capitis are caused by fungal infections of the scalp. The best treatment for these infections is antifungals. The bald spots should regrow fully with prompt treatment.
What about Wigs?
Wigs and hairpieces may be a good option for some people experiencing hair loss. Both synthetic wigs and wigs made from natural human hair are available. Synthetic wigs tend to be less comfortable and less convincing than natural hair wigs. But, they are also less expensive and easier to look after.