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For many men, their hair is an important part of who they are. So it is understandable that hair loss can lower your confidence and impact your everyday life. There are many different types of male hair loss, so when you first start to lose your hair it can be difficult to understand whether you are beginning to get male pattern baldness or another hair loss condition.
Is hair loss normal?
Yes, around 6.5 million men in the UK live with male pattern baldness*. The typical male pattern of hair loss is where your hairline starts receding before getting thinner at the crown and the temples. When these two areas meet, it leaves hair at the sides and the back – in a horseshoe pattern. Eventually some men may go completely bald, while others might keep their hair around the back and sides.
For some men the process can start as early as their 20s and by the age of 60 most men have some degree of hair loss. As it is a testosterone-based condition, male pattern baldness can occur in men any time after puberty. Male pattern baldness is not a disease or illness and it doesn't affect your health. However, if you have hair loss that doesn't follow this pattern, for example your hair is falling out in clumps and leaving patches, then you should talk to your GP.
What causes hair loss in males?
Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, is related to male hormones and family genetics. Hair loss in men usually begins with a receding hairline and thinning hair on the crown.
It is caused by a very sensitive reaction to DHT (dihydrotestosterone), which is a type of testosterone. The response causes hair follicles to shrink and as a result they lose the ability to grow new hair. In addition, this also shortens the lifespan of hair follicles so you lose hair more quickly and frequently. Male baldness is a combination of losing hair more quickly, with a slower growth and replacement rate.
Hair loss or hair thinning can also be caused by stress, poor diet, hormone imbalance, illness or your body going into shock. Certain diseases and intensive medical treatment such as chemotherapy are also likely to result in hair loss, but it is best to consult your doctor if you go bald at an alarmingly fast rate, especially if you have no family history of male hair loss.
Can I stop hair loss?
Whilst there is no cure for male hair loss, the right treatment can prevent further hair loss and in some cases lead to renewed hair growth. The two most well-known, effective treatments available in the UK are finasteride, (also available as the brand ‘Propecia’, and minoxidil. The good news is finasteride is very effective at stopping hair loss, with 90% of men having positive results**.
Men usually need to take finasteride every day for a minimum of 3 months before noticing any results and the balding process will often resume if treatment is stopped. It can be acquired with a private prescription, either from a private doctor or after a consultation with our Online Doctors.
Minoxidil is an over the counter treatment which does not require a prescription. It comes as a lotion, foam or liquid, usually in strengths of either 2% or 5%. A well-known product is the Regaine Extra Strength for Men**, which must be applied to the scalp at least once a day, every day, to have a positive effect on hair loss.
Can a man's hair grow back?
Finasteride has seen to help hair regrowth in up to 66% of men***. This is because finasteride / Propecia blocks the effect of the hormones that shrink the hair follicles, meaning they can continue to allow hair growth. It is available on a private prescription for approximately £380 per year, can be obtained online from the LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor after a short consultation. If it's medically appropriate for you, one of our doctors will make it available either for home delivery or free in-store collection.
Finasteride has the highest success rate of hair loss products in the UK*. Another popular option is Minoxidil, which is the active ingredient in the over-the-counter product Regaine. It is appropriate to use both these products together to increase the chance of hair regrowth.
Men may also explore options like caffeine shampoo and Viviscal products; these have no proven benefits for hair loss but may help with the health and strength of hair.
In most cases the cause is hereditary – and is known as male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia. It is also possible that hair loss could be caused by a medical disorder, prescribed medication, poor nutrition, bad hair care techniques or severe stress.
DHT stands for dihydrotestosterone, which is a type of testosterone. Male pattern hair loss is caused by a very sensitive reaction to DHT. DHT prevents nutrients from being absorbed by hair follicles, which causes them to shrink and eventually fall out.