HAIR LOSS TREATMENT

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ABOUT HAIR LOSS TREATMENT

Hair Loss Treatment

Hair loss is a condition which can be upsetting. Usually, it’s not anything to worry about. Advancements in treatments means that there are clinically effective and proven treatments, designed to help slow hair loss, and in some cases, even reverse it. Below, we list some of the hair loss tablets and medication that we use to treat hair loss. You will be required to complete a short online consultation, so that our specialist pharmacists can assess the suitability of treatment.


About

Hair loss affects around 15 million people in the UK. It is characterised by the loss or thinning of hair on the scalp. Below, we have summarised the different type of hair loss, starting with the most common type.
 

Male Pattern Baldness (Androgenetic alopecia)

The most common type of hair loss is male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia. It is estimated that male pattern baldness affects 20% of men in their 20s, 30% of men in their 30s and 50% of men in their 40s. This type of hair loss is gradual and is strongly linked to genetics. Some men start to notice symptoms as early as puberty, with some men experiencing this type of hair loss much later in life.
 

Alopecia areata

‘Areata’ means patchy, and alopecia areata is characterised by patchy hair loss. It usually starts from a young age, and it can affect anyone. Hair can grow back, and it is possible for someone to have an episode of alopecia areata, and not be affected by it again. However, most people who are affected by this type of hair loss, will be affected every so often.
 

Anagen effluvium

This is a rapid type of hair loss, usually because of an abrupt stop to the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth cycle. This type of hair loss is usually caused by medical treatment, such as chemotherapy. Around 80% of hair sits in the anagen phase, which explains why there is extensive hair loss during chemotherapy.
 

Telogen effluvium

This type of hair loss is usually a result of emotional or physical shock, such as a traumatic event, periods of stress, or serious illness. It can also occur due to hormonal changes, for example, during childbirth of the period after, during menopause, or if you have hormonal imbalances.
 

Tinea capitis

This type of hair loss is caused by a fugal infection on the scalp, known as ringworm. It causes dry and scaly patches, which are itchy. A side effect of tinea capitis is hair loss, but once treated, hair usually grows back. In severe cases, hair loss may be permanent if it is not treated quickly. Tinea capitis is contagious.
 

Traction alopecia

This type of hair loss is a result of damage to the hair follicles caused by physical trauma, often caused by ponytails and braids.


Causes

  • Male Pattern Baldness – Caused by high levels of the hormone dihydrotestosterone, which shrinks hair follicles and causes hair thinning and hair loss.
  • Alopecia areata – An autoimmune condition caused when the immune system attacks hair follicles. Conditions that cause this type of hair loss include psoriasis, vitiligo, and thyroid conditions.
  • Anagen effluvium- Causes include medication such as chemotherapy, infection, or radiation.
  • Telogen effluvium – Causes include stress, emotional trauma, and long-term illness.
  • Tinea capitis – Causes include a fungal infection, known as ringworm.
  • Traction alopecia – Causes include physical trauma, usually from certain hairstyles.

Symptoms

  • Hair thinning – This is characterised by a reduction in hair volume. Depending on the extent of hair loss, the scalp may be visible.
  • Bald patches – This can be specific areas on the scalp with visible patches of hair loss (in the case of alopecia areata), or generalised thinning on the top of the head, which happens gradually over time (in the case of male pattern baldness).
  • Receding hairline – This is characterised by the gradual retreat of hair at the forehead, often forming an “M” shape. This symptom is unique to male pattern baldness.
  • Scaly, dry and/or itchy scalp – Hair loss will usually occur in areas with visible areas of skin flaking, irritation, and redness. This symptom is usually associated with tinea capitis.
  • Loose hairs – This symptom is associated with all types of hair loss. Excess hairs found on pillows, or in the shower, are usually a giveaway sign of hair loss.
  • Hair parting that is widening – This is when the parting of the hair widens, because of physical trauma, often from hairstyles.  

Diagnosis

Your doctor will usually be able to diagnose your hair loss, via a physical examination. Your medical history can play a part in your diagnosis. Your family history of hair loss, medical conditions, medication you are taking, and your mental state, can all play a part in helping to diagnose the type of hair loss. Other tests that can help to diagnose hair loss include:

  • Biopsy of the scalp – A sample of skin from your scalp is scraped and sent to the laboratory for testing. This can help to determine whether an infection is causing hair loss, where a doctor is unable to visually diagnose the cause of hair loss.
  • Blood test – This can help to identify undiagnosed medical conditions, that may be causing hair loss, such as hormone imbalances, problems with your immune system, or other deficiencies, such as a vitamin D deficiency.
  • Microscopy – This is usually carried out by a specialist in the field of hair loss. It involves plucking the hair, and examining it under magnification for identification of the root cause.

Treatment

Hair Loss treatment for men

  • Hair Loss TabletsFinasteride is the most common hair loss treatment for men. It works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (the hormone which shrinks hair follicles). This helps to halt the hair loss process, and in some cases, regrow hair. A clinical study looking at the effectiveness of finasteride, demonstrated that 90% of users found it to be effective. The dose is one tablet to be taken daily. It usually takes around 3-6 months to notice a difference. Finasteride is a prescription-only medication. You can purchase this hair loss tablet online from Chemist Click, by completing a short online consultation.
    Dutasteride is another hair loss tablet which works by blocking the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Whilst it has been clinically proven, it is not licensed to treat hair loss in men.
  • Topical hair loss solution/foam – The active ingredient in hair loss solutions and foams is minoxidil. It helps to promote healthy blood flow to hair follicles, increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that hair follicles receive. This can help to stop hair falling out, and even regrow hair. A popular topical hair loss treatment for men is Regaine. It usually takes around 6-9 months of consistent use, to see results.
     

Hair loss treatment for women

  • Topical hair loss solution for women – Minoxidil can also be used by women, in a lower strength. The mechanism of action is the same.
  • Hair loss tablets for women – Women are not able to take finasteride. In fact, pregnant women should not handle finasteride, as it can cause harmful defects to the foetus.
    Low iron levels (anaemia) and low vitamin D levels are a contributing factor to hair loss in women. Your doctor can arrange for a blood test and advise the correct strength to help restore levels.
    Some women have high levels of androgens, hormones which are higher in males. Certain tablets can help to reduce androgen levels in females.
     

Alternative hair loss treatments

  • Microneedling is an alternative method of treating hair loss. Creating tiny wounds on the scalp help to stimulate blood flow, providing hair follicles with oxygen and nutrients to facilitate hair growth. A study conducted by the International Journal of Trichology found that combining microneedling with minoxidil had a 50% better response rate than minoxidil alone, in 80% of participants.
  • Hair loss supplements such as saw palmetto and rosemary oil are widely advertised as having a positive impact on hair growth. However, there is lack of clinical data to support these claims. To find out more, you can read our article on hair loss vitamins.
     

Hair thinning treatment

Both minoxidil and finasteride help to restore volume and thickness to the hair. They promote healthy hair growth, allowing hair follicles to produce healthier strands of hair. They also help to encourage the growth of multiple hairs from one hair follicle, giving a thicker appearance.
 

Is there a cure for hair loss?

Hair loss treatments such as minoxidil and finasteride can help to reduce hair loss and promote hair regrowth. However, they are not considered to be permanent cures. Once you stop using treatment, you will lose the results you have experienced, and the natural balding process will resume.

Hair transplants can be seen a cure for hair loss, however, depending on the type of hair transplant, you may need to use finasteride after a hair transplant to prevent the natural balding process from taking its course.  

Important note: You should always see your doctor if you are experiencing sudden or patchy hair loss, especially if hair loss is accompanied by other alarming symptoms such as unexplained weight loss.


Prevention

Preventing hair loss successfully will depend on the route cause. For those who suffer from male pattern baldness, the most effective preventative options are finasteride and minoxidil. It is easier to prevent this type of hair loss, as the process is gradual, and can be tackled at the first signs.

It is difficult to predict the pattern of other types of hair loss, and measures will usually be reactive.

Tips that can help to prevent hair loss and preserve hair health include:

  • Do not subject your hair to high heat or drying environments. Drying, straightening, and curling your hair can damage hair follicles.
  • Wear a hat if your scalp is subject to prolonged periods of time under direct sunlight.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking can reduce the amount of blood that your hair follicles receive.
  • Be gentle when combing or drying your hair. Use a soft bristle hairbrush to avoid damaging hair follicles.
  • Use a gentle shampoo. Try to avoid using shampoos which contain sulphates.
  • Supplement your diet. Ensure to eat a balanced diet and include supplements in your diet, especially if you are low in vitamin D and iron. Other vitamins and minerals which are thought to help promote hair growth include zinc, vitamin B2, vitamin B9, vitamin B12, biotin and vitamin E.
  • Using a cooling cap if you are undergoing chemotherapy. A cooling cap can help to reduce blood flow to the scalp during chemotherapy.
  • Massage your scalp. A gentle scalp massage can help to promote blood flow to the hair follicles, providing them with oxygen and nutrients. Microneedling is another way of promoting healthy blood flow in the scalp.
  • Avoid pulling hairstyles. Certain hairstyles, such as tight ponytails and braids can cause mechanical trauma to hair follicles. This damage can prevent hair growth and may even cause hair loss.

The treatments that we offer are prescription-only medication. A pharmacist will need to review your consultation, to ensure that treatment is safe for you to take. You will only be issued with treatment if your consultation is approved by a pharmacist.

The newest hair loss treatment is RNA treatment.

According to studies, the most effective treatment for hair loss is finasteride. Combining finasteride with minoxidil is likely to yield the best results.

You cannot get hair loss treatment on the NHS to treat male pattern baldness. You can get medication on the NHS to treat other types of hair loss such as alopecia areata and tinea capitis.

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