hair loss treatment

Hair loss is rarely something to worry about from a medical standpoint. Losing hair to some degree is normal for everybody. We tend to lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day without noticing.[1]

But for many people, the onset of balding can be emotionally distressing. High levels of hair loss can take its toll on your confidence and overall wellbeing, and you may be left feeling powerless and confused.

Understanding what’s behind your hair loss is the first step to overcoming these feelings. We’re going to take a closer look at this condition, including many of the myths that surround it and the possible treatments available.

What is hair loss?

Hair loss can often be a distressing experience, and in many instances it has a significant detrimental effect on the sufferer’s quality of life[2] with people suggesting that it contributes to low self-esteem. The most common form of hair loss is male pattern baldness, or male pattern hair loss.

In the case of male pattern hair loss, high levels of androgens, including DHT, can shrink your hair follicles and shorten the growth cycle, which can cause hair to appear thinner and more brittle.[3] DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is a by-product of testosterone.

What causes hair loss?

Hair loss can be the result of many different factors, from stress and family history to nutrition and diet.[4] In certain situations, hair loss can be the sign of a larger health concern, such as iron deficiency, extreme weight loss or cancer treatment.[5]

But with so many factors involved in hair loss, a great deal of misinformation gets spread about the condition. This makes it even more confusing to work out exactly what is behind your symptoms. Let’s explore some of the widely regarded facts and myths surrounding hair loss.

Swimming?

For a long time, people have held the belief that continuously exposing your hair to pool-water can lead to baldness. This is largely based on the course, dry feeling of your hair after using a pool treated with chlorine.

However, evidence suggests that in order for swimming to be the sole cause of hair loss, the swimmer would have to be allergic to the pool’s chemicals, or the chlorine levels would need to be dangerously high.[6]

Hats?

Another common untruth surrounding hair loss is that wearing a hat can make it more likely. However, while it is true that frequent hat wearing can lead to the loss of hairs, these hairs would have to be vulnerable to shedding already in order to be affected. In other words, you need to already be at risk of hair loss in order to lose your hair as a result of wearing a hat, meaning your hat isn’t to be held responsible.[7]

Hair dryers?

Similarly, drying your hair with a hair dryer is unlikely to be the sole cause of significant hair loss. However, hair loss can occur as a result of overtreating your hair.

This form of hair loss, known as traumatic alopecia, is caused by potentially damaging hairdressing techniques. These include pulling the hair into tight braids, twisting the hair, exposing the hair to extreme heat or bleaching the hair with strong chemicals.[8]

Stress?

Anxiety can lead to hair loss. This connection may present itself in several different ways. For example, stress may cause you to pull at your hair as a nervous habit, or your diet may suffer meaning your hair becomes weaker and more susceptible to falling out.

Telogen effluvium is a specific form of hair loss which occurs following a major body stress, such as major surgery, serious infection or a prolonged illness. It can also happen after a significant change in hormones, such as for women after giving birth.[9]

Hormones?

It is thought that, overall, hormones do have a role to play in hair loss. In the past, the level of testosterone itself has been thought to have an impact on male baldness. However, more recent studies appear to contradict this theory. One German study found that total testosterone was not significantly associated with general hair loss in male participants.[10]

In fact, as outlined earlier, it is a particular by-product of testosterone – DHT – which is at the root of much male pattern baldness.

Female pattern hair loss (FPHL) can occur at any age, although it is most common during the menopause. This does not necessarily mean that hormones are solely responsible, but oestrogen may have a protective role. Genetics are thought to be an important factor in FPHL.[11]

Genes?

A family history of hair loss can increase your risk of suffering from hair loss, particularly male pattern baldness. Male pattern baldness or male pattern hair loss (MPHL) is the most common type of hair loss among men, affecting as many as half of men over the age of 50.[12] It is also known as androgenetic alopecia. It is thought that men are more susceptible to the symptoms of MPHL if they have a family history of the condition.

How to prevent or reverse hair loss

There are many different factors which have been suggested as ways to avoid hair loss, from changing your hair products to investing in technology like a laser comb.[13] Sometimes, studies occur which seem to offer hope to sufferers of hair loss. For example, a 2016 Japanese study found that scalp massages increased hair thickness in 24 weeks.[14] While encouraging, results like these do not necessarily mean that such treatments will work in all cases of hair loss.

Some of the more extreme treatments for hair loss include hair transplantation, scalp expansion or reduction, flap surgery and skin lifts and grafts.[15]

Medications like Propecia and its generic equivalent, Finasteride, have been proven to effectively slow and even reverse the symptoms of male pattern baldness. After two years of treatment, 99% of men had visible results – 66% had hair growth and 33% had no further hair loss.[16]

As such, many men suffering from hair loss find medication to be the safest and most effective way to treat their symptoms.

Discover effective hair loss treatment at Express Pharmacy. If you have any queries about your health, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Contact our NHS-approved pharmacists today by calling 0208 123 07 03 or leave your enquiry by using our discreet online Live Chat service.

[1] NHS UK. Hair Loss. 2018.

[2] Phillips, TG., Slomiany, WP., Allison, R. Hair Loss: Common Causes and Treatments. American Family Physician. 2017.

[3] Healthline. What You Need to Know About DHT and Hair Loss. 2019.

[4] MedicinePlus. Hair Loss. U.S. National Library of Medicine. 2019.

[5] NHS UK. Hair Loss. 2018.

[6] Belgravia Centre. Can Swimming Pools Cause Hair Loss? 2013.

[7] LiveStrong. How Do Hats Cause Thinning Hair? 2017.

[8] Harvard Health Publishing. Hair Loss: What is it? 2018.

[9] Harvard Health Publishing. Hair Loss: What is it? 2018.

[10] Kische, H. Arnold, A., Gross, S., Wallaschofski, H., Volzke, H., Matthias, N., Haring, R. Sex Hormones and Hair Loss in Men from the General Population of North-Eastern Germany. JAMA Dermatology. 2017.

[11] Women’s Health Concern. Menopausal Hair Loss. 2018.

[12] British Association of Dermatologists. Male Pattern Hair Loss (Androgenetic Alopecia). 2012 [Reviewed 2019]

[13] The Guardian. Seven ways… to avoid hair loss. 2018.

[14] Koyama, T., Kobayashi, K., Hama, T., Murakami, K., Ogawa, R. Standardized Scalp Massage Results in Increased Hair Thickness by Inducing Stretching Forces to Dermal Papilla Cells in the Subcutaneous Tissue. Eplasty. 2016.

[15] UCLA Health. Hair Loss. UCLA Dermatology. 2018.

[16] Kaufman, K. et al. Finasteride in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride Male Pattern Hair Loss Study Group. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 1998.