Read all you need to know about male and female hair loss, from causes to treatment. Discover expert advice below.
What is the difference between male and female hair loss?
Men’s hair loss is generally caused by a genetic condition called Male Pattern Baldness, or Androgenetic Alopecia. This affects hair on the top of the head but not around the sides and can be passed down by either the mother or father’s side of the family.
Whilst Androgenetic Alopecia is also fairly common among women, there are a number of other causes of female hair loss, the most common being Telogen Effluvium. This is usually a temporary condition caused by a physical or mental factor. The trigger can be anything from a life changing event, stress or illness. There are many possibilities. The hair will usually begin to grow back in around three months. But if the cause is ongoing (such as a nutrient deficiency or hormonal factors), the hair will not grow back until the hair loss is treated or the cause is rectified.
How can I tell the difference between temporary (e.g. due to stress) and permanent hair loss?
Genetic (permanent) hair loss only affects the top of the scalp, so the back and sides will not be affected. Telogen Effluvium affects the hair all over the scalp. This is the simplest way to get a basic idea of what is causing your hair loss.
Do hair loss treatments you could buy from high-street shops work?
The only hair loss treatment that is clinically proven for women is minoxidil. Certain laser devices have also been ‘FDA Cleared’ in the USA, which means they hold a certain amount of efficacy. Finasteride is the second clinically proven hair loss treatment but is only available for men.
What vitamins/supplements help treat hair loss?
This depends on the user. Hair Growth Supplements are more for the health and vitality of the hair. They will not reduce or prevent hair loss unless the cause of the hair loss is a deficiency. For example, if somebody has anaemia, then an iron supplement will help reduce or prevent hair loss caused by this deficiency. Hair Vitalics is one example of a hair growth supplement that contains lots of nutrients that help with healthy hair growth.
What other options are there for treatment?
This depends on the diagnosis being treated. Alopecia Areata (patchy hair loss) can be treated by steroid injections. Minoxidil is also effective.
Other than minoxidil (men and women) and finasteride (men only), the treatments are limited. Minoxidil can contain additives that also add to its effectiveness.
Medroxyprogesterone, azelaic acid, caffeine, biotin, zinc and selenium are just a few examples.
How long does it usually take to grow back hair using these methods?
Between three to 12 months. People will usually begin to notice regrowth at around the three-month mark, but for some it takes slightly longer.
What is a hair transplant?
A hair transplant is a procedure where hair follicles are transferred surgically from the side of the scalp to the top area of baldness/thinning hair. As these hairs are not predisposed to hair loss, they will continue to grow on the top. Follicles can also be transferred from other areas of the body, although it is not always advised because of the different texture/length etc. of the hair.
Are results permanent?
Results from hair transplants are. But you have to be careful to maintain the hair around the transplant with effective treatments to ensure that hair doesn’t continue to shed. When this happens, it can leave patches of thick (transplanted) hair exposed.
At what stage of hair loss should I seek treatment? Does it help to catch it early on?
As early as possible in order to prevent permanent visual thinning. The earlier hair loss is caught, the more chance there is of fully restoring and maintaining your hair.
Written by Christina Chikaher (GPhC, BPharm, IP, MPS), Superintendent Pharmacist, The Belgravia Centre.
Visit http://www.belgraviacentre.com for lots more information on hair loss and how it can be treated. The Belgravia Centre has two hair loss clinics and pharmacies in Central London and also offers an online consultation for those living outside of London.