Most men experience some form of hair loss before the age of 60, and for some men, symptoms can develop as early as in their 20s. While it does not always require treatment, for many, the balding process can be extremely difficult to cope with and lead to low self-esteem.
Fortunately, there are plenty of treatments available for hair loss, from creams, to tablets, to injections and surgery. If you’re looking to learn more about hair loss treatments and how they work, take a look at this simple guide.
Finasteride, also sold as Propecia, is a one the most effective treatments for balding. Used on men with mild to moderate hair loss, this prescription-only treatment comes in the form of a tablet that is taken daily. Male-pattern baldness, a genetic form of hair loss, is caused when hair follicles turn the male sex hormone, testosterone, into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Some follicles, particularly those near the temples or on the crown of the head, become overly sensitive to DHT, causing them to shorten and die. Finasteride works to reduce the adverse impact that DHT has on the follicles, preventing hair loss and, in some cases, encouraging hairs to regrow. However, bear in mind that the treatment may take up to six months before results are seen, and the balding process will continue if the treatment is stopped.
Minoxidil, sometimes branded as Regaine, is another effective hair loss treatment, although research has shown that it may not work as well as Finasteride. The medicine comes as a lotion that is rubbed on to the scalp every day. Unlike finasteride, Minoxidil is available without a prescription. Although experts are still unsure of how Minoxidil works, it has been shown to prevent hair loss and sometimes trigger hair regrowth. It will usually take several months before any results are seen, and hair loss will resume once treatment is no longer being used. This treatment can also be used for female-pattern baldness.
Corticosteroid injections and topical corticosteroids
Corticosteroid is a steroid-based drug used to treat alopecia areata, a condition characterised by bald patches. The hair disorder is thought to be caused by the immune system attacking the hair follicles. Corticosteroid is injected into the bald areas to suppress the immune system and prevent damage caused to the follicles. It has also been shown to prompt hair regrowth. The injections are administered every few weeks, and the condition will usually return when the treatment stops. Topical corticosteroids are creams, lotions or foams that can only be used on the scalp, but not anywhere on the face.
Surgery is also a viable option for people looking for hair loss treatment. However, a hair transplant should only be considered as a last resort if less-invasive treatments have failed. Hair transplants are carried out over a number of sessions and involve a surgeon removing a small piece of scalp that has a lot of hair. The scalp is then split into single hairs, which are then grafted onto bald areas. When the hairs are inserted, they cause blood clotting which holds them in place, removing the need for stitches. Within a few months, the hair count should start to increase. However, it is worth noting that hair transplants and other surgical procedures have varied success rates and are often highly expensive.