Losing your hair isn’t usually anything to be worried about but it can be upsetting. Treatment may help with some types of hair loss.
Causes of hair loss
It’s normal to lose hair. We can lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, often without noticing.
Hair loss isn’t usually anything to be worried about but occasionally it can be a sign of a medical condition.
Some types of hair loss are permanent, like male and female pattern baldness. This type of hair loss usually runs in the family.
Other types of hair loss may be temporary. They can be caused by:
See a GP if:
you have sudden hair loss
you develop bald patches
you’re losing hair in clumps
your head also itches and burns
you’re worried about your hair loss
What happens at your appointment
Your GP should be able to tell you what’s causing your hair loss by looking at your hair.
Tell your GP if your hair loss is affecting your wellbeing and ask what treatments are available.
See your GP first to get a clear and accurate idea of what’s causing your hair loss before thinking about going to a commercial hair clinic, which can be costly.
Treatment for hair loss
Most hair loss doesn’t need treatment and is either:
temporary and it will grow back
a normal part of getting older
Hair loss caused by a medical condition usually stops or grows back once you’ve recovered.
There are things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress. However, most treatments are not available on the NHS so you will have to pay for them.
No treatment is 100% effective.
Finasteride and minoxidil
Finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.
Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women should not use finasteride.
Losing hair can be upsetting. For many people, hair is an important part of who they are.
If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling.
You may also benefit from joining a support group, or speaking to other people in the same situation on online forums.
Try these online support groups:
Propecia is the popular branded hairloss treatment and contains Finasteride.
finasteride belongs to a group of medicines called Type II ‘5-alpha reductase inhibitors’. It is used for the treatment of male pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia). Finasteride increases hair growth on the scalp and prevents further hair loss in men. Men with mild to moderate, but not complete hair loss, can benefit from using finasteride. Finasteride lowers the levels of DHT in the scalp. This helps to reverse the balding process, leading to an increased hair growth and prevention of further hair loss.
Propecia is not currently available on the NHS when used for treating male pattern baldness. The NHS considers this as a cosmetic treatment and consequently will not cover use for this purpose.
male pattern baldness
Male pattern hair loss is a common condition in which men experience thinning of the hair on the scalp, often resulting in a receding hairline and/or balding on the top of the head. This condition is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic factors and a particular hormone, DHT (dihydrotestosterone).
DHT causes a decrease in the growth phase and thinning of the hair (see picture). This leads to male pattern hair loss. These changes can start to occur in some men in their 20s and become more common with age. Once hair loss has occurred over a long period of time, the hair may be permanently lost.
Finasteride lowers the levels of DHT in the scalp. This helps to reverse the balding process, leading to an increased hair growth and prevention of further hair loss.
The recommended dose is one tablet each day. The tablet can be taken with or without food.
It may take 3 to 6 months for the full effect to develop. It is important to keep taking finasteride for as long as your doctor tells you. If you stop taking finasteride, you are likely to lose the hair you have gained within 9 to 12 months.
Do not take finasteride:
if you are a woman (because this medicine is for men). It has been shown in clinical trials that Propecia does not work in women with hair loss.
Propecia should not be used in children. There are no data demonstrating efficacy or safety of finasteride in children under the age of 18.
Like all medicines, this medicine can cause side effects, although not everybody gets them. Some of the side effects are temporary with continued treatment or disappeared when treatment is stopped.
Stop taking Propecia and talk to your doctor if you experience:
Symptoms of an allergic reaction: swelling of your lips, face, tongue and throat; difficulty swallowing; lumps under your skin (hives) and breathing difficulties. Stop taking Propecia and talk to your doctor immediately.
Depression (feeling of severe sadness and unworthiness).
You should promptly report to your doctor any changes in your breast tissue such as lumps, pain, enlargement or nipple discharge as these may be signs of a serious condition, such as breast cancer.
Uncommon: may affect up to 1 in 100 people
you may be unable to have an erection (impotence)
you may have less desire to have sex
you may have problems with ejaculation, for example a decrease in the amount of semen released during sex. This decrease in the amount of semen does not appear to affect normal sexual function
breast swelling or tenderness
palpitations (feeling your heartbeat)
changes in the way your liver is working, which can be shown by a blood test
pain in the testicles
persistent difficulty having an erection after discontinuation of treatment
persistent decrease in sex drive after discontinuation of treatment
persistent problems with ejaculation after discontinuation of treatment
male infertility and/or poor quality of semen
If any of these side effects gets serious, or if you notice any side effects not listed on this leaflet please tell your doctor or pharmacist. It will help if you make a note of what happened, when it started and how long it lasted.
Will the use of Propecia affect the hair on other parts of your body?
Propecia does not affect hair on other parts of the body.
What else should you know about Propecia?
Finasteride can also be used for a type of prostate problem called ‘benign prostatic hyperplasia’ or BPH. Information collected from a clinical trial in men taking finasteride 5 mg (a dose 5 times higher than Propecia) for 7 years showed:
the number of men who developed prostate cancer was lower in men taking finasteride compared with those taking nothing
the number of men who had a high score in a tumour grading system was higher in some of those taking finasteride compared to those taking nothing
the effect of long-term use of finasteride on tumours of this kind is unknown.
If you would like further information about the tumour grading syste.
or a full list of side effects see manufacturers
Paitient Information Leaflet
Further information can be found on the manufacturers
Paitient Information Leaflet and printed if required.