Normal hair growth occurs in a series of distinct phases, the first of which is a growing phase (also known as anagen), the second is a short transitional phase (catagen) and finally a short resting phase (telogen). The hair follicle then falls out and is replaced by a new one and so the cycle continues. On average, approximately forty hair follicles fall out of a humans head per day. Abnormal hair loss which would result in thinning of the hair and balding occurs when hair is lost at a greater rate than it is replaced. An accelerated hair loss rate would be around 100 or more hairs a day.
Hair loss is also known as alopecia and can occur in a range of forms depending on location and severity, for example, alopecia totalis is hair loss of hair on the head whereas alopecia Universalis is hair loss all over the body. A more common form of hair loss is known as androgenic alopecia and is more regularly termed as male patterned baldness.
Indeed, male pattern baldness is the cause of hair loss in 95% of men and for all sufferers reading this, you are not alone!
This form of alopecia is characterized by hair receding from lateral sides of the forehead and also on the crown of the head. This hair loss from the sides and top tend to eventually meet together giving a classic horseshoe shape.
In terms of causes of male pattern baldness, it is still not 100% understood what causes the symptoms and the problem does seem to vary according to genetic and environmental factors. Genes that seem to play a part in hair loss stem from the androgen receptor gene located on the X gene which is the gene males inherit from their mother. Despite this, many experts now state that hair loss is a result of both parents’ genetics.
Unsurprisingly, nutritional factors are also believed to be important factors in terms of hair loss and general hair health. In cases of food deficiencies especially in iron and proteins are thought to be linked to hair loss. Diets containing lots of fast food which are highly processed and contain a lot of fat are thought to make your skin oilier and block the hair follicle thus leading to areas of baldness.
Other causes include autoimmune disorders and environmental factors such as pollutants in the air and water. Trauma to the scalp can also lead to hair loss such as tight and excessive pulling on the hair such as hairstyles like corn-rows or ponytails which damage the cuticle (the hard outer casing of the hair). This type of damage is known as traction alopecia. In addition, pulling and bending on hair caused by conditions such as OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) triggered by anxiety and depression and can lead to hair loss and patchiness on the scalp. This condition is known as trichotillomania.
The incidence of hair loss also increases with age as per a normal ageing process. Indeed, as much as 30% of men at the age of thirty and half of men aged fifty have a degree of hair loss.
If you are worried about hair loss and want more information including a diagnosis Assured Pharmacy can provide a quick and confidential online consultation to advise you with the best course of treatment and knowledge specifically for each patient.
Typical diagnosis will involve looking at all of the patients predisposing factors including family history of hair loss and any possible nutritional deficits.
Frequent methods of identification involve daily hair counts (collecting the amount of hair loss over 14 days), trichoscopy (handheld microscope used to examine the skin) and a scalp biopsy (sampling inflamed areas of the scalp).
As stated previously, in all cases it is recommended to seek professional help to equip patients with the most information and provide appropriate and effective treatment.
One such treatment is Propecia which contains a drug known as Finasteride. It comes in an oral tablet supplied in blisters of 28 or 84. Propecia is a prescription only medication (POM) and supplied following a consultation with a healthcare professional. Propecia is used to treat male pattern baldness by essentially reducing a hormone in the body, dihydrotestosterone, DHT. This promotes hair growth and stops any further hair loss in men. It is licensed for men over 18 years of age only and has shown no efficacy in clinical trials involving women. Propecia is licensed for mild to moderate symptoms but not in patients with complete or severe hair loss. If you are unsure about whether you are suitable for this product please consult a doctor at Assured Pharmacy today using our online medical questionnaire.
The actual mechanism of Propecia is by preventing the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor and acts specifically on a type 2 isozyme to reduce blood serum DHT by 65-75% and prostate DHT by 85-95%. This inhibition then reduces androgen activity in the scalp which therefore reduces loss and encourages future hair growth.
The standard dose of Propecia is one tablet once a day via the mouth. This dose can be taken with or without food. Increasing this dose will not increase the improvement of hair loss symptoms. If you forget to take a tablet do not take two tablets in one day as patients are advised to miss the forgotten dose and just continue as normal with the medication routine. Hair loss will resume if treatment is ceased. The full effect of Propecia is reported to take up to one to two years.
It was reported that use of Propecia improved hair loss in men by as much as 30% over a six month period.
Side effects of this are generally rare and do not require patients to stop taking the medication as problems do tend to subside over the first initial weeks of treatment. Some of the most common side effects include skin rashes, itching and reduced male libido. However, in 1997 the FDA stated that in terms of reduced sex drive and sexual function side effects caused by Propecia would resolve as the patient continued to use the medication over time. Propecia does not affect hair growth on any other part of the body.
Assured Pharmacy is not liable for the currency or accuracy of the information contained in this blog post. For specific information about your personal medical condition, please contact our doctors or pharmacists for advice on [email protected].