Is there a cure for hair loss?
Reviewed by our clinical team - 26.9.22
Hair loss is something that affects a huge proportion of men, and yet unfortunately there is no cure. Though you may have heard of certain medicines such as Finasteride or minoxidil, it is far more accurate to think of these medicines as effective long-term treatments.
Male pattern baldness
Male pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss, affecting around half of all men over the age of 50. It is characterised by a receding hairline, and the thinning of the hair on the temples and crown. This type of hair loss typically does not affect the hair on the sides or back of the head.
Male pattern baldness is caused by the male hormone DHT and usually begins to affect men in their late twenties or early thirties - although some men begin to experience it at an even earlier age.
Is there a cure for baldness
Unfortunately there is currently no permanent cure for male pattern baldness. However, there are treatments that are proven to delay and even reverse the effects of male pattern baldness, with continual use. Below is a list of the most clinically effective treatments:
The most effective treatment for male pattern baldness currently available in Ireland is Finasteride.
Finasteride comes in the form of a tablet and works by inhibiting the formation of DHT, a hormone which permanently damages hair follicles. They are only appropriate for use as a male pattern baldness treatment and must be taken once a day for as long as you want to try and treat your hair loss. It might take three-six months though before you see a change in your hair.
In one study, 90% of men with mild to moderate hair loss saw positive effects after taking finasteride for six months, with hair loss stopping and in some cases even reversing.
Finasteride is therefore very effective while it is being taken, but will not continue to have an effect after treatment has ceased. Around a year after you have finished taking Finasteride, you can expect your hair loss to have resumed and any hair regrowth to have fallen out. For this reason, it's not a 'cure' so much as an effective ongoing treatment.
Minoxidil can be bought over the counter, unlike Finasteride, and comes in the form of a lotion, foam or cream that is rubbed into the scalp every day.
Minoxidil is less effective than Finasteride but is still a viable option for men seeking treatment. It's also suitable for use by women, and can be used to treat alopecia areata.
However, as with Finasteride, any beneficial effects will cease once treatment has stopped.
Are there cures for other types of hair loss?
Female pattern baldness
Along with male pattern baldness, there is also a condition known as female pattern baldness, in which hair thins on the top of the head. Less is known about this type of hair loss, but it is more common in women who have been through the menopause.
Female pattern baldness cannot be treated with Finasteride, but it can be treated with minoxidil. Minoxidil is rubbed into the scalp once or twice a day and should start to show results after about four months.
Another type of hair loss is alopecia areata, in which hair on the head (and sometimes on the body) falls out in patches. In most cases this type of hair loss resolves itself within a few months, however in some cases it can lead to more severe forms of hair loss such as alopecia totalis (loss of all hair on the scalp) or alopecia universalis (loss of all hair on the body).
Alopecia areata is most common in people aged 15-29 and there are various treatments for it: minoxidil, corticosteroid injections, topical corticosteroid creams or lotions, dithranol cream, immunotherapy and light therapy. However none of these can be thought of as a cure for alopecia areata, as they are only temporary solutions.
Is it safe to buy hair loss treatments online?
It can be safe provided you use registered, regulated healthcare or pharmaceutical services. Lloyds Online Doctor offers prescriptions for Finasteride for men with male pattern baldness through a safe and discreet online prescription service. You can also order minoxidil online from most online pharmacies.
It’s worth bearing in mind that hair loss shampoos and supplements aren’t necessarily a worthwhile expenditure if you are suffering from hair loss. Though they may help to improve the look, health and quality of your hair, it is unlikely they will halt hair loss or stimulate regrowth.
You should also be very wary of buying so-called “miracle hair loss cures” from unregulated sites. The products they are offering may be cheap, but if they have not been prescribed to you legally by a medical professional then they could be detrimental to your health.