Let’s Talk: Hair Loss

Losing hair isn’t usually anything to be too worried about, but it can be distressing.

Losing hair isn’t usually anything to be too worried about, but it can be distressing.

It is normal to lose hair – most people can lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, often without noticing. Occasionally, however, it can be a sign of a medical condition.

Some types of hair loss are permanent, like male and female pattern baldness, for example. This type of hair loss tends to run in families.

Other types of hair loss can be temporary – caused by an illness, stress, cancer treatment, weight loss or iron deficiency. Treatment may help with some types of hair loss.

Thinning hair – which vitamins help?

The quality of hair growth can be influenced by your diet. Supplements that include certain minerals needed stimulate hair growth are often advised for thinning hair and hair loss.

Additionally, the quality of your diet can be reflected in the quality of your hair, so it pays to eat a balanced diet and include foods such as oily fish, spinach and eggs.

The following supplements are advised for hair growth:

Iron

Those who are anaemic may start to see hair loss. If you think you may be anaemic but are unsure, pop to your GP.

Zinc

People who are deficient in zinc due to other medical conditions often have dry, brittle hair. For this reason, it is thought a supplement of zinc can help with the condition of your hair.

Zinc is an essential mineral for healthy hair, skin and nails. Taking a zinc supplement for hair loss will provide you with a generous amount of the mineral, as well as biotin, vitamin C and iron – other key nutrients for your hair.

Biotin

Biotin is a B vitamin, commonly recommended for healthy hair. Since hair loss is a symptom of a biotin deficiency, taking biotin supplements or using biotin-enriched hair products can thicken hair and stimulate hair (and nail) growth.

Male pattern baldness

What is it?

Androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern baldness, is the most common form of hair loss for both men and women. This type of hair loss can be caused by hormonal or hereditary factors. Patients with this condition experience hair loss with no signs of inflammation or scarring.

Who does it affect?

In men, male pattern baldness affects Caucasian men more than men of any other ethnicity. It can begin at any age, but statistics show that:

  • Approximately 30% of men will experience some hair loss by the age of 30
  • Approximately 50% of men will experience some hair loss by the age of 50
  • Approximately 80% of men will experience some hair loss by the age of 70

Up to 13% of premenopausal women experience some degree of male pattern baldness. This can increase significantly after menopause. By the age of 70, approximately 40%-50% of women experience hair loss.

Alopecia areata is another type of hair loss, involving patches of baldness that may come and go. This can occur at any age but mostly affects teenagers and young adults. 6 out of 10 people who are affected by this develop their first bald patch before the age of 20.

What causes it?

Hair loss – in the form of male pattern baldness – is often a genetic condition.

Male pattern baldness occurs when hair follicles convert testosterone into another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Affected hair follicles (generally at the sides and top of the head) become more sensitive to DHT, causing the hair follicles to shrink, weaken and eventually die.

This slows down hair production and can stop hair growth completely.

What are the treatments?

Minoxidil is available from Pharmacies without a prescription and is a lotion that you rub on your scalp daily. Evidence suggests that it can cause hair re-growth in some men.

Minoxidil usually needs to be used for at least 4 months before any effect is seen. The balding process will usually resume if treatment with minoxidil is stopped. Any new hair that regrows will fall out 2 months after treatment is stopped.

Finasteride is another medicine used in the UK for male pattern baldness but is only licensed in Ireland to treat Benign Prostatic Hypertrophy (BPH).

 

If you develop sudden hair loss you should make an appointment to see your GP. Ask our friendly CarePlus Pharmacists for advice should you need it.

 

Information from PAI (2020)



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