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Causes and treatments for thinning hair in men

Causes and treatments for thinning hair in men

Thinning hair in men is common and can be caused by many different things. The good news is that, in some cases, thinning hair may only be temporary and could resolve itself within a few months. In other cases, thinning hair may be caused by a long-term condition which may or may not be treatable.

Why is my hair thinning?

Other than ageing, thinning hair is also something that can happen due to illness, stress, hormonal changes or certain medications. In this case the thinning of your hair is likely to be temporary.

For other people, however, thinning hair or patchy hair loss may require medical attention.

Is thinning hair normal with age?

In many cases, thinning hair does not have to be a cause for concern. This is because it is a natural part of the ageing process later in life.  Hair loss is to be expected and should therefore not cause too much alarm when it begins to happen.

What causes thinning hair?

Male pattern baldness

If you are a man experiencing hair loss in the form of a receding hairline and thinning on the crown of the head, it is likely that you are suffering from male pattern baldness. This is the most common type of hair loss (affecting approximately half of all men over 50). It typically affects the crown (top of head) and front of the head (above the temples). There is no cure for thinning hair caused by male pattern baldness but there are successful treatments. For more information on successful prescription treatments, visit our online hair loss clinic.

Female pattern baldness

If you are a woman experiencing thinning hair, it may be that you are suffering from female pattern baldness. This type of hair loss cannot be treated using finasteride (used for male pattern baldness). However, it can be treated using minoxidil, a foam or lotion rubbed into the scalp once or twice a day.

Alopecia areata

Some people may not find that their hair is thinning, but that it is falling out in patches. This type of hair loss is called alopecia areata, and is a so called auto immune condition, it can also be caused or triggered by stress, but often we don't know why it happens. The good news is that this type of hair loss often resolves itself within a few months, leading to regrowth. In other cases, it leads to more severe forms of hair loss which cannot be reversed. Alopecia areata can be treated with minoxidil, light therapy and corticosteroids, amongst other treatments.

Telogen effluvium

In some cases, thinning hair can be caused by hormonal changes, stress, illness, changes in your diet or certain medications. This is known as telogen effluvium and is characterised by slight - and temporary - hair loss on the head. A more serious version is known as anagen effluvium, in which there is widespread hair loss across the body. This is commonly caused by chemotherapy and radiotherapy and usually stops after treatment has ceased.

Will thinning hair caused by stress grow back?

As explained above telogen effluvium, the loss of hair due to stress, illness, changes to diet or hormones, is likely to be temporary and the hair will grow back. Even the more serious anagen effluvium, which causes hair loss across the body (often caused by cancer treatments) will usually stop once treatment has come to an end. 

Treatments for thinning hair - can hair be restored?

Finasteride

The most effective treatment for thinning hair caused by male pattern baldness, is Finasteride. Finasteride works by disrupting the effects of the male hormone DHT upon the hair follicles. In one study, 90% of the men who took a tablet containing 1mg of finasteride every day for six months experienced the halting of hair loss. 

Minoxidil

Another treatment for thinning hair is minoxidil. This is a medicine available over the counter in pharmacies and online. It can be used to treat male pattern baldness, female pattern baldness and in some cases, alopecia areata. 

It's thought that as many as 8 or 9/10 men will see some improvement and can lead to the halting of hair loss and regrowth when used correctly. Minoxidil comes as a foam or lotion and must be rubbed into the scalp once or twice a day for around four months before effects are seen. Like finasteride, hair loss will resume after treatment with minoxidil has ceased. One of the most common brands of Minoxidil is Regaine, so you might hear it referred to as this, but there are also other brands available in Ireland. 

Products for thinning hair 

Hair loss shampoos

Many brands of hair loss shampoo are available in high street pharmacies, but there is little evidence to suggest that they actually work. These sorts of products may improve the overall health of your hair, but are unlikely to affect how it grows.

Supplements for thinning hair 

Hair loss vitamins are nutritional supplements. They aim to improve the quality of hair and treat male pattern baldness. If you think a vitamin deficiency is the cause of your hair loss, taking a supplement may be effective.

Other treatments

In the case of alopecia areata, the treatment options are different. These include injections of corticosteroids, topical corticosteroids, immunotherapy and light therapy. These will vary in effectiveness and - as with finasteride and minoxidil - are treatments not cures.

What is the best treatment for thinning hair?

The most effective treatment for hair loss for men is Finasteride. These treatments are not suitable for women. 

Depending on your hair loss, you might find that minoxidil shampoo, will help manage your thinning hair. You can get both male and female versions of the shampoo so this might be a good option for women who can’t take Finasteride. 

Hair thinning treatment for females

Other than Regaine for Women, unfortunately, there aren’t any treatment options for women experiencing hair loss. Wigs, steroid injections or hair transplants might be options for some.

If you’re a man currently suffering from male pattern baldness, you may be able to effectively treat your thinning hair by using prescription treatments. Visit our online clinic to learn more. Alternatively, you will find plenty of hair loss advice in the advice hub

Looking for hair loss treatment?

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References

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022202X15529357
https://www.regaine.ie/hair-growth-results
https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/hair-loss/

Authors and editors

Reviewed and updated by: Our clinical team Date reviewed: 30-09-2023