Man loosing hair

By the age of 35, 66% of men will have experienced hair loss. Perhaps more shockingly, 25% will suffer with the condition prior to the age of 21. 95% of the time, this is caused by androgenetic alopecia (or common male pattern baldness).

Unfortunately, the condition is so commonly overlooked by others that sufferers feel embarrassed at their own circumstances. This societal assumption of “going bald is nothing to be afraid of” damages the mental health of those affected as well as their wellbeing – impacting their confidence, and their careers and home lives as a result.

In a search for a solution to their condition, men impacted by male pattern baldness find themselves at the mercy of miracle cures, expensive treatment plans and cosmetic procedures. Therefore, our pharmacists have provided an overview below of the various alternatives available to males suffering from hair loss.

Caffeine-based shampoos

Male checking hair in mirror

It is important to remember that male pattern baldness is genetic and not caused by trauma or disease like other forms of hair loss. One leading theory is that your hair follicles are governed by a hormone called DHT. As you get older, DHT starts to shrink your hair by attaching itself to the follicles, making them finer until they struggle to grow at all.

According to producers of shampoos such as Alpecin, caffeine plays a role in stimulating hair growth. They argue that caffeine targets the chemical DHT, preventing it from blocking the necessary vitamins which perpetuate the hair’s growth cycle. However, while caffeine has been shown to not contribute to baldness, it is not proven to promote growth either.

In fact, in the UK, Alpecin were banned from claiming their product helped to reduce hair loss. The UK-based Advertising Standards Authority issued the ban, stating that they had seen no evidence by consumers “in a well-designed and well-conducted trial” which demonstrated growth.

Minoxidil cream solutions

Originally used as a tablet to treat hypertension, Minoxidil promotes hair growth in both men and women. It is the main ingredient in Rogaine, a lotion that is applied directly to the scalp and considered one of two proven solutions outside of hair transplants. Rogaine claims to work by dilating the blood vessels on the scalp to promote the function of follicles.

Given that Minoxidil was originally administered as a vasodilator, it stands to reason that it would be effective in dilating blood vessels of the scalp. However, the process by which it promotes the growth of new hair is unknown. The issue that most users have with Rogaine is that it must be administered twice daily, indefinitely. Additionally, the results are not expected to occur until 4-6 months of twice-daily usage, if at all.

Considering this, a common pain point is cost – not to mention the fact that it could not have the desired effect. Unlike Alpecin, however, there is some statistical basis for Rogaine’s claims. In 1987, a test which led to the drug’s approval found that 40% of male participants had moderate to dense hair growth on the crown of their head. Following the trial, 62% of said men reported a reduction in hair loss and 16% claimed Rogaine to be highly effective in regrowth.

Laser treatment

Another treatment for hair loss outside of transplant surgery is laser therapy. Low-level laser therapy (also known as red light therapy) is a non-invasive method of stimulating the follicles on your head in order to restart the growth cycle. The photons applied via the laser are absorbed by weak cells on the head to encourage hair growth.

While each appointment can be costly, the fees involved are typically less than going down the transplant route. In addition, for those anxious about undergoing a transplant procedure, laser therapy is understood to be both safe and effective among some individuals. In fact, in a 2013 study, 41 males between the ages of 18 and 48 found that the treatment demonstrated a 39% increase in regrowth.

However, there are a small number of drawbacks. Most importantly of all, it may not be effective for everyone. Considering the price, patients would arguably appreciate a higher chance of success than what laser therapy can offer. In addition, the sessions are lengthy and typically occur weekly for the rest of your life – a considerable commitment for the average sufferer of male pattern baldness.

Propecia medication

Propecia (or finasteride) works by blocking the enzyme 5α-Reductase from converting testosterone to DHT. The less DHT you produce, the less likely you are to suffer hair loss. The drug is taken as a tablet and will require three months of daily usage before showing any noticeable effects. In the coming weeks of taking the drug, you will notice some shedding – this is a sign that the medication is working and restarting the hair cycle.

Unlike the other treatments on this list, it has been found that the drug both slows hair loss progression and increases hair growth over a period of two years. Once you stop taking medication, however, the effects will begin to fade and your hair loss will resume.

Due to the convenience of this medication and its higher likelihood of success, our pharmacists would recommend this solution to those looking for a treatment for male hair loss.

At Medix Pharmacy, our aim is to bring clarity to the male pattern baldness conversation. If you would be interested in hearing more about the products featured on this list or how they can work together to help you, please get in touch.