Hair loss is very distressing and it's not just limited to men. It can occur as a natural part of the ageing process or be due to illness, trauma, medication and genetics. Sadly hair loss can have a dramatic impact on a person's self-confidence.
Androgenetic alopecia - or male pattern hair loss - happens to pretty much all men to some degree. Hair loss generally begins at the temples before the hairline gradually recedes. Significant hair loss affects about 20% - or one in five - of Australian men in their 20s. That figure may surprise you.
By their 30s about 30% of Australian men experience significant hair loss. This figure increases to 40% in their 40s.
It's important to put this in context. Most people naturally shed up to 150 hairs a day. It's just part of the hair growth cycle. This should not be confused with significant hair loss.
Female hair loss is much more common than you may think. In fact, if you are a mum, you may well have experienced some hair loss during pregnancy. It is estimated that more than 50% of women will experience some degree of hair loss during their lifetime.
Historically there were practically no solutions to hair loss, apart from wearing a wig. Lucky for us, there is now a good choice of hair loss treatment on the market. These range from natural therapies to hair transplants.
One word of warning: the internet is full of so-called miracle cures - very few are actually proven to get results. It is far better to go to a hair loss specialist.
Here are some popular Hair loss treatments:
Finasteride is a prescription medicine shown to prevent or slow down hair loss. It works by blocking an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes hair follicles to shrink. Side effects are uncommon but you may need to take the drug for at least a year to be effective.
For a herbal alternative to finasteride, you may like to try Saw Palmetto. Like finasteride, it is actually prescribed to treat an enlarged prostate but is also believed to help prevent hair loss.
Minoxidil is a topical treatment which should be applied to the scalp twice daily. It works best for people with recent or mild hair loss. It may take up to a year to see results and hair loss is likely to restart when you stop the medication.
Major advancements have been made in hair transplant surgery and it is now more readily available and more affordable. The procedure is usually done by removing a strip of scalp from the side or back of the head, separating the follicles and inserting them into the crown and temples.
Despite its increased availability, this is still quite an expensive option. It is essential to discuss this option with a professional.
Low-level laser therapy may also be an option for treating hair loss. The treatment may be combined with a course of minoxidil and finasteride, special shampoos and thickening conditioners.
Now far more efficient and natural-looking, hairpieces (wig or toupee) are an affordable alternative to hair loss treatments. They are excellent for covering a large area of thin or lost hair. Carefully matched to your own hair colour and texture, they can be undetectable to most people, even at the hairline.
There is ongoing maintenance, including cutting your natural hair and cleaning the hairpiece. Hairpieces last from six months to two years before needing replacement. For many people, it works out more cost effective to consider hair transplant surgery.
Find hair loss specialists in your locality by searching Bookwell.