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In men hair usually starts to disappear from the crown and temples. It can be quite alarming when this starts, especially if it's in your late teens. Male baldness tends to be inherited and is caused by an excess of a chemical called dihydrotesterone or DHT. Hair follicles become thinner and thinner until they disappear completely. Stress, thyroid problems and anaemia can also cause baldness although these are more likely to be temporary conditions that will improve once the condition is treated.
For women a condition known as telogen can cause hair loss. It is usually a reaction to stress or sometimes medication. In these cases, rather than a bald spot, the hair gets thinner all over the scalp. Usually the hair will recover after around six months. Some women also suffer from a type of hair loss known as androgenetic alopecia. This is often an inherited condition and is related to hormone levels in the body.
What are the treatments?
Minoxidil or Regaine is an over the counter solution which is applied directly to the scalp. It is unclear exactly why the treatment works as it was first used to treat heart problems. It may be that the blood supply is increased to the hair follicles.
Up to two thirds of men who use the product notice some improvement in hair growth. Results differ between moderate re-growth to thicker results and it can take up to a year to see the full benefit. The downside is that you will need to use the treatment permanently to stop the balding process starting again. The cost is around £59.95 for a three month supply but consult with your doctor first.
Finasteride is an oral treatment for baldness with the brand name of Propecia. It is only available privately and you need to speak to your doctor if you are thinking of trying it. It works by preventing the action of a male hormone that leads to the production of DHT. It's taken in the form of a tablet and is effective in eighty per cent of men but may take up to six months before results can be seen.
It can be expensive at £35.00 per month and you will need to take the medication continually to prevent the baldness returning. If you stop taking the drug, you are likely to lose any hair you have gained within nine to 12 months.
Revivogen is a scalp therapy treatment that uses natural ingredients, promotes healthy hair growth and combats the causes of hair loss. The treatment can take around four to six weeks to show results. The cost of the treatment is £65.00 for three months.
In the case of surgery small areas of skin containing a few follicles of hair are taken from another part of the body (such as the back of the head) and implanted into the balding areas. This treatment is less successful in women as they tend have hair loss all over the scalp.
There has been some research that shows that Caffeine may act as a stimulator of human hair growth. The substance may block follicle damaging chemicals in the body. Before you reach for the coffee pot it's worth noting that doctors estimate you would need to drink 60 cups or more to have an effect. There are some direct caffeine based treatments available that can help with hair restoration.
There are a number of hair replacement systems to choose from. Sometimes known as units, these can be wigs, toupees or hair pieces made from a number of materials including human hair, wool or synthetic material.