Causes of hair loss
It's normal to lose hair. We can lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, often without noticing.
Hair loss isn't usually anything to be worried about, but occasionally it can be a sign of a medical condition.
Some types of hair loss are permanent, like male and female pattern baldness. This type of hair loss usually runs in the family.
Other types of hair loss may be temporary. They can be caused by:
- an illness
- cancer treatment
- weight loss
- iron deficiency
When to get medical help
See a GP if:
- you have sudden hair loss
- you develop bald patches
- you're losing hair in clumps
- your head also itches and burns
- you're worried about your hair loss
What happens at your appointment
Your GP should be able to tell you what's causing your hair loss by looking at your hair.
Tell your GP if your hair loss is affecting your wellbeing, and ask what treatments are available.
See your GP first to get a clear and accurate idea of what's causing your hair loss before thinking about going to a commercial hair clinic, which can be expensive.
Treatment for hair loss
Most hair loss doesn't need treatment and is either:
- temporary and it'll grow back
- a normal part of getting older
Hair loss caused by a medical condition usually stops or grows back once you have recovered.
There are things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress. But most treatments aren't available on the NHS, so you'll have to pay for them.
No treatment is 100% effective.
Finasteride and minoxidil
Finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.
Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women shouldn't use finasteride.
- don't work for everyone
- only work for as long as they're used
- aren't available on the NHS
- can be expensive
Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.
- last 6 to 9 months
- are easier to look after than real-hair wigs
- can be itchy and hot
- cost less than real-hair wigs
- last 3 to 4 years
- are harder to look after than synthetic wigs
- look more natural than synthetic wigs
- cost more than synthetic wigs
Other hair loss treatments
|Steroid injection||injections given into bald patches|
|Steroid creams||cream applied to bald patches|
|Immunotherapy||chemical applied to bald patches|
|Light treatment||shining ultraviolet light on bald patches|
|Tattooing||tattoo used to look like short hair and eyebrows|
|Hair transplant||hair cells are moved to thinning patches|
|Scalp reduction surgery||sections of scalp with hair are stretched and stitched together|
|Artificial hair transplant||surgery to implant artificial hairs|
Some of these treatments may not be available on the NHS.
Losing hair can be upsetting. For many people, hair is an important part of who they are.
If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling.
You may also benefit from joining a support group, or speaking to other people in the same situation on online forums.
Try these online support groups: