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The Five Ws of Hair Loss

The five Ws of Hair loss

As a clinician I commonly come across questions from patients which are essential to ensure success of hair loss treatment. Hair loss is very common. In fact the onset of hair loss can occur from 20-25 years old and affects up to 80% of men during their life, with a frequency that increases with puberty age. As we know physical appearance and hair play a huge role in an individual’s confidence socially and culturally so here at The Family Chemist we want to ensure the treatments for hair loss is right for you.

Who can take hair loss medication?

Taking a detailed history to assess the severity and impact of hair loss is key to determine typical male androgenetic alopecia (medical term of hair loss) or a possible underlying cause/alternative diagnosis. Typically, male pattern hair loss occurs with temporal recession of the hair line (both sides) and thinning of the hair of the crown. The degree of hair loss can be assessed using the Hamilton-Norwood Scale.

What treatment can I get for hair loss?

Hair loss treatments include:


How do hair loss tablets work?

Finasteride is the active ingredient in Propecia. You can purchase both cheaper finasteride (generic)  compared to branded Propecia. Finasteride works by decreasing the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

A hair normally grows from each hair follicle for about three years, sheds and new hair grows from the follicle. DHT is a by product produced by the hair follicle and too much of it causes the hair follicle to shrink causing hair to grow thinner and shed more quickly. This eventually leads to a much smaller hair follicle and a thin hair that does not grow out to the skin surface. Finasteride prevents the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone. Therefore slows the progression and allows for regrowth. The treatment is only available for men and can also minimize and resolve hair thinning.

How long does it take for Finasteride to work?

Stabilization of hair loss can be expected following continuous use of Finasteride for 3-6 months. By the end of the year you should notice clear signs of hair regrowth. You will notice peak hair growth after 2 years, but treatment must be continued to maintain results. The beneficial effects begin to reverse by 6 months and return to before taking medication by 9-12 months.

Topical Hair Loss Treatment

Topical treatments of hair loss treatments include Minoxidil 5% solution and Minoxidil 5% cutaneous foam. Also known as Regaine for Men Extra Strength Scalp Solution and Regaine for Men Extra Strength Foam.

How does Minoxidil (Regaine) work?

Regaine has an active ingredient called Minoxidil. Minoxidil dilates the blood vessels encouraging more blood flow to the scalp and therefore delivering more nutrients and oxygen to promote hair growth, thickness and density.

The hair growth cycle has three phases: the growth phase, the transition phase and resting phase. In male pattern balding hairs do not spend much time in the growth stage which means the hair falls out much quicker. Minoxidil stimulate hair follicles from resting phase to the growth stage and increases the length of time hair spends in growth stage, leaving you with healthy dense hair growth.

How long does it take for Minoxidil to work?

You must use Minoxidil continuously for 2-4 months before evidence of hair regrowth is seen. Peak hair growth is achieved after 4 months but treatment must be continued to maintain results. As before the beneficial effects begin to reverse if treatment is stopped.

Other options

Other options include hairpieces, wigs, the use of hair styling, laser therapy, steroid injections, or hair transplantation.

When should I start hair loss treatment?

Data suggests that men who are younger who have been balding for a shorter period with smaller areas of baldness may respond to treatment sooner. However, there is no firm evidence and all responses to treatment are individual.

Where can I get hair loss treatment from?

Regaine (Minoxidil) is readily available over the counter from pharmacies. Finasteride is a prescription only medicine and can only be prescribed by a clinician. Unfortunately, all hair loss treatments are not available to prescribe from the NHS and therefore GPs will charge for a private consultation and a prescription. You will also pay for the medication from a pharmacy. However The Family Chemist clinician can prescribe both Finasteride (Propecia) and Regaine free of charge and only charge for the medicines and have it delivered to you in 24 hours.

Why you should not take hair loss treatments?

Hair loss may occur due to an underlying cause. Patients should visit the GP if they suffer from the following as treatment of the underlying cause normally allow hair to regrow:

• Any profound shedding or rapid onset of hair loss,
• absent or reduced eyebrows or eyelashes,
• inflammation, papules or pustules, scaling or scarring of the scalp, 
• Severe infection, iron deficiency or hypothyroidism
• Some medication such as antidepressants or anticoagulants.
• Change in diet or rapid weight loss.

Side effects of hair loss tablets

Finasteride and Propecia are generally well tolerated. We do not recommend finasteride to men who a hypersensitive to finasteride or who have severe liver disease. Common side effects of finasteride include: decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, and ejaculation disorder. Sexual dysfunction tends to occur during the first year of treatment and decreases with the duration of treatments and resolved when treatment is discontinued. Mood alterations have been reported and patients should stop taking the medication if feeling depressed or if you develop any suicidal ideation. You must speak to a clinician immediately if you experience a lump in your chest or breast. For full side effects please refer to the patient information leaflet.

Side effects of Minoxidil (Regaine)

Minoxidil solutions are generally well tolerated. We do not recommend minoxidil for patients with a history of sensitivity to minoxidil, ethanol or propylene glycol or with treated or untreated high blood pressure. Side effects include local redness, itching and flaking. Treatment should be discontinued if there is persistent redness or irritation of the scalp. The foam solution does not contain propylene glycol and may be more tolerable than the solution. Unwanted hair growth, for example, on the face, may occur and is caused by the product applied on areas other than the scalp. Care should be taken to apply the product only to the scalp. HINT: Apply a head covering to prevent spreading of the product. Treatment must be immediately discontinued if the patient experiences chest pain, palpitations, dizziness or fainting.


There is plenty of information from trusted sources across the web however I hope this blog above settles some of your concerns and allows you to make an informed decision with regards to your treatment. FinasterideMinoxidil (Regaine) and a Dual Combination Pack are readily available with quick dispatch from The Family Chemist. If there is any further information you require feel free to contact The Family Chemist clinician.

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