Hair Loss Treatments
Propecia is a daily hair loss treatment that stops testosterone being converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which causes the hair follicles to shrink. This causes male pattern baldness because the hair follicles shrink to such a small size that when hair falls out, new hair can't grow through the follicles. Blocking DHT allows hair follicles to return to their normal size, so hair can start growing again.
In medical trials 99% of men who took Propecia didn't experience any further hair loss, and two-thirds of them actually saw their hair grow back.
Aside from its effectiveness, Propecia is also a popular male pattern baldness treatment because it causes few side effects, though about two in every 100 men who use Propecia experience a loss of sex drive.
Topical steroids and steroid tablets
There are a number of creams and ointments that are widely prescribed for alopecia areata. Evidence suggests they protect the hair follicles from damage which allows the hair to grow, but the long-term benefits are not yet known.
This lotion is sold as Regaine, which is one of the few over the counter treatments proven to help with hair loss. After two to three months of applying the lotion to the scalp several times a week, regrowth can be stimulated. However, it can take up to a year for the biggest benefit to be seen, and Regaine needs to be consistently applied to keep the effects visible.
Anti-androgens are drugs that contain hormones which block the action of DHT to stop or slow down hair loss. Some anti-androgens are similar to oral contraceptives and female hormone replacement therapy. A hormone specialist or dermatologist should supervise the use of anti-androgens.
Immunotherapy involves applying a chemical solution called diphencyprone (DPCP) to an area of bald skin. It needs to be repeated once a week with the concentration of the solution increasing each time until the skin reacts with the DPCP and mild eczema develops.
People with male pattern baldness usually see hair growth within 12 weeks. However, there is a chance that you could have a severe skin reaction to the solution or develop a rash or patch-coloured skin.
UV light treatment
UV light treatment involves two to three sessions of light therapy every week, which exposes the skin to UVA rays. It's not a popular hair loss treatment, because it can take up to a year for the effects to be seen. It can also result in some severe side effects, such as increasing the risk of skin cancer, as well as causing nausea and pigment changes, which is why it's not a recommended hair loss treatment.
Hair transplant surgery
Surgery does offer a long term solution to male pattern baldness; however, it's expensive and brings with it a number of risks. Hair loss treatment procedures involve moving the skin on your scalp around so any bald patches are minimised. It's important to consider that your hair loss could continue around the reconstructed areas, which may result in the need to have additional surgery.