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Treatment Baldness

People have always been surprisingly gullible where treatment of baldness is concerned. Such was her vanity that Queen Victoria was driven to drink silver birch wine, made from the rising sap and because she believed it would cure her baldness. Even now in an image conscious age, when the masculine icon of the moment, footballer David Beckham, can voluntarily surrender his trademark disheveled blond fringe for a shaven head, hair loss is refusing to become fashionable.

A heavy weight political writer went so far as to say that William Hague wouldn't get elected Prime Minister because of his baldness. Neil Kinnock, previously rejected for the post, agreed and he hasn't got much on top either. For a very small number of men, it becomes a big issue. It is often but not always younger men, he says, who are so alarmed by their hair thinning that they go to a doctor asking what can be done about it.

Most doctors believe that because the treatment options are so limited, balding men should think deeply before using any remedies. It isn't a life-threatening condition and it is easy to spend a lot of money unsuccessfully attempting to restore a full head of hair. But it is a matter about how the man losing his hair feels, rather than how others think he ought to feel. His whole life can begin revolving around something that would be a small problem to the average bloke. There are only two ways to deal with baldness currently available in the US which the evidence shows work to at least some extent.

Treatment options for Baldness


Minoxidil is sold over the counter as a topical solution, to be applied twice a day. About two-thirds of the men who use it have some improvement in their hair growth, ranging from minimal regrowth to moderate to dense regrowth after four months of use. It depends on how bad the hair loss has been and how long it has been happening. It is not possible to forecast how effective minoxidil will be or who it will help. There is no evidence that it works better for younger men because of their age. They may get better results because their hair loss is not that severe and has only recently started but this would apply to a man in middle age too.

The regrowth of hair could be as much as 20 or 25 per cent of the existing hair. A higher strength version of the preparation, Minoxidil extra strength, has a slightly better effect. The first sign of new hair begins to show after two months and it peaks at around one year. In trials comparing the two strengths, Minoxidil extra produced 43 per cent more regrowth than the regular strength after 12 months use.

Twice daily applications of minoxidil need to be continued for continued hair growth. Regrown hair may begin to disappear three to four months after stopping treatment and the balding process will start again.

It can become a bit of a bind rubbing it into the scalp twice a day after it has stopped improving and you can't see anything happening. The price depends on the strength and quantity of Minoxidil being purchased. It is a safe drug and the only side effect is occasional irritation of the scalp and the growth of hair on other parts of the body which is not enough to worry men. However, it isn't known how minoxidil works. It was first used on patients with heart disease who reported an increased growth in their hair. This has led people to speculate that it may increase the blood supply to the hair follicles.

Some people have noticed that when they first use minoxidil, the loss of hair actually increases. Later, if the hair starts to regrow, it will probably be soft, downy and barely visible. However, with continued use of minoxidil, this new hair may become the same color and thickness as the rest of your hair. It isn't known why it works for some people and not others.


Finasteride is an oral treatment for male pattern baldness now available on private prescription in the UK. It works by inhibiting the action of an enzyme in the body called type II 5-alpha reductase. This enzyme is responsible for converting the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT is a hormone that can damage hair follicles and lead to hair loss in men who are genetically sensitive to it.

Finasteride is effective in about 80 per cent of men, though it may take three to six months of treatment before a decrease in hair loss or increase in hair density is noticed. Continued use is recommended to obtain the maximum benefit and this can be expensive, as doctors can only prescribe the medicine on a private prescription. The cost again depends on the strength and quantity of Finasteride being purchased. If you stop taking the drug you are likely to lose any hair you have gained within 9 to 12 months.

Potential side effects of Finasteride include some sexual problems, such as a decrease in sex drive and temporary impotence. Women cannot take the treatment, nor should they handle any crushed or broken Finasteride tablets, as the active ingredient can cause feminization of a male fetus in pregnant women.

Hair replacement grafts

Another approach to combating baldness is to transplant the hair from the back of the scalp where it usually grows abundantly in bald men, especially younger men. It is transplanted to the bald patch where it grows in the same manner as if it were still on the donor site. The minor operation is under local anesthetic and can be done in several stages or in one mega session where thousands of hairs are involved.

The hair is now usually moved in micrografts - small groups of hairs – to get a more natural look. This is designed to avoid it resembling a conifer plantation or the doll's head effect. A good result depends entirely on the surgeon's skill. The cost will be in thousands rather than hundreds. There are seen some fairly good results but they never look completely natural. 'The side effects are the usual surgical risks of infection and scarring. The main problem is that the man may not be pleased with the results and unfortunately, he is stuck with it. There is no known way of reversing this procedure and he won't necessarily go bald again. The hairs will grow on in the same way as the hairs at the back of the head which most men keep forever.

Many people offer treatments which have no scientific basis. Men wishing to restore their hair should stay well clear of them and get advice from doctors. Then they will be advised by people who are highly trained in their field, not salesmen with no medical background whatsoever.' He also feels that these men should be supported, given counseling and not belittled.

Plastic surgery for hair loss

Plastic surgery may be the only reliable way to replace lost hair, and techniques for restoring hair growth are constantly improving. These include:

Hair transplant, where the surgeon moves non-sensitive hairs from the back of the head to the top. This is best for men whose hair loss is limited to the front of the scalp. Factors that determine whether a person is a suitable candidate include age, hair color, the nature of hair loss, and whether the hair type is straight or curly.

Scalp reduction, a technique that is most suitable for men with a small, well-defined bald spot on the top of the head.

Flap-surgery, which involves making the part of the scalp that still, contains hair larger. This is a possibility in cases of hair loss over a small area.

Cautionary measures for hair loss

Certain medicines that are applied to the skin can increase the permeability of the skin. These include corticosteroids such as hydrocortisone, retinoids such as isotretinoin or tretinoin, dithranol, urea and Vaseline. For instance, you should not use Minoxidil if you are using any other medicines on your scalp, because they might cause more of it to be absorbed through the skin into the bloodstream. This could increase the risk of any side effects.

You should also not use Minoxidil if you are taking any medicines for high blood pressure. This because there is a theoretical risk that it could enhance the effect of the blood pressure medication and make you feel dizzy. So it is always advisable to keep in constant touch with your physician.