What can men do about baldness?
The most common type of hair loss in men is male pattern baldness. It’s a genetic condition that usually starts around the late 20s or early 30s, and affects around half of all men by 50 years of age. It’s caused when your hair follicles, the little cavities where each hair grows, shrink over time.
There are several over-the-counter remedies that claim to help, from caffeine shampoos to herbal supplements. The evidence for their efficacy is mixed. So what methods do work?
Hair transplants can be very effective but the procedure is generally expensive, costing between £1000 and £30,000.
Some forms of medication are likely to be recommended by your GP. These include products containing an active ingredient called Finasteride. This alters the levels of particular sex hormones. Studies suggest it can trigger hair regrowth in about two thirds of men with baldness.
A second active ingredient, Minoxidil, was discovered by chance in the 1950s when researchers were searching for a treatment for high blood pressure. It is thought to work by increasing blood flow when rubbed in to the scalp, which opens up the shrinking hair follicle. Used properly, this can be effective in about 80% of users, but requires long-term application.
Using either of these types of product every day can cost hundreds of pounds a year.
There is some evidence that certain foods could be beneficial for baldness. One study showed that a diet high in Omega 3 gradually reduced hair loss.
Baldness has also been linked with iron deficiency, so eating green, leafy veg like spinach, might also help.
As well as eating the right foods, research indicates that exercising more and reducing stress may slow down hair loss.