Hair Loss

All Sedem Pharmacies have a wide range of hair loss treatment.

What Is Hair Loss?

Hair grows everywhere on the Human Body except on the palms of our hands and the soles of our feet. Many hairs are so fine they are virtually invisible. Hair is made up of protein called keratin (the same protein in nails) produced in hair follicles in the outer layer of skin.

As follicles produce new hair cells, old cells are being pushed out through the surface of the skin at the rate of about 15cm a year. The hair you can see is actually a string of dead keratin cells. The average adult head has about 100,000 to 150,000 hairs and loses up to 100 of them a day and so finding stray hairs on your hairbrush is not necessarily cause for alarm.

At any one time about 90% if the hair on a person’s scalp is growing. Each follicle has its own life cycle that can be influenced by age, disease and a wide variety of other factors. This life cycle is divided into three phases:

  • Anagen - active hair growth. Lasts between two to six years.
  • Catagen - transitional. Lasts two to three weeks.
  • Telogen - resting phase. At the end of the resting phase (two to three months) the hair is shed and a new hair replaces it and the growing cycle starts again. As people age, their rate of hair growth slows.

Types of Hair Loss

There are several reasons for hair loss which are listed below:

  • Male-pattern baldness
  • Male-pattern baldness is the commonest type of hair loss. As well as affecting men, it can sometimes affect women (female-pattern baldness). It can be particularly difficult for both men and women to cope with.
  • Male- and female-pattern baldness follows a pattern of a receding hairline, followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples.
  • Male-pattern baldness is hereditary, which means it runs in families. It usually starts around the late twenties or early thirties. By their late thirties, most men have some degree of hair loss.
  • Male-pattern baldness is so called because it generally follows a set pattern. The first stage is usually a receding hairline, followed by thinning of the hair on the crown and temples. This can leave a horseshoe shape of hair around the back and sides of the head. Sometimes it can progress to complete baldness, although this is rare.

Alopecia Areata

Alopecia areata is another type of hair loss, involving patches of baldness that may come and go. It can occur at any age, but mostly affects teenagers and young adults. Six of 10 people who are affected develop their first bald patch before they are 20 years old.

Alopecia areata is thought to be caused by a problem with the immune system (the body’s natural defence against infection and illness). There is no proven effective treatment. In most cases the hair grows back after about a year.

Telogen Effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a common type of alopecia where there is widespread thinning of the hair, rather than specific bald patches. Hair is shed from the scalp, usually as a reaction to stress or medication. This type of hair loss tends to improve without treatment after a few months.

Treatments Available

Male-pattern baldness Two medicines are known to be effective in treating male-pattern baldness. They are:

  • minoxidil
  • finasteride

These are described below.


Minoxidil is available as a lotion that you rub on your scalp every day. It is available from pharmacies without a prescription.

The medication contains either 5% or 2% minoxidil. Some evidence suggests that the stronger version (5%) is more effective. However, the stronger version may cause more side effects, such as dryness or itchiness, where it is applied.

Minoxidil usually needs to be used for at least four months before any effect is seen. The balding process will usually resume if treatment with minoxidil is stopped. Any new hair that re-grows will fall out two months after treatment is stopped. Side effects are uncommon.

Minoxidil is the only ‘Over The Counter’ medicinal treatment clinically proven to re-grow hair.