Hair loss is a common issue, especially for men as they reach middle age. In the majority of cases, thinning hair in men is caused by androgenetic alopecia, more commonly known as male pattern baldness. It’s a genetic condition that is caused by a reaction to the hormone testosterone that causes the hair follicles to die.

Male pattern baldness typically starts with a receding hairline, followed by thinning hair on the crown and temples.  Eventually, the scalp may become entirely bald. There is no cure for the condition, but there are clinically approved treatments available. Two of the most commonly used treatments are finasteride and minoxidil. 

Finasteride is a prescription medication that is sold under the brand name Propecia, or it can be bought as a generic medicine. It is in the form of an oral tablet, and it reduces the rate at which testosterone is converted into DHT, which is the hormone responsible for hair loss in men. 

It is only designed to treat male pattern baldness, and it will not help with hair loss caused by other issues such as stress, illness, medication, or vitamin deficiency. To be effective, it should be taken according to the prescriber’s instructions for at least four months. It can slow the progression of hair loss, and in some cases stimulate regrowth.

It’s also a good strategy to take a holistic approach to your hair health to maximise the effectiveness of the treatment. Here are some tips and suggestions.

Pay attention to nutrition

Nutrition plays an important role in our hair health, so optimising your diet will help to support thicker and stronger hair growth. Hair is made up of protein, so ensure that you include several sources of protein such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy products, and nuts and seeds in your diet. 

Iron deficiency is also linked to thinning hair. Include iron-rich foods in your diet such as lean red meat, spinach, salmon, and dried fruit that is dark in colour such as prunes and raisins. Omega-3 fatty acids can help to nourish the hair and support fuller growth. It is present in oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, flaxseeds, and some types of nut. 

Take care of your scalp

The health of our scalp can sometimes be overlooked, but it’s important to maintain it, particularly if you are prone to issues such as dryness, flakiness, or oiliness, as this can block the hair follicles and inhibit the growth of new hair. 

Use gentle hair care products that do not contain harsh chemicals such as sulphates, alcohol, or fragrances, as these can draw moisture out of the skin, leaving it dry and flaky. Wash your hair gently, and do not overwash or leave it until your scalp feels too greasy or dirty. Massage can help with blood circulation and may help to stimulate hair growth.

Manage stress levels

Stress can contribute to hair loss, because it can push the majority of your hair follicles into the resting phase, while it continues to shed. Because the shedding hairs are not replaced by new growth, the hair can appear thinner and finer than usual. 

Take steps to manage your stress levels, if this is something you are prone to. Some elements of stress can be beneficial to help us stay motivated and overcome difficulties, but chronic stress can permanently elevate cortisol levels in the body. This can lead to a range of serious health conditions such as hypertension, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Stress can be managed by exercising regularly, which can also boost circulation and improve the blood supply to the hair follicles. Exercise also improves the quality of sleep, which is essential for good mental health. Ideally, aim to have around seven to nine hours of sleep per night. 

Other useful strategies for managing stress include practising good time management, learning meditation techniques such as mindfulness, setting more realistic goals and expectations, eating well, and making time for activities that you enjoy.

Consistent treatment

It’s important to be consistent with your hair loss treatment, even if you do not see immediate results. The products can take time to work, and recovery may be slow to begin with. Be persistent and patient, because for most people it will take at least four months to see the best results.