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Do baldness treatments really work?

Credit: Kaicho20/Pixabay

Shampoo, food supplements, surgery… the baldness treatment industry rakes in millions of pounds each year but do treatments really work, or are we throwing our money down the toilet?  

Baldness problems affect an increasing number of people globally.  Although it is a physical problem, it can sometimes lead to disastrous effects on the mental health of those affected.  This is why those affected wait hopefully for a miracle treatment while scientists keep researching.  However can we really find a treatment that works?  Or do we just have to put up with this unfortunate situation?

An average person loses around 50 and 100 hairs per day.  Normally our hair grows back but if the ability of our hair follicles is hindered, our hair can start to thin and fall out.  Several causes can stop our hair from growing back including, hormones, stress, a bad diet or even genetics. In this article we’ll look at the most common form of baldness called androgenetic alopecia.

Are treatments available for treating baldness?

The answer is, yes. A lot of the treatments are ineffective but some have been proven to workMinoxidil, a medicine used to treat high blood pressure, can be applied directly onto the scalp.  It stimulates the hair follicles and therefore encourages hair growth.  It has been shown that the medicine strengthens the hair (as was the case for 66% of those tested) and increases it’s regrowth  (33% of those tested) for both men and women.  However you need to use this medicine two times per day on your scalp which is rather constricting.

Finasteride medicine which is in the shops under the name of Propecia prevents the creation of certain hormones or enzymes which encourage baldness in men.  Apparently the treatment noticeably thickened the hair of 50 to 60 % of those affected.  However some people described very undesirable side effects such as erection difficulties.  As mentioned before, the treatment must be taken regularly for there to be noticeable results which mean you need to take a tablet three times per day.

Opting for a transplant…

What are hair transplants?  The idea consists of removing the hair follicles of the parts of the scalp where there is still some hair growth and to implant them into the areas with less hair. The procedure can be effective but if hair loss is genetically related then your new hair growth will only be temporary.  It should also be mentioned that the procedure is very expensive, costing several thousand pounds depending on health centre.

What about baldness shampoos?

You shouldn’t rely too heavily on vitamins and supplements found in shampoos and food supplements which claim to regenerate hair growth.   In general the effectiveness of these supplements have not been checked even though they are allowed to be sold in the shops.  Although these products are on the market it does not mean that they are effective at treating hair loss.

Although no simple and really effective treatment is so far available, research into the subject still continues. Finding a cure for baldness would be a bit like hitting the jackpot as  millions of people around the world are affected. Recently, researchers at the University of Manchester suggested that a chemical product designed to mimic the smell of sandalwood would be able to stimulate hair follicles. However this study only involved samples being taken which were then studied in the laboratory. Although nothing is very concrete at the moment, this find is promising.

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