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Hair loss

Written on:2021-02-04
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Hair loss

  • Hair loss

  • Losing your hair is not usually anything to be worried about, but it can be upsetting. Treatment may help with some types of hair loss.

    Causes of hair loss

    It's normal to lose hair. We can lose between 50 and 100 hairs a day, often without noticing.

    Hair loss is not usually anything to be worried about, but occasionally it can be a sign of a medical condition.

    Some types of hair loss are permanent, like male and female pattern baldness. This type of hair loss usually runs in the family.

    Other types of hair loss may be temporary. They can be caused by:

    • an illness

    • stress

    • cancer treatment

    • weight loss

    • iron deficiency

    Find out more about cancer and hair loss

    See a GP if:

    • you have sudden hair loss

    • you develop bald patches

    • youre losing hair in clumps

    • your head also itches and burns

    • youre worried about your hair loss

    The GP should be able to tell you what's causing your hair loss by looking at your hair.

    Tell them if your hair loss is affecting your wellbeing, and ask what treatments are available.


    See a GP to get a clear idea about what's causing your hair loss before thinking about going to a commercial hair clinic.

    Treatment for hair loss

    Most hair loss does not need treatment and is either:

    • temporary and it'll grow back

    • a normal part of getting older

    Hair loss caused by a medical condition usually stops or grows back once you've recovered.

    There are things you can try if your hair loss is causing you distress. But most treatments are not available on the NHS, so you'll have to pay for them.

    No treatment is 100% effective.

    Finasteride and minoxidil

    Finasteride and minoxidil are the main treatments for male pattern baldness.

    Minoxidil can also be used to treat female pattern baldness. Women should not use finasteride.

    These treatments:

    • do not work for everyone

    • only work for as long as they're used

    • are not available on the NHS

    • can be expensive


    Some wigs are available on the NHS, but you may have to pay unless you qualify for financial help.

    Synthetic wigs:

    • last 6 to 9 months

    • are easier to look after than real-hair wigs

    • can be itchy and hot

    • cost less than real-hair wigs

    Real-hair wigs:

    • last 3 to 4 years

    • are harder to look after than synthetic wigs

    • look more natural than synthetic wigs

    • cost more than synthetic wigs

    Find out more about NHS wigs and costs

    Some of these treatments may not be available on the NHS.

    Emotional help
    Treatment Description
    Steroid injection Injections given into bald patches
    Steroid creams Cream applied to bald patches
    Immunotherapy Chemical applied to bald patches
    Light treatment Shining ultraviolet light on bald patches
    Tattooing Tattoo used to look like short hair and eyebrows
    Hair transplant Hair is removed from the back of the head and moved to thinning patches
    Scalp reduction surgery Sections of scalp with hair are stretched and stitched together
    Artificial hair transplant Surgery to implant artificial hairs

    Some of these treatments may not be available on the NHS.

    Losing hair can be upsetting. For many people, their hair is an important part of who they are.

    If your hair loss is causing you distress, your GP may be able to help you get some counselling.

    You may also benefit from joining a support group, or speaking to other people in the same situation on online forums.

    Find a support group near you on the Alopecia UK website

    Further information and support



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