Hair loss

Losing your hair isn't 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 isn't 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

See a GP if:

  • you have sudden hair loss
  • you develop bald patches
  • you're losing hair in clumps
  • your head also itches and burns
  • you're worried about your hair loss

What happens at your appointment

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

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

See your GP first to get a clear and accurate idea of what's causing your hair loss before thinking about going to a commercial hair clinic, which can be costly.

Treatment for hair loss

Most hair loss doesn't need treatment and is either:

  • temporary and it will 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. However, most treatments are not available on the NHS so you will 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:

  • don't work for everyone
  • only work for as long as they're used
  • are not available on the NHS
  • can be expensive

Wigs

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

Synthetic wigs:

  • NHS cost £70.15
  • last 6 to 9 months
  • easier to look after than real-hair wigs
  • can be itchy and hot

Real-hair wigs:

  • NHS cost £271.70
  • last 3 to 4 years
  • harder to look after than synthetic wigs
  • look more natural than synthetic wigs

Find out more about NHS wigs and costs.

Other hair loss treatments

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 cells are 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.

Find out more about cancer and hair loss.

Emotional help

Losing hair can be upsetting. For many people, 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.

Try these online support groups:

Page last reviewed: 04/01/2018
Next review due: 04/01/2021

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