August is National Hair Loss Awareness Month

Hair loss and hair thinning is a common problem, not just in men but in women too. Since so many people experience it, August has been declared National Hair Loss Awareness Month.

There are several different types of hair loss/thinning, including:

  • Androgenetic alopecia (male-pattern baldness in men and female-pattern baldness in women, the most common cause of hair loss in men)
  • Alopecia areata (round patches of hair loss that, in many cases, grows back)
  • Anagen effluvium (hair loss seen mainly in those having chemotherapy treatment)
  • Telogen effluvium (general shedding from all over the head, the most common cause of hair loss in women)

What causes it?

Male-pattern baldness is caused by changes in hormones that make your hair stop growing. These changes affect the hair follicles, making them smaller and the hair they produce thinner. Then in time the follicles become so small that they only produce a fine hair that grows below the surface of the skin.

Experts don’t really know why some men have hair follicles that are sensitive to these hormonal changes. However what they do think is that male-pattern baldness is a genetic condition.

Hair loss isn’t quite as common in women than in men, but there are many factors that may be linked with it, including:

  • Anaemia (iron deficiency)
  • Thyroid disease
  • Weight loss
  • Stress
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Diabetes
  • Lupus

And like men, women with female pattern baldness may be affected by changes in hormone levels that affect the hair follicles on the scalp.

Self-help measures

Whether you’re male or female, there are a few things you can do if you’re affected by hair loss or hair thinning.

A diet with a high levels of nutrients can help support your hair and scalp, so eat plenty of fruit and vegetables (at least five portions a day) and have some lean protein with every meal. If you’re concerned that your diet isn’t as healthy as it should be – or if you think your hair loss problem may be a result of a nutrient deficiency such as iron – have a chat with your local Careway pharmacist about easy ways to improve it.

Your pharmacist can also recommend an over-the-counter product for male-pattern and female-pattern baldness that contains an ingredient called minoxidil.

Minoxidil foam or lotion is available in two strengths, one for men and one for women. If applied to the scalp every day it can slow down or reverse hair loss in some people, though you may not notice any difference for a month or two.

Meanwhile, if any of the following apply to you, see your GP:

  • You lose your hair suddenly
  • You start developing bald patches
  • Your hair starts coming out in clumps
  • Your head also itches and burns
  • You’re worried about your hair loss

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.