Alopecia is a group of disorders related to hair loss in both men and women. The hair follicles are either damaged physically (through scarring) or through hormonal factors (like autoimmune conditions) and also genetics.
“Androgenetic Alopecia (AGA) is a common reason for hair loss in both men and women” Pharmacist Stuart Gale from Oxford Online Pharmacy explains.’Though still a common problem for many, there are a number of products available that help stops or even reverse the condition in some cases.
This article is going to explain what AGA is and highlight some of the treatments for the condition.
Who Can Get AGA?
There is a common misconception that only men can get AGA. However, AGA can affect both men and women. It is more likely to affect individuals over the age of 65, with 50% of women affected by the condition at this point in their lives. But, men and women of any age can experience AGA. 25% of women will be affected by the condition at some point in their lifetime.
Why Does AGA Happen?
AGA impacts those that are genetically susceptible to the condition. Hair loss happens when a group of hormones, called androgens, alters the hair’s growth cycle and how long the hair will grow. This means that over time, the hair will take longer to regrow, and the hair regrowth might be shorter. Over time, the condition can progressively worsen. Those with AGA may produce too many androgens or have had a previous underlying hormone condition that led to an overproduction of androgen.
What Does AGA Look Like?
AGA affects men and women differently. For men, AGA might start with a receding hairline and increased loss of hair from the crown outwards. Women may find that their hair thins all over their head over time, with a most noticeable decrease at the crown. AGA can result in partial or full hair loss for both genders.
How Do You Treat AGA?
There are medical and reconstructive treatments available for men and women with AGA:
Medical treatments for AGA include finasteride and minoxidil. Finasteride works by fighting the effects of hair-shortening hormones and has a positive impact on hair growth. The solution isn’t permanent, so if the individual wishes to retain their hair they would need to keep taking it otherwise hair loss would continue.
Minoxidil stimulates the regrowth of shortened hair follicles and helps to stimulate blood flow to the scalp. The aim is to promote hair growth and thicker hair. It is possible to use both finasteride and minoxidil together, along with caffeinated shampoo and other supplements.
Minoxidil and finasteride are the generic names for the drugs, which means they are not brand names and can be found in a number of recognised hair-loss treatments. For example, Propecia is a branded drug, and it contains finasteride, while Regaine is the UK brand name for Rogaine and contains minoxidil.
These treatments are not available on the NHS, and they aren’t guaranteed to work. If the individual stops taking them then hair loss would resume, as they are not a permanent solution.
There are a number of reconstructive treatments designed to imitate hair growth.
Wigs can be made of synthetic or real hair. There are a number of benefits to using either.
- Synthetic wigs are more durable than human hair, and are often much cheaper than real hair wigs. They also come pre-styled and require less upkeep than real hair wigs. However, this means that they are often harder to restyle, and cannot be coloured. They may also be itchier on the scalp and last for a shorter amount of time than real hair wigs, often for a maximum of nine months.
- Real hair wigs are more expensive on average than synthetic wigs but can last for years. They can usually be styled and coloured, so are much closer to real hair than synthetic alternatives. This, however, means that they require more upkeep and need washing just like regular hair. They can also be impacted by weather and heated styling tools.
Hair Loss Mesh Integration
Hair loss mesh integration is the process by which a mesh is placed between your existing hair and your head. The mesh is ultra-fine and contains artificial hair matched to your existing hair colour. Your parting is also mimicked so it looks as natural as possible. Your remaining hair can grow through the mesh. This is considered semi-permanent as it will need upkeep and will not stop ongoing hair loss.
Hair transplantation is not a permanent solution for androgenetic alopecia as hair loss can resume at any time. For women with overall hair thinning, hair transplantation may not be the best solution for them.
There are two types of hair transplant:
- FUE Hair Transplantation is when individual hair follicles are taken from the donor area and transplanted onto the scalp follicle by follicle. This can either be done manually or by a robotic device that the physician uses.
- FUT Hair Transplantation is when a strip of the scalp is extracted, containing hair follicles, which is then transplanted onto the affected area. The recovery time of this procedure is longer than the FUE procedure.
For androgenetic alopecia, this may not be the best course of treatment, as hair loss will resume with the grafted hair. You can only transplant hair from your own body.
Hair loss can impact men and women at any stage of their lifetime. AGA is a genetic condition caused when your hormones impact the length of your hair follicles and the hair regrowth cycle. The condition tends to affect men and women differently. Men often experience a receding hairline, while women lose hair from the crown and experience hair thinning.
Fortunately, there are a number of treatments available for treating AGA. Medicine may reverse or stimulate hair regrowth for shortened follicles. There are also reconstructive treatments like wigs or use of a mesh to mimic your real hair. Hair transplantations are possible but will not resolve the condition.
We hope that this article has helped you develop a greater understanding of AGA and possible treatments.