Q: Can you recommend something to treat hair loss in women?
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A: I always do a blood test to check for thyroid problems and iron deficiency – both easily treatable causes. I also look for medication that may be aggravating loss – for example, some types of ‘blood thinners’ and antidepressants – but while listed as a possible side effect of many drugs it is unusual in practice. However, androgenic alopecia (the female equivalent of male pattern baldness and often inherited) is the most common cause in the over-50s.
In women it tends to cause generalised thinning on top and the hairline is often preserved.
I am afraid there is no cure, although medication can help. The only licensed treatment for women is minoxidil (Regaine lotion) and, used regularly, this will slow loss and/or encourage some regrowth in most women.
Unlicensed treatments (typically used by private dermatologists/hair clinics) include cyproterone acetate, spironolactone and cimetidine – all of which are thought to work by interfering with hormone receptors in the scalp. Some women find hormone replacement therapy works, but in others it can make matters worse. Hair loss in itself is not an indication for prescribing HRT.
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