How to Stop Hair Loss

Hair loss affects many men and women at some point during their lifetime. It can be caused by many factors, including genetics, stress, nutrition, and illness. But there is some evidence to suggest that lifestyle can be useful in preventing some types of hair loss.

Can Hair Loss be Stopped?

The most common form of hair loss is called androgenetic alopecia, also known as male or female baldness. This type of hair loss is hereditary, so it is passed on from your parents and is permanent. However, some other types of hair loss are temporary and may be caused by:

  • illness
  • medication/treatment
  • stress
  • weight loss
  • iron deficiency

Because male (and female) pattern baldness is genetic, it cannot be stopped or prevented, but treatments can help delay hair loss. It is crucial to find out what is causing your hair loss because it will determine the treatment or lifestyle changes available to you.

Can hair loss be reversed?

Male pattern baldness is the most common hair loss in men and affects up to half of all men by the age of 50. A family history of male baldness is a cause, and research shows that male pattern baldness is associated with male sex hormones (androgens).

Androgens have many functions throughout the body, including regulating hair growth. In male pattern baldness, the hair growth cycle weakens because of a hypersensitivity to the male sex hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) and hair follicles shrink, causing shorter and weaker hair strands to grow. Eventually, DHT shrinks the hair follicles until no new hair grows, resulting in baldness.

Although this type of hair loss cannot be reversed, treatments are available to delay male pattern baldness or temporarily pause it while these treatments are used. Still, no treatment will stop male pattern baldness completely.

If hair loss is caused by factors such as illness, stress, medication, or nutritional deficiencies, then these are often temporary and addressing the cause itself should reverse hair loss.

Can Changing My Diet Stop Hair Loss?

Yes, changing your diet can stop hair loss if the cause is a nutrient deficiency. Deficiencies in the following nutrients can cause or exacerbate hair loss:

  • iron
  • vitamin D
  • Other dietary changes you can make which may be helpful include:
  • increasing your protein intake if this is low
  • eating foods rich in omega 3


The most common nutrient deficiency in the world, iron deficiency, can cause hair loss. The reason for this is not entirely known, but hair follicle cells are one of the most rapidly dividing cells in the human body, and iron has an important role in catalysing the enzyme needed for DNA production.

Certain people are at a higher risk of iron deficiency, such as:

  • menstruating women
  • individuals with malabsorption disorders
  • vegans and vegetarians

Some research has shown that treating iron deficiency can enhance hair loss treatments. Therefore, increasing your iron intake can prevent iron deficiency and subsequent hair loss. Good dietary sources of iron include:

  • lean red meat
  • liver
  • dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and watercress
  • fortified cereals and bread

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is vital for strong teeth, bones, and hair. It is important in keeping your hair follicles healthy and stimulating hair growth. A small study published in 2020 found that vitamin D and iron levels were significantly lower in people with hair loss.

The best source of vitamin D is sunlight. There are also some dietary sources available, like:

  • oily fish
  • red meat
  • egg yolks
  • mushrooms
  • fortified foods

Increasing protein intake

Protein deficiency is linked to hair loss. That’s because protein is essential for making hair healthy and strong, and a lack of it can cause hair to become dry, brittle, and weak.

You can help to boost your protein intake by eating:

  • poultry (chicken and turkey)
  • fish
  • eggs
  • dairy products

Eating foods high in omega-3

Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of fat that the body needs to stay healthy. It is an essential nutrient because your body does not make it naturally. Omega-3 is found in the cells that line the scalp and help to keep your hair hydrated, stopping it from becoming weak and brittle.

You can help to increase your omega-3 intake by making sure you eat at least 2 portions of oily fish each week, such as:

  • mackerel
  • sardines
  • trout
  • salmon
  • herring

Can Being More Active Stop Hair Loss?

Research has shown that cardiovascular exercise can help to reduce hair loss. A study carried out in 2001 found that an increased number of blood vessels in the scalp can lead to thicker hair growth. So, getting the blood circulating around the body may be key to reducing hair loss, and cardiovascular exercise is great for pumping the blood. Some good cardio activities include:

  • walking
  • jogging
  • dancing
  • swimming
  • aerobics
  • cycling
  • team sports

However, intense exercise like weightlifting, can increase hair loss in men and women because it causes an increase in testosterone and DHT, the male sex hormone linked to male pattern baldness.

Can Supplements Stop Hair Loss?

Hair loss supplements are available to buy over the counter and aim to improve the quality of your hair. Some supplements also claim to treat male pattern baldness. The most common supplements recommended for hair loss are:

Biotin – deficiency in biotin is rare but is associated with symptoms including hair loss. However, there is little scientific evidence to suggest that biotin supplementation can improve hair growth.

Zinc – hair loss is a common side effect of a zinc deficiency and some research shows that supplementation with this nutrient can help to restore normal hair growth. In a study of 15 alopecia areata patients, 66.7% reported positive effects after zinc supplementation therapy.

Vitamin C – there is no evidence to suggest vitamin C will benefit hair loss directly, but it is important for the absorption of iron in the intestine.

Iron – although some research suggests that iron deficiency may be associated with some types of hair loss such as female pattern baldness, there is not enough evidence yet to prove that iron supplementation will improve hair growth caused by iron deficiency.

The best way to ensure that your body is getting enough of these vitamins and minerals is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. It is also important to remember that over supplementation, can also have the opposite effect and contribute to hair loss and can be dangerous.

What Hair Products Can Help Stop Hair Loss?

There are hair products and other activities you can do to help prevent hair loss, such as:

  • avoid using high heat hair styling tools such as hair straighteners, curling irons, and hairdryers
  • avoid chemically bleaching your hair
  • avoid tight hairstyles, like braids, ponytails and cornrows, that can pull on the hair and loosen the bond between your hair and scalp
  • brush your hair with a brush made from natural fibres with soft bristles
  • use mild shampoos and conditioners that are free from harsh chemicals to wash your hair
  • avoid overwashing your hair

What Medications Can Stop Hair Loss?

There are 2 medications available for hair loss, they include:

Finasteride and Propecia

Propecia and finasteride are tablets that can be taken to delay male pattern baldness. They are the same except Propecia is a branded medication and finasteride is the generic version. They both contain the same active ingredient, finasteride.

Both Propecia and finasteride are used to treat male pattern hair loss and work by increasing hair growth at the scalp as well as preventing further loss. It is most beneficial to men who have mild to moderate hair loss but not complete baldness. Propecia works by reducing the levels of DHT in the scalp, to help reverse the hair loss process and stimulate hair growth. Research has shown that the average DHT levels in men taking finasteride decreased by up to 69% after 42 days of treatment.

Propecia and finasteride should only be used by men. These medications do not work for women. Finasteride is not available on prescription from the NHS to treat hair loss and it can take 3 to 6 months for results to show.


Minoxidil is a cream or foam treatment that can be used by both men and women who are experiencing hereditary hair loss. It is also used to treat other causes of hair loss, such as:

  • alopecia areata
  • fragile hair disorders
  • hair loss caused by chemotherapy

Minoxidil foam is massaged into the scalp and works by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles. It has been shown to reduce hair loss, however the hair that grows back is often weaker than the rest on the scalp. Minoxidil foam is available to buy over the counter under the brand name Regaine.

Are There Medical Treatments That Can Stop Hair oss?

There are some medical treatments available that may help to stop hair loss, including:

  • Light therapy where ultraviolet (UV) light is shone onto bald patches in people suffering with alopecia areata. The effectiveness of this is inconclusiveAn alternative called low level laser light therapy is safe and can be effective in stimulating hair growth in men and women, though more studies are needed.
  • Steroid injections – corticosteroids are injected directly into the bald patches of hair and repeated every 4 to 6 weeks. If this treatment is successful, new hair should grow within 4 weeks but it does not prevent new hair loss developing.
  • Steroid creams – corticosteroids can also be applied directly to bald patches caused by alopecia areata in the form of creams, lotions, foams, and ointments. Some examples, such as betamethasone valerate foam, achieved 75% hair regrowth in 61% of patients in one study.
  • Scalp reduction or alopecia reductions surgery – a medical procedure that is used in both men and women to treat hair loss by removing bald scalp tissue and replacing it with hair-bearing scalp.
  • Hair transplant – can be completed using your own hair which is removed from the back of your head and transplanted in areas where there is evident hair thinning or artificial hairs can be implanted instead.


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Iron plays a certain role in patterned hair loss (2013) J Korean Med Sci [accessed 12 July 2022]
Low-level laser (light) therapy for treatment of hair loss (2014) Lasers Surg Med [accessed 12 July 2022] 
Male Androgenetic Alopecia (2016) NIH [accessed 12 July 2022]
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Use of finasteride in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss) (2003) Journal of Investigative Dermatology Symposium Proceedings [accessed 12 July 2022] 
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