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In 2015, Northwestern University in the USA announced it would be conducting a clinical trial to establish PAI-1 levels in people with non-scarring forms of hair loss.

Now, after a lengthy delay, trial registration information for this research states that enrolment began on 27th November 2019.

What is PAI-1?

What is PAI-1?

Plasminogen activator inhibitor-1 (PAI-1) is a protein which plays an important role in preventing blood clotting.

It is produced by the cells lining the blood vessels and can also be secreted by adipose (body fat) tissue.

At elevated levels, PAI-1 has been associated with various illnesses and conditions, from haemorrhaging and certain types of cancer to obesity and thrombosis.

The stated aim and methodology of the clinical trial, is given as follows: “This study will investigate whether subjects who suffer from hair loss have increased levels of PAI-1 compared to age-matched control subjects…

Tissue PAI-1 expression levels will be determined by immunohistochemistry, a three-layer biotin-strepavidin system. Positive PAI-1 expression per total tissue area will be quantified using the color-picker function in imaging software.The PAI-1 expression found in normal scalps will be compared to those found in scalps with hair loss.

Presumably, making a connection between raised PAI-1 levels and hair loss would provide a new avenue for researchers investigating the biology of certain forms of alopecia. This may also then give scientists another angle to explore when developing future hair loss treatments.

Hair Loss research alopecia areata microscope

Trial participant criteria

The 55 participants are all aged between 18 and 60 years of age and have been diagnosed with one of three separate hair loss conditions.

These are Androgenetic Alopecia (better known as Male Pattern Baldness and Female Pattern Hair Loss), temporary shedding from Telogen Effluvium or patchy hair fall caused by the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata.

None of the volunteers have had hair transplant surgery, nor do they have any inflammatory scalp conditions, such as psoriasis, or scarring hair loss (cicatricial alopecia).

Those recruited have never used topical hair loss solutions, such as high strength minoxidil, to help encourage hair regrowth. Minoxidil is the only topical, unisex hair loss medication that is MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved for the treatment of genetic hair loss; although not licensed for use on other hair loss conditions, its benefits in certain cases are widely acknowledged.

Each of these participants will undergo a scalp biopsy and be matched with a healthy volunteer of the same age, who has no history of hairloss, to act as a control.

We look forward to seeing the findings of this novel exploration, which are estimated to be completed in June 2020, and will update this Belgravia hair loss blog when updates become available.


The Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

Related Stories


At 72 years of age, superstar Elton John is one third of the way through his farewell world tour, and celebrating the launch of his autobiography, Me.

As the multi-award winning singer and composer takes a brief look back over his incredible career, he has decided to talk candidly about his life for the first time since his infamous 1997 documentary, Tantrums and Tiaras.

In an exclusive BBC interview with Graham Norton, the Your Song hitmaker discussed the media attention his hair loss has garnered over the years. This included why he hates being bald and is now happy with his look after finding wigs that suit him.

Failed hair transplants

Elton John Hair Loss going bald

Elton John’s Male Pattern Baldness was never a secret; his noticeably thinning hair got gradually worse over the years, as is the natural progression of this permanent, hereditary hair loss condition.

This can be charted via his record sleeves and music videos. It also led to him spending large parts of the 1980s covering up his thinning on top with a cap, hat or headpiece, both on and off-stage.

His hairloss became such an essential part of the Elton John – formerly Reg Dwight – story that it was covered in his award-winning 2019 biopic, Rocketman.

“In the film my mother says I’ll be bald by 20 – well I wasn’t quite bald by 20 but more or less by 30 it was going, and I don’t like being bald. I look like Shrek and I don’t like it,” Sir Elton told Graham Norton.

This echoed his earlier 2016 radio interview with Chris Evans where he also advised he had initially taken steps towards preventing baldness as he didn’t like the shape of his head.

“I had hair transplants which didn’t work – that was the early ‘Louis Pasteur’ version of a hair transplant..,” joked the Circle of Life singer.

“There was a tabloid story that it had been put it in upside down,” recalled Norton of Elton John’s unnatural-looking ‘hair plugs‘ which were the result of one of the earliest forms of hair restoration surgery.

“So that didn’t work either – and I’m sure the drugs didn’t help either,” admits the reformed cocaine addict and alcoholic, who was well-known for his love of excess. Famously, the father-of-two ran up a £293,000 bill for flowers over 20 months prior to his bankruptcy hearings in November 2000.

He is absolutely right in thinking his recreational drug use was unhelpful to healthy hair growth after hair transplant surgery or just in general. The combination of alcoholism, marijuana smoking and cocaine use will likely have had various negative effects on his hair, as well as his overall health.

Belgravia superintendent trichologist and senior hair loss specialist, Rali Bozhinova explains, “In cases of alcoholism, alcoholics may absorb less nutrients from their diet, for instance absorbing less B vitamins – including biotin – and zinc, both of which play a key role in supporting the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth.

“Elton John’s general lifestyle at the time, based on stories he has told, would have involved a lot of additional stress being placed on his body – from late nights, drug and alcohol abuse, to bulimia, smoking and the emotional stress of handling fame, the media, divorce and bankruptcy,” she notes.

Elton John wearing wig hair loss bald
Elton John is “very happy” with his look now and feels good wearing a wig

“Stress is well-known to contribute to hair loss and poor hair quality, so it is perhaps unsurprising that his hair transplants did not go well. He would have also had to be dedicated to using a pharmaceutical male hair loss treatment course on an on-going daily basis as aftercare, to ensure the DHT-prone hairs surrounding the new grafts did not shed too. But the lifestyle he has described does not sound conducive to consistent use of medication.”

“Furthermore, these stressors can trigger temporary hair loss from all over the scalp – a condition known as Telogen Effluvium – which can further exacerbate Male Pattern Hair Loss”.

“I don’t like being bald”

“I decided to wear a wig and the first wigs I had were so bad, I remember the review when I came out for the Freddie Mercury concert at Wembley said I had a dead squirrel on my head,” the ex-Watford FC chairman told the BBC.

Looking back at it it did look like a dead squirrel – more like a dead mole – and it’s gotten better over the years. I was teased mercilessly in the press.

I’m very happy with it now. It looks good, I’m happy with it on. Yes, I am bald but I don’t like being bald and so I wear a toupee.”

Recounting a visit to Atlanta, Elton John explained how he ‘took his hair off’ and left it by the bed before going to sleep. Upon being awoken by a strange noise, thinking he was going to be burgled, he ran into the corridor only to remember “I haven’t got my hair on!”.

After running back and grabbing his toupee, he quickly put it on and went back to find two maintenance men fixing a leak. “I went to the bathroom and looked at myself… I’d put it on back to front. I looked like Frankie Howerd on a really really bad day. So God knows what they must have thought because I was just wearing underpants and a back-to-front wig…”

“It’s the first thing you grab in a fire,” teased Norton.

hairloss male pattern baldness hair loss treatments hair regrowth products

For those who don’t like the idea of surgical hair restoration or wearing a wig, but are equally unhappy at the thought of going bald, a timely visit to a hair loss clinic for a consultation is recommended.

Once the hair follicles have atrophied to the point that they are incapable of producing even thin hair and the skin has taken on a smooth appearance, this means baldness has set in and hair regrowth solutions will be largely futile.

However, as it generally takes a number of years to get to the point of baldness, the earlier professional advice can be sought, the better – not to mention, potentially the more cost effective!

Finding out which hair loss treatments and appropriate hair growth supporting products are best-suited to your specific condition, level and pattern of shedding, plus medical profile, early on, can give you plenty of time to do your own research into which hair loss solutions you feel most comfortable with, saving a lot of trial and error.


Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinic Hair Loss Specialist Free ConsultationThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

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As winter rolls around many people start eyeing up nutritional supplements to boost their immune system in the hope of preventing colds.

Many of these products contain zinc, an essential trace element that plays a vital role in various biological functions but which cannot be generated by the body.

The reason it appears in many ‘immune support’ nutritional products is because zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system. These are often marketed as ‘helping to fight infection’; this is because it has also been shown, in systematic reviews of clinical studies, that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold.

Zinc also has a number of other health benefits, as, not only does it contribute to the maintenance of normal vision and normal cognitive function, but it can support the maintenance of normal skin, hair and nail health.

The role of zinc in hair growth and hair loss

Belgravia Centre hair supplement Hair Vitalics for Men for Women food supplements general nutrition vitamin tablet

When Belgravia hair experts developed the formulation for Hair Vitalics food supplements, both for Men and for Women, zinc was one of the first ingredients to be included. There are three key reasons for this…

Firstly, zinc is known to help support the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth, making it something of a no-brainer to include in a highly-targeted hair supplement.

Secondly, zinc also has a role in the process of cell division and contributes to the protection of cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress has been linked to premature hair loss in at least two clinical studies.

Thirdly, zinc deficiency can contribute to hair loss so it is important for people to ensure they consume a healthy amount every day. Some people may not be able to absorb zinc properly and, in these cases, a GP should be consulted as the underlying reason will need to be established so that appropriate treatment can be decided upon.

Recently, it has also been shown in clinical trials that men with Male Pattern Baldness may benefit from zinc and biotin.Whilst women with Female Pattern Hair Loss were shown to have lower levels of zinc and iron. Both biotin – another well-known hair vitamin – and iron are also included in both Hair Vitalics formulations.

Various clinical trials over the years have also linked the autoimmune disorder Alopecia Areata to low zinc levels.

Daily recommendations for zinc

The NHS advises that the recommended daily intake of zinc is 5.5–9.5mg a day for men, and 4–7mg a day for women.*

The UK Food Standards Agency and Department of Health recommends not consuming more than 25mg of zinc per day, as “too much may cause anaemia and weakening of the bones”. *

Therefore, when taking zinc supplements, or other nutritional support products containing zinc, such as multivitamins or hair supplements, it is important to ensure your intake, including zinc obtained through your diet, meets this criteria.

Causes of zinc deficiency

Zinc must be supplied through the diet. It can easily be obtained from a number of dietary sources, including meat, seafood, legumes (chick peas, lentils and even baked beans), seeds and nuts.

oysters The belgravia centre
Oysters are considered the most naturally zinc-rich foodstuff

Oysters are considered the most zinc-rich food stuff for meat-eaters and pescatarians, whilst sun-dried tomatoes and pumpkin seeds are among the best natural vegetarian and vegan sources of zinc.

In addition to those not getting enough zinc through their diets because of an unbalanced diet, deficiency can also occur for various other reasons.

Zinc deficiency is often seen in people “consuming large amounts of cereal grain (which contains a phytate considered to be chelating agent of zinc), in those with poor meat consumption or TPN [Total Parenteral Nutrition], and in infants on milk formula. Other causes of zinc deficiency include anorexia nervosa (secondary to inadequate intake, increased zinc excretion, and malabsorption due to laxative abuse), inflammatory bowel disease, jejunal bypass surgery, and cystic fibrosis. Alcoholism, malignancy, burns, infection, and pregnancy may all cause increased metabolism and excretion of zinc,” according to research published in the Dermatology & Therapy journal in March 2019 (source: doi: 10.1007/s13555-018-0278-6).

Those with eczema or seborrheic dermatitis may find their conditions worsen as a result of zinc deficiency. It can also make wound-healing slower.

If you are concerned about a potential zinc deficiency, it is best to contact your GP as they should be able to refer you for the appropriate blood tests, urine tests and/or hair strand analysis.

Thinning hair and excessive hair fall which presents as a result of zinc deficiency is known as Telogen Effluvium. It is a temporary form of hairloss which tends to become obvious around three months after being triggered.

It causes up to 30-40 per cent of all scalp hair to shed, so may be alarming, but normal hair regrowth should resume with six months, though treatment to accelerate this process may be helpful.

For those worried about sudden or unusual levels of shedding, consulting a professional hair loss specialist may be both informative and a huge relief. They will be able to identify the cause of the thinning and explain both why it is happening and what can be done to encourage hair growth, as well as providing personalised recommendations for hair loss treatments and hair growth supporting products, where appropriate.

* Information correct at time of writing: November 2019 (Source: NHS.uk)

The Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

Related Stories


Paediatric Alopecia Areata, where the autoimmune disorder which causes sudden-onset patchy hair loss presents in children under 18 years of age, currently has no widely recommended or official treatment options.

Findings from new Serbian research involving 73 patients aged between 1 and 73 years old was published in the Dermatologic Therapy medical journal in October 2019.

Each participant had been professionally diagnosed with severe Alopecia Areata covering more than 30 per cent of their scalp, and two different therapies were trialled over the course of 6 to 12 months, to help shed light into which forms of treatment may benefit young people with this type of shedding.

Dexamethasone pulse therapy

Childrens hair loss treatment trial

This prospective study, funded by the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Serbia, comprised 73 patients (aged 1–18 years) with severe Alopecia Areata where it affected more than 30 per cent of the scalp’s surface.

Of this group, 37 received 1‐day intravenous dexamethasone pulses (1‐DP), whilst 36 were administered 3‐day pulses (3‐DP) each monthly for between 6 and 12 months. All patients took part for 6 months, whilst 65 of the 73 were studied until the 12 month mark.

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid, usually taken orally, for the treatment of inflammatory conditions, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, lupus, psoriasis and certain breathing disorders.

In addition to their allocated pulse therapy, all the participants in each group also applied topical clobetasol propionate under an occlusive plastic wrap. This is another steroid, generally used as a cream, applied topically to reduce inflammation and irritation in cases of skin conditions, including psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, lichen planus and discoid lupus erythematosus.

Trial findings

The trial researchers considered those who achieved hair regrowth results of 50 per cent or above to be ‘good responders’ (GR).

At the six month stage, the group receiving 3‐DP was found to have more success than the 1-DP group which saw the most frequent relapses.

Those 3-DP patients whose Alopecia Areata had been present for six months or less, saw the best outcomes. The 3-DP group also came out on top at the long‐term, 12 month follow‐up, as 67 per cent had “stable results”.

what is an autoimmune disorder information alopecia areata

No patients reported any severe short‐term nor any long-term side effects from the treatment.

Interestingly, given it is well-established that people who have one autoimmune disorder are more likely to develop others, the findings state that the children who did not also have Hashimoto thyroiditis (HT) – an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks the thyroid – were 9.8 times more likely to be a ‘good responder’ to the treatment than those with the condition.

It was therefore concluded that “Short disease duration and no HT were good prognostic factors. 3‐DP protocol is well‐tolerated, with beneficial effects and long‐lasting results in severe paediatric AA”.

Whilst these small-scale results show promise, there is still a long road of testing ahead before this type of Alopecia Areata treatment is able to be submitted for the appropriate MHRA and FDA designations it requires to be made widely available.

For now, those aged 16 and over with scalp-only Alopecia Areata can visit a hair loss clinic for a professional consultation and suitable treatment recommendations. These often involve the topical solution high strength minoxidil, which is currently MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved for the treatment of genetic hairloss.

Under 16s with any form of Alopecia Areata, or people of any age with forms which also affect other areas of the body, such as Alopecia Totalis or Alopecia Universalis, should seek advice from their GP who can refer them to a dermatologist, if necessary, to discuss hospital-based treatments such as immunotherapy.

Emotional and practical support in the form of psychodermatology and free real-hair wigs for children and young adults affected by medical hair loss, including the various forms of autoimmune alopecia, are also options worth considering.


Circ - Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinics LondonThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

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As anyone with access to the internet will know, there is a lot of misinformation about what will, and what won’t treat hair loss.

Myriad myths and ‘old wives’ tales’ continue to circulate, long after they’ve been debunked; perennial favourites being that applying onions to your head will regrow hair (it won’t), having a scalp massage with ginger will cure Male Pattern Baldness (nope) or that washing your hair too frequently is the reason for thinning hair (highly unlikely).

Something of a newcomer to this list of dubious hairloss solutions is whisky. And, whilst it may be a somewhat more appealing, and certainly less pungent, option for some people, it is still ineffective at preventing baldness.

Whisky whiskey hair loss hair growth alcohol

That said, as with most of these rumours, there is a small grain of truth behind the myth that whisky can help hair growth…

High alcohol content

When stories about how to use whisky – or ‘whiskey’ if it’s an Irish malt, rather than a Scottish one – to regrow hair are shared, they tend to involve applying the fire water directly to the scalp, rather than drinking it.

Furthermore, it also tends to be used sparingly as a small part of a larger hair growth cocktail – after all, who wants to waste good whisky?

One example, published in Scottish Field magazine, suggested concocting a hair regrowth mask using some warm olive oil, an egg yolk, and a teaspoon of whisky. It advises, “…make sure you apply it correctly; first of all, spread the mixture evenly across your head. Then, wrap your head in plastic and put something over it to apply pressure; like a scarf or a towel.”

It claims doing this once a day – or “as much as you want” – will “facilitate stronger hair” and “stimulate new hair growth”.

“Sadly, this is untrue,” notes Belgravia superintendent pharmacist prescriber and senior hair loss specialist, Christina Chikaher, who adds “…though it is likely to be a great conditioning and moisturising mixture due to the egg yolk and olive oil. These contain many beneficial vitamins, antioxidants and softening oils from biotin to squalene.

This combination – regardless of whether the boozy element is added or not – could be helpful in terms of maintaining a healthy scalp, and a healthy scalp should technically lead to healthy hair.

That said, for men and women with androgenetic alopecia – Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss – who are using appropriate hair loss treatment in the form of high strength minoxidil, the alcohol content of the topically-applied whisky may help improve the medication’s absorption.

Whisky is often up to 50 per cent proof, and alcohol can act as a rubefacient, which means it can aid the solubility of minoxidil. When applied to the scalp it can cause the capillaries to dilate and blood circulation to increase, which could technically cause greater efficacy of this topical hair loss solution.

How effective this is, and how much whiskey would need to be used to see any meaningful hair regrowth benefits remains unproven, so this is something people would choose to do at their own risk.”

Whiskey and hair loss treatment

Whilst applying any kind of alcohol to your scalp is not recommended by Belgravia hair loss specialists, not least due to the drying effects it can have on the skin, the small amount suggested in the aforementioned recipe should not do too much damage.

Blog size Belgravia Centre Male and Female Women's Men's Hair Loss Treatment Products Hair Vitalics LaserBand Hairloss clinic
Belgravia offers a combination of hair loss treatments and products to support the maintenance of healthy and vibrant hair

It is important to note, however, that neat alcohol – whether whiskey or any other form – should not be applied to the scalp before or after applying minoxidil. It should certainly not be mixed with this medication either.

Doing so could dilute the drug, making it less efficient at its job of helping to accelerate hair growth. The same applies to hair masks containing alcohol.

Should you wish to try out this type of DIY home hair mask, firstly, if you are a Belgravia Centre patient, please speak to your dedicated treatment advisor who can provide, or arrange, personalised advice on whether this is likely to be suitable for you or not.

If you are not a Belgravia client, we recommend at the very least taking the precaution of drying your hair properly after washing the mask out, then applying your hair loss treatment to a clean, dry scalp. This should avoid dilution issues.

Whilst whisky cannot treat a hair loss condition or regrow hair, this is likely to be the reason it, along with other spirits such as tequila, have been praised for having hair regrowth properties.

There are a number of arguably more reliable hair growth supporting products available, so for those worried about thinning hair or a drop in hair density, as well as those simply wanting to maintain healthy hair, it may be wise to take professional advice on which of these may work for you, before hitting the bottle.


Circ - Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinics LondonThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

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From Prince Philip to Princes Harry and William, the men of the British Royal Family are clearly affected by Male Pattern Baldness. Yet Prince Andrew – the Queen’s second-eldest son – seems unaffected by this common form of hereditary hair loss, and now we may know why…

According to The Sun, a former Royal aide to the scandal-mired Prince, has told Daily Mail reporters that hair loss treatment during the 1990s left Prince Andrew with an inability to sweat.

Prince Andrew

The Duke of York had previously attributed his anhidrosis – the medical condition which causes the lack of sweat – to an excess of adrenaline experienced after being shot at in the Falklands war. Andrew was a Royal Navy helicopter pilot during the conflict.

During a BBC Newsnight interview regarding his role in the Jeffrey Epstein controversy, the 59 year old Royal said, “I didn’t sweat at the time because I had suffered what I would describe as an overdose of adrenaline in the Falklands War, when I was shot at… it was almost impossible for me to sweat.”

Could hair loss treatment be responsible for inability to sweat?

The anonymous aide backed the Duke’s story about having anhidrosis, saying, “We often went to Annabel’s nightclub and even after ferocious dancing, he hardly ever perspired.” But could this really be the result of hair loss treatment for his previously thinning hair?

There are only two clinically-proven male pattern hairloss treatments, both of which would have been available to the Prince in the 1990s. These are high strength minoxidil and finasteride 1mg.

Minoxidil is a dose-dependent topical solution which is applied directly to the areas of the scalp affected by genetic thinning, namely along the top of the scalp, from hairline and temples to crown. It helps to promote accelerated hair growth and has been licensed in the UK for the treatment of genetic hairloss in both men and women since 1988.

Finasteride, which is also sometimes referred to by its first ever brand name – back when the drug was licensed in the UK in September 1999 – Propecia, is a daily tablet taken by medically-suitable men aged 18 and over. It inhibits dihydrotestosterone – perhaps better known by its abbreviation, DHT – which is the hormone responsible for causing thinning hair and/or a receding hairline in cases of Male Pattern Hair Loss.

These two medications can be used separately or, often, together as part of a long-term plan for preventing baldness.

Neither of these MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved hair loss solutions list anhidrosis as a possible side effect. Sweating, or an inability to sweat do not appear at all on either.

Syringe injection medical

Belgravia superintendent trichologist and senior hair loss specialist, Rali Bozhinova explains, “Anhidrosis can be idiopathic, meaning it can arise spontaneously with no known cause. Therefore, it could have been triggered by the war trauma he initially spoke about, but we have no way of knowing for certain what caused it.”

Off label treatment?

Although it seems highly unlikely that the authorised hair loss treatments for Male Pattern Baldness could have led to anhidrosis, Prince Andrew may have had access to what is known as ‘off label treatment’.

This is where a drug, often clinically-proven and properly licensed or approved for a different medical purpose, is used to treat something other than this. A potentially relevant example here is botox.

Botox, where the toxin botulinum is injected into the skin, is known to treat a number of health issues, from crossed eyes to hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating). It has been FDA-approved for various conditions since 1989, with its use for new conditions receiving further approvals as its efficacy and safety for each was discovered, for instance, botox received FDA approval for abnormal contractions of the eyelid (blepharospasm) in 1989, whilst approval for the smoothing of crow’s feet – lateral canthal lines around the eyes – gained approval in 2013.

One ‘off label’ use of botox is injecting it into the scalp to help improve hair growth. Various small-scale studies have looked into its use for this purpose and found it to be fairly effective, though it is not yet sufficiently proven so remains unapproved for this purpose.

As botox is known to prevent sweating, at least locally, there is a chance botox could be the ‘hair loss treatment’ Prince Andrew’s former aide is referring to. It is known to cause anhidrosis, but there are also a number of other health conditions which can bring on this condition.

Inherited conditions which affect the metabolic system, connective tissue diseases, skin damage or pore-clogging diseases including psoriasis, plus neuropathy problems including diabetes and alcoholism, as well as certain drugs, such as morphine and psychosis medications are all known causes of anhidrosis.


Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinic Hair Loss Specialist Free ConsultationThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

Related Stories


There are currently only two clinically-proven, MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved hair loss medications authorised to treat the common, hereditary condition, Male Pattern Baldness.

Male Pattern Hair Loss Treatment and Hair Growth Supporting Products The Belgravia Centre Hairloss Clinic

One is the vasodilator high strength minoxidil, which is used to encourage accelerated hair growth, whilst the other is an oral tablet, finasteride 1mg, which can be taken by medically-suitable men aged 18 and over, to inhibit the formation of dihydrotestosterone – DHT.

This is the hormone which can start attacking the hair follicles in genetically-predisposed men any time following puberty, causing gradually thinning hair along the top of the scalp – the ‘vertex’ – from crown to temples – and a receding hairline. This can lead to eventual baldness in these affected areas if left unchecked.

Researchers have been trying to develop a topical form of finasteride 1mg, for a number of years, the reasoning being applying the drug directly to the scalp may have a reduced potential side effect profile, and it may also be able to be used by some women.

So far, this has tended to revolve around exploring the safety, tolerability and efficacy of experimental finasteride spray or gel solutions.

However, new research coming out of Seoul, in the Republic of Korea, has shown that transdermal delivery of finasteride powder using microneedles and a diffusion enhancer may also be a worthwhile candidate.

Sustained drug release over three day period

The team from the Department of Biotechnology at Yonsei University and Juvic Inc. developed a topical formulation of powder finasteride (FNS) and a novel delivery system involving transdermal microneedles coated with the powder, to create micro-channels in the skin for the drugs to pass through.

Whilst microneedling is popular among some topical hair loss treatment users, we are only aware of small-scale trials into its efficacy and safety having been carried out to date. The Korean research authors advise a “low delivery efficiency and concerns over patient safety of SMNs [solid microneedles] remain major limitations of the treatment.”

Insulin Patch Could Help Diabetics to Prevent Hair Loss
An example of a transdermal microneedle patch which UNC School of Medicine is trying to develop to deliver insulin

It was for this reason the team invented a novel, patchless powder-finasteride delivery system which could be self-administered straight into the skin without the previous safety issues associated with solid microneedles – the type typically found on home-use microneedling devices such as dermarollers.

Transdermal microneedle patches have been used to deliver medication in a number of illnesses and health conditions already, and it is an area of medicine which is currently being explored for a range of potential uses, including insulin patches to help manage diabetes.

The South Korean team advised in their report, published in the Journal of Controlled Release, “we introduced the concept of a diffusion enhancer for this system, which facilitated the dissolution and release of the implanted FNS powder to achieve its successful intradermal delivery.

Using implanted FNS powder as a reservoir inside the skin, this novel system permitted sustained release of the implanted FNS powder for 3 days with only one application of FNS-PCMs [finasteride-powder-coated microneedles].

In addition, compared with the topical FNS-gel, the developed system showed a higher efficacy in promoting hair growth and increased the amount and density of hair while addressing the safety concerns.”

Belgravia superintendent pharmacist and senior hair loss specialist, Christina Chikaher, said of the news, “As long as the amount of powder released into the skin can be properly controlled, this could be a possible treatment for the future. The article says that this can be self-administered, though I couldn’t find information on how they ensured accurate drug delivery, but it looks promising. I am always of the belief that a topical preparation of finasteride, well-delivered, could have beneficial results with a potentially reduced potential side effect profile.” Continues below…

Journal of Controlled Release - November 2019 - Transdermal Powder Finasteride Microneedle Delivery Trial for Male Pattern Baldness - Diagrams
Diagrams from the Journal of Controlled Release Transdermal Powder Finasteride Microneedle Delivery Trial. Source: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jconrel.2019.11.002

Current options for Male Pattern Hair Loss treatment

Whilst the potential risk of serious side effects from finasteride 1mg is currently considered ‘uncommon’, affecting an estimated one in every 100 users, some men looking at preventing baldness do opt for alternative treatments.

This approach generally revolves around the use of a customised male hair loss treatment course featuring formulations of the aforementioned, dose-dependent topical solution, high strength minoxidil, used once or twice per day, as advised by the recommending hair loss specialist.

This topical treatment can be supplemented with a number of hair growth supporting products, including the FDA-cleared LaserBand. This popular, wearable device features patented teeth which comb through the hair, parting it as it’s worn, so the medical-grade low level laser therapy (LLLT) it dispenses gets straight to the scalp, rather than just the hair. This allows it to stimulate the follicles, encouraging strong, healthy hair.

HairMax, the device’s manufacturers, claim the LaserBand products – which are used 3 times per week for either 90 seconds (82 model) or 3 minutes (41 model) – have a 93 per cent success rate.

Belgravia offers its clients additional elements such as clinical therapy sessions at its London hair loss clinics, whereby a personalised session featuring a relaxing mix of therapies such as scalp massage, red light therapy, LLLT and scalp steaming, to help boost hair health.

Hair Vitalics for Men, an exclusive one-a-day food supplement developed by Belgravia hair experts, also fits well with a pharmaceutical treatment plan, though it can also be taken to simply help maintain normal healthy hair growth. It contains a highly-targeted blend of vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanicals, including biotin, zinc, selenium and saw palmetto.

If you are worried about losing your hair, either after noticing signs of hairloss or feeling a drop in your usual hair density, and would like to explore ways to keep your hair, although many of the treatments in development may sound fantastic, they could still be a long way off yet. Therefore, given Male Pattern Baldness is a permanent and progressive condition, it’s wise to seek advice on what options may be best for you, as early on in the process as possible.


Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinic Hair Loss Specialist Free ConsultationThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

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An oral medication used to treat prostate cancer may treat Female Pattern Hair Loss, a new study has found.

Researchers from the dermatology and trichology departments at Ramon y Cajal University Hospital in Madrid, Spain, treated 17 women diagnosed with genetic hair loss, using bicalutamide tablets.

According to the details published in the Dermatologic Therapy journal, these were administered either once daily or once every other day for the duration of this six month pilot study.

The team reported that more than half the participants saw “significant” hair growth, with 53 per cent reporting a “great improvement” in hair density.

bicalutamide casodex hair loss treatment trial women's hairloss thinning hair regrowth

Testosterone-blocking properties

The hair regrowth effects these women experienced were thought to be associated with the medication’s testosterone-blocking properties.

Bicalutamide is an anti-androgen drug, used to stop testosterone reaching cancer cells in the hope of shrinking them, or at least slowing down their growth. It is also known by various brand names, including Casodex which is manufactured by AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals.

Androgens are male hormones, present in both men and women, which play a key role in the development of male sexual characteristics and reproductive health during puberty. The key androgen is testosterone.

After that time, those with an inherited predisposition to Male Pattern Baldness or Female Pattern Hair Loss can develop a sensitivity to a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which is a formed from testosterone.

Where there is an active case of hereditary hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia, the follicles located along the top of the scalp, from the crown to the hairline and temples, will become sensitive to the DHT which binds to them.

The DHT gradually destroys the affected follicles, presenting outwardly as increasingly thinning hair on top, a thinning crown and/or a receding hairline in men, though in women it tends to result in diffuse thinning over this entire susceptible area, rather than in defined areas as can be seen in men.

Whereas men tend to eventually go bald here, if no intervention is sought whilst the follicles are still capable of producing hair, women may experience severely thinning hair where the scalp becomes highly visible, but they rarely develop true baldness. This is why Belgravia hair experts refer to Female Pattern Hair Loss as such, not as ‘Female Pattern Baldness‘.

By blocking the formation of testosterone in women, the problematic DHT element is removed from the hairloss equation; in short, if there is no DHT, in theory, there should be no – or very little – hair fall or thinning.

“Bicalutamide has anti-androgen effects so, since androgenic alopecia – genetic hair loss – is androgen related, it makes sense that some benefit may be seen with anti-androgen drugs. This is why some women also use spironolactone as an ‘off-label’ hair loss treatment,” says Belgravia superintendent trichologist, Rali Bozhinova.

“However,” she adds, “with such medications there are more serious potential side effects compared to the only currently officially authorised treatment, topical minoxidil. There are also certain precautions women of childbearing age should be aware of.

Such medications should only be used under a doctor’s close supervision. Additionally, Female Pattern Hair Loss is a permanent condition which requires ongoing treatment, so the efficacy and safety of long-term bicalutamide use in women requires more research.”

Female Hair Loss treatment options

Currently there are two key products which may benefit women diagnosed with Female Pattern Hair Loss.

The first is topical formulations of high strength minoxidil, an MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved dose-dependent drug which is applied directly to thinning areas of the scalp. This vasodilating hairloss solution helps to encourage accelerated hair growth.

Belgravia Centre Female Booster Products Hair Vitalics Women Hair Growth Supporting Products LaserBand Minoxidil Hairloss Treatment

The second – which is non-medicinal and falls into the category of a supplementary hair growth supporting product which Belgravia hair specialists often recommend forms part of a comprehensive hair loss treatment course alongside appropriate minoxidil formulations – is a wearable low-level laser therapy (LLLT) device from HairMax, called the LaserBand.

This FDA-cleared headband-style gadget features an ergonomic designed which includes patented comb-like teeth which part the hair to allow medical-grade laser therapy to get straight to the scalp. There it stimulates adenosine triphosphate production which ultimately should boost hair growth if worn, as recommended, three times a week for either 90 seconds or 3 minutes each session, depending on the model.

Further adjuvant products and services, including clinical therapy sessions and highly-targeted food supplements designed to support the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth, such as Belgravia’s exclusively formulated Hair Vitalics for Women, can also augment this non-surgical approach.

With so many hair loss products available – many of which tend to be cosmetic, rather than actual treatments – speaking to a professional to get a confirmed diagnosis of your condition and take advice as to their recommendations, can save time and money, as well as often providing a sense of relief, whether the consultation happens in person at a dedicated hair loss clinic, or online.


Circ - Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinics LondonThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

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Pea Sprout Extract pea shoots nutrition hair growth hair loss product

New research has found that pea sprout extract, used topically or taken orally as a food supplement may have hair growth benefits which help to reduce hair loss.

Scientists studying AnaGain – a topical ingredient made from pea sprout extract that was developed by Swiss biochemistry group, Mibelle AG to promote hair growth – in its usual formulation, decided to investigate its efficacy when taken in an oral form.

The small-scale clinical trial found the 2 per cent topical pea sprout extract preparation (AnaGain) as well as the 100mg-per-day dose of oral pea sprout extract (AnaGain Nu) both resulted in less hairloss and solid hair growth.

It did not, however, disclose which specific hair loss conditions these products were intended to treat, although natural hair thinning associated with old age was mentioned in relation to the topical form.

Enhances ‘hair genes’ expression

A short communication article regarding the clinical trial into AnaGain and AnaGain Nu pea sprout extract products was authored by three researchers from Mibelle Group Biochemistry and published on 3rd November 2019 in the Phytotherapy Research journal.

It explains how they discovered the “expression of defined genes relevant for hair, namely fibroblast growth factor -7 (FGF7) and noggin” was enhanced by 56 and 85 per cent respectively in the 10 trial participants, aged between 46 and 60 years, who applied a 2 per cent pea sprout extract solution to their scalp each day.

FGF7 and noggin (NOG) both play a role in ensuring the normal formation of hair follicles.

The study authors summarised their investigational findings from the AnaGain Nu oral pea sprout extract trial, where 21 Caucasian volunteers aged 22 to 63 years, were administered a 100 mg dose per day for 8 weeks in the form of a dietary supplement.

Pea Sprout Extract hair loss treatment hair growth supplement AnaGain Nu diagram
Hair follicle diagram: Proposed mode of action of the pea sprout extract AnaGain™ Nu (Source: Phytotherapy Research)

They note this “significantly reduced hair loss already after 28 days of treatment (p < 0.002). No adverse events were reported. Consequently, pea sprout extract may be an effective means to safely promote hair growth and reduce hair loss in individuals experiencing excessive hair shedding.”

As the research was funded by the same company that developed and owns AnaGain and AnaGain Nu, randomised, blind, independent testing is required, as well as larger scale clinical trials, to establish a fuller picture as to their efficacy, safety and tolerability for a range of age groups, races and durations.

Hair growth product, food supplement or hair loss treatment?

Another aspect that is crucial to clarify is which hair loss conditions the product is designed to treat or ‘address’.

Should the topical or oral products be deemed medical hair loss treatments – clinically-proven to treat certain specified hair loss conditions – they would need appropriate authorisations from the relevant medical regulatory authorities in each country in order to claim to treat hair loss. In the UK, this would mean being MHRA-licensed, and, in the USA, this would involve getting FDA-approved.

Currently the only genetic hair loss treatments to have gained the status of being both MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved are high strength minoxidil, a unisex topical solution used to promote hair growth, and finasteride 1mg, an oral DHT-blocker which can be taken by medically-suitable men aged 18 and over.

If the products do not gain these authorisations, they cannot claim to treat hair loss, be ‘hair loss products‘ or make any hair growth claims either. Without the official licenses and approvals, these types of products are essentially considered cosmetic, non-medicinal items.

Hair Vitalics for Women Hair Vitalics for Men food supplement for healthy hair growth from The Belgravia Centre Hair Clinic London

The oral AnaGain Nu appears to be leaning towards ‘food supplement’ status. This also means it is not authorised as a ‘hair loss treatment’ or medicine of any kind so it cannot make official claims about treating hair loss or promoting hair growth; products in the food supplement category can be largely unregulated, and should not be used in place of a balanced, healthy diet.

When using food supplements it is always wise to stick to trustworthy, professional brands to give yourself the best chance of getting a high quality product. For example, Belgravia hair specialists have used their 25-plus years of experience to develop an exclusive range of highly-targeted food supplements – Hair Vitalics – which are available in For Men and For Women formulations.

These contain a bespoke blend of hair-friendly vitamins, minerals, amino acids and botanical extracts to support the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth and can be taken on their own or used alongside hair loss medications.

“Although these trials into the potential use of pea sprout extract to help encourage hair growth and reduce hairloss are certainly interesting, it is findings from larger, independent trials that should provide the most compelling data, so I look forward to seeing this in due course as a safe, tolerable and effective natural hair loss solution is definitely something we would welcome,” says Belgravia superintendent pharmacist prescriber and senior hair loss specialist, Christina Chikaher.


Circ - Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinics LondonThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

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A film tracing a man’s hair loss journey has been described as an “unstoppable” force after a hugely successful opening weekend at the Indian box office.

Bala is a Hindi-language comedy, now also playing in the UK, which examines the insecurities of a young man, Balmukund ‘Bala’ Shukla played by Ayushmann Khurrana, who is losing his hair to Male Pattern Baldness.

Reviews of Bala in the Indian press have praised the “entertaining” film’s “very important message” (Bollywood Hungama), “situations that are relatable” (The Times of India) and the way “it makes the right jokes at the time and leaves you in stitches more often than you’d expect” (The Hindu).

Explores ways to hide hair loss

Filmed in Mumbai and Lucknow, Bala follows the star character’s life over a number of years, from teasing one of his childhood school teachers about having thinning hair, to starting to lose his own.

It charts the lead’s many attempts to hide his hairloss, and experiments with different hair loss products, including exploring hair transplant surgery and being given a wig by his father. Continues below

As his sadness at seeing extra hair fall in the shower and caught in his brush, grows, Bala even tries traditional Ayurvedic hair growth remedies and mythical natural hairloss treatments, involving topically-applied turmeric and eggs – somewhat unsurprisingly – to no avail.

The movie also touches on skin-lightening and colourism in communities of colour, with both story-lines ultimately leading to a message of self-acceptance and positivity, reminding viewers that their appearance does not define them.

After a special media screening of the film in Mumbai, cast member, Yami Gautum – who plays Bala’s love interest Pari, until she discovers his balding – told The Times of India, “I feel bald men are really cool. They look really cool. The idea of the film is to tell people that they should love themselves first, and only then can you expect others to love you.”

Clinically-proven hair loss solutions

For men like Bala who have genetic hair loss but would prefer to keep their hair, there are a number of recognised hair loss solutions available.

Male Pattern Baldness is a common, permanent, hereditary condition whereby hair along the top of the scalp, crown and hairline gradually thins over a number of years.

This is the result of an inherited sensitivity to the hormone dihyrotestosterone, more commonly known as DHT. This binds to the hair follicles, slowly weakening the hairs and slowing down hair growth, with hair becoming thinner and thinner, until it falls out completely.

It can begin any time following puberty for those with the relevant genetic predisposition, and by the age of 35, approximately 40 to 66 per cent of men will have noticeable hair loss.

As long as the affected hair follicles are still active and capable of producing hair, even if that hair is thin, there are clinically-proven, MHRA-licensed and FDA-approved Male Pattern Hair Loss treatments which can help in accelerating hair growth and preventing baldness.

These are high strength minoxidil, a dose-dependent medication which comes in a number of formulations and is applied directly to the scalp; the other is a DHT-blocking tablet, finasteride 1mg, which can be taken once per day by medically-suitable men aged 18 and over.

Additional hair growth supporting products, such as low-level laser therapy devices including HairMax’s FDA-cleared LaserBands, which are used for a few minutes, three times per week, to stimulate the follicles, can also be used alongside these pharmaceutical elements. Food supplements, whilst not intended to treat hair loss nor replace a balanced diet, can also be useful in contributing to the maintenance of normal healthy hair growth.

Recommendations for an optimal treatment plan based around appropriate medications and additional products will be made by a dedicated hair loss specialist following a consultation, either in-person or online. These take into account a number of unique factors, including each individual’s condition, level and pattern of shedding, and medical profile.

Belgravia cannot send treatments or products to India, but those based there can show their local doctor or dermatologist our dedicated hair loss treatment page, to see if similar options are available in their area. Some of the items featured are exclusive to Belgravia Centre hair loss clinics, but not all.


Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Clinic Hair Loss Specialist Free ConsultationThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is an organisation specialising in hair growth and hair loss prevention with two clinics and in-house pharmacies in Central London, UK. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which includes the world’s largest gallery of hair growth comparison photos and demonstrates the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time to arrange a free consultation.

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