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What Are the Causes of Hair Loss in Women?If you had the power to stop and reverse your hair loss, would you? Hair loss is a common issue that can hold a different meaning for every individual.

There are lots of men who will be happy to tell you that baldness is a sign of virility or even that, “Bald is beautiful!” Very few women however are not distressed if they experience excessive hair loss and many cover it up with hairstyles, makeup, hats or scarves.

Others choose medications – particularly in the case of female pattern hair loss which is a permanent condition but can usually be easily be managed with on-going treatment– or hair replacement systems, or sometimes even surgical procedures to deal with the problem.

However not all forms of hair loss are permanent. So how do you know when and if you should do something about it?

Let’s take a look at some of the temporary conditions and what can be done to correct them.

Temporary Hair Loss:

Chronic Telogen Effluvium / Diffuse Thinning

Diffuse thinning is frequently seen in women. It is not the type of hair loss where you wake up in the morning and your hair is gone. Rather it is the kind that sees extra hairs in your comb, a few more in the sink and will eventually cause your hair to become noticeably thinner each time you look in the mirror.

Chronic Telogen Effluvium, as diffuse hair loss is also known, results in a general thinning all over the scalp and a detailed clinical history must be taken as there are a number of factors that could be linked to the condition. Diet should be checked for adequate intake of nutrients, clinical investigations should be made for thyroid, haemoglobin and hormonal problems; stress may also be a contributing factor.

Treatment for Diffuse Thinning once the underlying cause has been identified and dealt with, has produced many encouraging regrowth results as can be seen in our Success Stories.

Telogen effluvium

Telogen effluvium is a form of diffuse hair loss many women experience, especially after giving birth. It can be brought on by emotional distress, such as a death in the family, or after a physical stress, such as a high fever, sudden or excessive weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, surgery, or serious illness. It causes thinning hair all over the whole scalp.

Normally, the hair goes through cycles of growth (lasting about two or three years) and rest (lasting about three or four months). During anagen (growth), hair grows about half an inch each month and when it reaches telogen (rest), the hair strand falls out and a new one grows in its place. Most people shed 50 to 100 hairs per day and this amount of hair loss is considered normal and does not cause noticeable thinning of the scalp hair.

However telogen effluvium causes the timing of the resting (telogen) phase to be reset. A couple of months later, too many strands fall out at the same time resulting in overall hair thinning and the sufferer who by this stage, may find it difficult to pin-point a cause, is left in a panic. Hair typically grows back once the condition that caused the hair loss corrects itself, but it can takes months.

If the stress was a one-off, then telogen effluvium will often correct itself,Leonora Doclis, senior hair loss specialist at The Belgravia Centre’s flagship clinic notes. “However, treatment for the loss of hair can help to minimize the damage, particularly if there is a tendency toward female pattern hair loss, whilst the body is dealing with the crisis.”

Other Causes of Hair Loss in Women

There are a number of things that can prompt increased shedding and affect the condition of the hair, such as having inadequate protein or iron in your diet. This is often seen with fad diets, crash diets, and illnesses, such as eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia.

Illnesses like diabetes and lupus can also cause hair loss as a side effect, as can some prescription medications used to treat a number of unrelated health issues including gout, arthritis, depression, heart problems and high blood pressure. Taking birth control pills also may result in hair loss for some women.

Causes of Baldness

Instead of thinning, some people develop bald patches.

Traction Alopecia

This can occur if you regularly wear certain hairstyles, such as ponytails, braids, dreadlocks or if you use tight rollers. Hair loss typically occurs where hair is pulled tightly but if the pulling is stopped before there is scarring of your scalp and permanent damage to the root, hair usually grows back normally. The problem is that when the hair starts to thin, most people cover it with weaves or add hair extensions until the condition gets so bad that very little can be done.

If the hair starts to thin and becomes an issue for the person, instead of adding artificial coverage they should consult a professional,” Leonora recommends. “At least that way they can be educated on hair styling if that is what the problem is.”

The hair loss may also be linked to female pattern hair loss in which case it’s best to catch as early as possible. “If the follicles have shriveled and the area has gone smooth, then it’s very unlikely the condition can be reversed,” Leonora explains. Treatment for Traction Alopecia is available and a personalised plan can be formulated to address simultaneous hair loss conditions should two, or more, be present at the same time.

Traction alopecia should not be confused with trichotillomania, which is a obsessive condition in which people have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair, from their scalp, their eyebrows or other areas of their body. Hair pulling from the scalp often leaves them with patchy bald spots on their head, which they may go to great lengths to disguise. No specific cause has been found for trichotillomania but psychiatrists regard trichotillomania as a psychological disorder and treatment will usually involve therapy. Trichotillomania sufferers have also been known to eat the hair that they pull out – this is a condition called Trichophagia.

Alopecia Areata

In alopecia areata, hair loss usually occurs in small, round, smooth patches on the scalp, but hair loss can crop up on any area that has hair, including the eyebrows, eyelashes and beard. It is a condition that might cure itself or might progress, possibly even leading to complete baldness over the head (alopecia totalis) or even over the whole body (alopecia universalis), however both of these cases are extremely rare. No-one knows much about what causes alopecia areata but it is classified as an autoimmune condition and can be triggered by stress.  People who develop the condition are generally in good health but some may have other autoimmune disorders such as a thyroid condition.

They are of similar nature, so the genetic tendency is always there,” Leonora says. “For instance, psoriasis is a condition where the immune system attacks the skin, but in alopecia it’s the hair.”

The hair will frequently grow back by itself with no treatment or if not there are effective Alopecia Areata treatments that help to regrow hair lost from moderate cases of patchy hair loss.

The rule of thumb is that if it hasn’t grown back in six months, then it’s time to consider treatment,” Leonora advises.

Effective Treatment for Hair Loss

Minoxidil DropperMost of the time, in the conditions mentioned above, the situation will correct itself and the hair loss will stop. Unfortunately however, this is not always the case and the problem won’t go away by simply combing and pinning the hair to hide the loss or wearing a headscarf.

There are plenty of miracle cures on the shelves to choose from but there only two options (for women) that are clinically proven, and approved by the FDA, to be the best hair loss treatment products. These are of course minoxidil and the HairMax LaserComb.

Whilst not a proven treatment for hair loss, it is usually recommended that women use a herbal supplement to complement one or more of the proven treatments. A supplement will supply the body with a number of vitamins, minerals and nutrients to ensure healthy hair growth. No supplement has been proven to effectively stop hair loss or generate new growth but they work to improve the strength and quality of the hair.

The effective treatment of female hair loss requires a combined approach that tackles all possible causes. A professional treatment course aimed at halting the shedding and encouraging regrowth should start with a diagnosis of the problem by a hair loss specialist nurse along with a discussion and a search for contributory lifestyle and health factors. On-going monitoring and advice is important so that progress can be checked and the treatment can be adjusted if necessary. With a combined, professional programme, women’s hair loss can often be stopped and often reversed.

The Belgravia CentreThe Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. 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 UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.

Related Stories

Scientists at the Gladstone Institutes of Cardiovascular Disease (GICD) have found that a fat synthesizing enzyme may be the key to healthy skin and hair in research which could lead to new ways to treat hair loss and maintain healthy locks.

“For some time, we have been studying the enzymes that make triglycerides,” said Robert V. Farese, Jr., senior investigator and author on the study. “We found that one of these enzymes is a major regulator of retinoic acid actions in the skin.”

Hair loss in miceWhen researchers used genetic engineering to delete the enzyme known as DGAT1 in mice, they found its absence caused levels of retinoic acid (RA) to be greatly increased in the skin, resulting in alopecia, or hairloss. A GICD release said these effects could be prevented by depriving the mice of a source of retinol in their diet.

Retinoic acid (RA), which comes from vitamin A (retinol), is essential for many biological processes and has been used to treat skin disorders, such as acne and psoriasis, and certain cancers, but it is fairly toxic and must be carefully controlled.

The study discovered that DGAT1 can convert retinol to a relatively idle storage form but without DGAT1, this ability is lost and any excess retinol is converted to RA.

In mice without DGAT1, the skin was very sensitive to retinol and they were lean, resistant to diet-induced obesity, more sensitive to insulin and leptin, and had abnormalities in skin and mammary gland (milk-producing organ) development.

“Our results show that DGAT1 is an important component for controlling retinoic acid levels in the skin of mice,” said Michelle Shih, one of the authors on the study. “These findings may have implications for the treatment of human skin or hair disorders.”
The Gladstone researchers have begun to clarify mechanisms for the hair loss and even to identify treatments that cause the hair to grow back.

(Mouse pic courtesy of be khe at flickr)

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MHRA Medical License X | FDA Approval X | Food Supplement Tick

Viviscal is a natural food supplement intended to nourish hair follicles and promotes the growth of existing hair where it has slowed down or temporarily stopped. It contains an AminoMar C™ Marine Complex that Viviscal claims is what helps deliver the nutrients essential for hair growth.

Natural products and supplements must not make medicinal claims, such as that they can “treat hair loss”, but they are not required to prove their claims in clinical trials. Viviscal is not a medicinal product, and as such it is not subjected to approval and licensing by the MHRA or FDA

The Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency and the Food and Drug Administration are responsible for approving medicinal products in the UK and US respectively, and licensing them for a specific purpose once they have unequivocally demonstrated safety and efficacy in treating that condition. You can therefore only be sure that a product is effective to its stated cause if it has been licensed by these bodies.

The MHRA and FDA have only licensed and approved two products for the express purpose of treating hair loss. You can find more information about those products here – Hair Loss Treatment for Men | Hair Loss Treatment for Women

Viviscal Natural Hair Loss TreatmentThe Belgravia Centre does not offer Viviscal but it can be purchased at most pharmacies, including Boots, and online via its website.

Viviscal Ingredients:
AminoMar C™ (Marine Complex)
Acerola Cherry Extract (Malphigia Glabra L)
Microcrystalline Cellulose (E460)
Horsetail Extract (Equisetum Arvense L.)
Natural Orange Flavor
Magnesium Stearate

Alopecia areata sufferer Julia Crittendon has written a book in hope it will offer encouragement to other female Alopecia Areata sufferers, after she found no literary or any support other than her family when she was diagnosed seven years ago.

Her recent self published book, “Metamorphosis: Inspirational Stories of Women Living with Alopecia”, charts the experiences of 22 women as the dealt with hair loss and what it’s like to be a bald woman.

Bald is beautifulAutoimmune hair loss

Hair loss is not a male-restricted domain, it can affect up to 40 per cent of women and alopecia areata specifically, can affect as many as one person in a thousand at some time in their life and spares no regard for age or gender.

It is a condition of hair loss which falls into the category of autoimmune diseases, which means for one reason or another, the body’s own immune system mistakenly attacks the hair follicles. The result is rapid and patchy hair loss, usually starting with one or more small, round, smooth bald patches on the scalp which can, in extreme cases, progress to alopecia totalis (total scalp hair loss) or alopecia universalis (complete body hair loss).

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune condition which, with monitored treatment, can see results. However there is no prognosis to determine its success.

If hair loss is still in the patchy stages there is better chance of regrowth,” trichologist Leonora Doclis said. “Very often it grows back spontaneously by itself but if it hasn’t after six months it might be worth considering treatment.”

Psychological impacts

Despite the statistics, baldness in women remains a very hush-hush issue but the impact cannot be written off as mere vanity.

For all sufferers the condition can be a shocking and traumatic experience,”says Leonora.

A study on the psychosocial impact of alopecia areata found that the condition causes dramatic and devastating emotions in patients, which can negatively affect their self-esteem, body image and self-confidence.

Sometimes doing something about it might be enough to make you feel better,” Leonora explains. “But it is discretionary and sometimes people need further help when general family support isn’t enough. In these cases I would recommend counseling.

The psychological impact can be heightened in women because of social pressures on them to be attractive.

People are still hiding from it,” Julia from Mansfield, Ohio said. “These women are standing up to what was meant to destroy and depress them and are turning it into positive, productive energy so that the next woman who loses her ‘crown and glory’ won’t fall victim to what society deems as ‘normal’.”

Wig‘Take me as I am’

The women who contributed to the book described it as a therapeutic journey. Jenn Pendergrast from Florida who was diagnosed in 2006 said she has finally accepted that she is totally bald.

“It was actually the first time I put my story into words and I cried the entire time I was writing,” she said. “It felt awesome to put all that had happened into words for others to read.

Netherlands resident Tamara Cramer Bornemann, who also contributed to the book, was diagnosed with alopecia areata when she was five years-old. “I only wore a wig once, when I was about seven years-old, and I didn’t feel too good about it,” she said. “So from that moment I went through life without a wig. The teenage years were pretty difficult because I wanted to be normal. In my 20s I felt in bloom and enjoyed life.”

Julia said it took her five years before she went bald in public. At one point she tried wearing a $3,000 wig but these days she shaves her head. She recalls telling herself before her first outing, “This is me, take me as I am.”

(Images courtesy of arianne… at flickr)

Related Articles

Alopecia Areata Condition and Treatment Information   |   Alopecia Areata – Cleared up in Most Cases    |   My daughter has alopecia areata – what can be done?

Circ The Belgravia Centre Hair Loss Treatment for Alopecia Areata

The Belgravia Centre

The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. 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 UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.


Has anyone ever told you wearing a hat all the time leads to baldness, or do you think if there’s no sign of hair loss on your mother’s side you’ll be safe? Hair loss is a condition that can cause a lot of sleepless nights and with so many myths surrounding the issue it can be hard to get a straight answer to these old wives’ tales and get to the bottom of what can be done to prevent and treat the loss of hair.

Here to debunk the myths and lay down the facts are Dr. Elena Dimitrova and trichologist Leonora Doclis, both experts in hair and scalp care.

Bald old man

True or false?
Hair loss is an old man’s ailment

There are many different types of hair loss and none of them are limited to the elderly or men in general. Alopecia areata, traction alopecia, trichotillomania, pseudopelade, and diffuse hair loss are just some forms of hair loss that are seen frequently in women and sometimes children. Yet the most common form of hair loss is male and female attern baldness which can affect up to 80 percent of men and roughly 40 percent of women.

“All the hair loss sufferers I see think they’re too young for this to be happening to them,” Leonora said. “However, male and female pattern baldness are progressive conditions and can begin as early as puberty.” Still, baldness is not imminent if treatment for the condition is taken early enough.


True or false?
Hair loss is inherited from the mother’s side of the family

Hairloss, in the majority of cases, is a hereditary condition in which the gene can be carried on both sides of the family.

“In 1946 an expert claimed premature baldness, before the age of 40, may be linked to the mother’s side,” trichologist Leonora Doclis said, “but this was disputed shortly after. There was no research to support the dispute, it was merely a suggestion.”

It wasn’t until recently that two genetic variants were identified that can be inherited through either parent. If these two variants are present, along with the gene which has always been recognised from the mother’s side, the risk of baldness, in men at least, increases sevenfold.

“Male and female pattern hair loss is polygenic,” Leonora said. “The tendency can come from either side of the family and can even skip generations. If your father is bald it does not necessarily mean you will go bald but your chances are significantly higher.”

True or false?
Does blow-drying cause hair loss?Excessive washing and blow drying causes hair loss


Regular hair care and maintenance such as washing, combing, dyeing and blow-drying will not result in hair loss. It is good hygiene to wash hair frequently and whilst dyeing and blow-drying can damage the hair itself by pulling on it and burning, it will not cause hair to stop growing.

“High heat from blow-drying will result in dry and brittle hair but not hair loss,” Dr. Dimitrova said. “Using heat protecting serums will prevent this.”

If you’re worried about the amount of hair you see in the sink or your comb after washing or combing, take heed in the fact that shedding about 100 hairs a day is normal. If you think it could be more, take the DIY hair loss test.

Balding man

True or false?
Stress causes hair loss

Diffuse thinning and telogen effluvium are forms of hair loss which are directly caused by stress. These conditions are characterised by an overall thinning of the hair on the scalp when certain hair follicles prematurely stop growing and enter into the telogen (resting) phase before falling out after about three months.

“There are many things that can cause hair loss,” Dr. Dimitrova said, “such as thyroid problems, polycystic ovarian syndrome, severe illness, fever and medication.” Acne treatment such as Roaccutane, Omeprazole (used to treat dyspepsia, stomach ulcers and reflux) and most anti-cancer medications can all cause hair loss.

In cases of male and female pattern baldness (the most common form of hair loss), stress will not cause hair loss. It is a condition where its sufferers carry the gene which will eventually cause them to lose hair but there are a number of factor which may trigger its onset. Stress could be one of these. Other triggering factors could include hormones (which is why hair loss can sometimes occur as early as puberty or as late as post-menopause), physical trauma, infection and even smoking and other chemicals.

True or false?
Wearing tight braids, ponytails or buns causes hair loss

Traction alopecia is a hair loss condition that is caused by excessive amounts of tension on the hair shafts which can damage the hair follicle. Over long periods of time under these circumstances, Traction Alopecia will cause the production of hair to slow down and finally stop growing all together. Early treatment for this condition is vital if natural regrowth is to occur.

“All hair loss problems have to be treated at the right time, that is, early,” Dr. Dimitrova said.

Do hats cause hair loss?

True or false?
Hats and caps cause hair loss

Though wearing a tight fitting cap or hat can interfere with blood circulation to the hair follicles, there is no scientific proof that they are capable of causing hair loss.

“This myth comes from the pattern of hair loss which is most likely to be seen on the crown,” Leonora said. “I’ve also heard myths about water and high pressure when washing your hair but of course these are not true causes for hair loss.”

Tried and true hair loss treatments

With literally hundreds of hair loss products on the market today, the truth of their claims can be as difficult to verify as the myths stated above. Mousse, gels and shampoos all promising to help hair grow thicker, supplements and all other types of potions claiming to be the miracle cure and increase hair growth are all simply scams with no scientific evidence. These potentially unsafe remedies are targeted at people who are desperately seeking a true solution.

The fact is there are only two FDA approved treatments and one FDA cleared device for hair loss which are medically and scientifically proven to stop hair loss and promote regrowth. It’s time to stop worrying about hair loss and sifting through the shelves for a cure when we already have one – or technically three. More information on HAIR LOSS TREATMENTS.

Did you know..?

British men in th 17th century were told to slap on some chicken dung to keep from going bald! Thank goodness we’ve come a long way since then.

(Images courtesy of J Wynia, malias and Steven Fernandez at flickr)

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Is it a myth that nothing can be done about hair loss?

According to Candace Hoffmann’s Breaking the Silence on Women’s Hair Loss one in four women in the US are coping with hair loss. That’s not “will get hair loss sometime in their lives” .. it’s “are currently coping”.

That’s just short of 30 million people (Wikipedia) at any one time in the US, and about 5 million in the UK.

“For every five men with hereditary hair loss, there are three women who are also losing their hair”.

Some treatments for hair loss in women and here’s a blog on women’s hair loss.

Jennifer's hair extensionsFor something that provides very little practical use, there’s no denying our crowning glory says a lot about who we are and plays a big part in our level of self-esteem. Thanks to Posh’s pixie ’do, Gwen’s patent peroxide look and Britney’s constant image changes, we’ve got plenty of inspiration to dabble with experimental looks and the latest styles. But the damaging effects of excess styling and treatments such as hair extensions can put unnecessary strain on the hair and lead to a situation far worse than a case of Madonna-style regrowth.

Hair extensions are seen as a way to get long hair instantly and disguise thinning hair and hair loss. However, as Jennifer Aniston will tell you, the glamorous affiliation of hair extensions with bold, voluminous locks is a sad realisation which ultimately deteriorates the quality of your hair.

“Nothing destroys your hair faster than extensions. It’s taken a year and a half to get my hair grown out,” Jennifer Aniston told Harper’s Bazaar. “I decided to have a couple of extensions, never knowing you end up with 400 things in your head that cause your hair to break off.”

Extensions are made from either real hair or artificial hair which are woven into the hair and then glued or heat-sealed to stay in place.

“Hair extensions are one of the worst possible things you can do to your hair,” said trichologist Leonora Doclis of the Belgravia Centre.

They can actually lead to further hairloss or thinning by pulling on existing hair and lead to premature shedding and may even leave temporary, or in rare cases permanent bald patches. Weaving can also damage hair follicles causing breakage at the point of attachment. Since the technique can be damaging to existing hair strands, people need to think about the risks of the procedure. If you have very little hair, extensions may not be worth it because of the risk of increased hair loss.

“Although the damage is usually minimal, sometimes it can be long term. There are also very few occasions in which hair extensions do not cause some sort of damage to your hair,” Leonora said.

The damage caused by hair extensions will, in most cases, correct themselves. However Leonora has seen cases where the damage is so severe it resembles alopecia areata. In these cases there are treatments that can help speed up the regrowth process and may be more effective in the long-term to address concerns of thinning hair .

“I am very against hair extensions and advise my clients with thin hair to get a wig instead, as they can only cause more damage.”

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MHRA Medical License X   |   FDA Approval X   |   Food Supplement Tick

Nourkrin is a supplement advertised for the prevention of hair loss. Nourkrin’s main ingredient (as stated on their website) is ‘cartilage from deep-sea fish’, as well as other minerals and vitamins. It is these ingredients that Nourkrin claim prevent hair loss and promote hair growth for those experiencing hair loss.

Nourkrin is not a medicinal product, and is not licensed in the UK or USA by the medical regulatory authorities – the Medicines and Healthcare Product Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) respectively. Click on the links to find out the importance of the medical regulatory bodies – MHRA and FDA.

There are only two medicinal products that have been licensed in the UK and USA for the prevention of hair loss. These two products are currently the only ones proven to prevent and reverse hair loss in most cases. For more information visit our Hair Loss Treatment pages. Hair Loss Treatment Men | Hair Loss Treatment Women.

NourkrinThe Belgravia Centre does not offer Nourkrin but it can be purchased from highstreet health stores such as Holland and Barrett or Boots.

Nourkrin Ingredients:
Extract Compound of Marine Origin (Shark cartilage and other shellfish)
Acerola Cherry Extract (Vitamin C 30mg)
Silica Kieselguhr (special soluble naturally occurring silica)
Horsetail extract
Immunoglobulin G (IgG) Protein
Microcrystaline Cellulose
Magnesium Stearate
Fatty acids

If you happen to be in Arizona or Pennsylvania and undertaking whole-brain radiotherapy (gulp), you might be eligible and willing to help with the trial of a hair loss gel intended to prevent hair loss. Contact the company directly.

Results are due mid next year and we will, of course, keep an eye out for the results and for any possible wider uses of Tempol, the active ingredient.

No idle pub claim, that’s the cold assessment of Ronald Noble, the Secretary General of Interpol who says that 40 years of terrorism has killed about 65,000 people, while 200,000 people died from the use of counterfeit drugs last year alone, and that’s just in China.

It’s a growing problem in the UK too. UK customs seized 500,000 counterfeit pills last year… but they only check 0.1% of the pharmaceuticals entering the country. It doesn’t take much to estimate that for every man, woman and child in this country there are eight counterfeit pills entering the country every year. Your chance of encountering one is probably higher than you think.

Counterfeit Drugs More Deadly Than TerrorismWhy are counterfeit drugs a problem?

– They may contain very little or no active ingredient. So you won’t be getting the medication you need or paid for, leaving you vulnerable to the illness you’re trying to cure
– They may contain harmful chemicals by design
– They are not made to the same standards, so may contain impurities. Recent findings include anti-freeze and lead-based road paint.

When you pay money for counterfeit drugs, you’re supporting criminality and undermining society.

A research project conducted by Pfizer in September 2008 in UK cities concluded that 10% of men admitted to buying prescription-only medicines from unregulated sources such as the Internet. It is estimated that between 50-90 per cent of medicines sold on the Internet have proven to be counterfeit which means they are taking a real gamble with their health. This led Pfizer to work with other agencies to produce a hard hitting cinema ad showing a man regurgitating a dead rat after taking medicines purchased online that contained rat-poison. This was only suitable for viewers over 15 years of age.

The MHRA also launched a #FakeMeds campaign to help raise awareness of the fact that ‘more than half of all medications bought online are fake’. Its dedicated website advises people on how to report suspected fake drugs, their vendors and how to check whether an online pharmacy is genuine.

Recognising genuine pharmacies

It’s perfectly legal in the UK for a pharmacy to trade online. All UK pharmacies (including online ones) have to register with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain. Each should have a registration number which you can check here. The Belgravia Centre houses a specialist trichological pharmacy at each of its Central London and City of London hair loss clinics, registration numbers 1085323 and 1115610, respectively.

A reputable online pharmacy will insist on a doctor’s prescription and confirm your order online. Alternatively, the Belgravia Centre has its own doctor working in the centre who can raise prescriptions as required. Disreputable pharmacies will allow you simply to buy.

How can you tell if an online pharmacy is registered in the UK? Online pharmacies that wish to evade regulation can do so easily by setting up in a country with lax laws and enforcement. Nothing stops someone in the UK viewing that company’s website, which they may have designed to make it look like they are in the UK. At least check for a UK address, and if you happen to know there’s a physical presence here in the UK, that’s even better.

You may feel that having drugs shipped from China is a good thing, providing lower prices and a way to escape from the hegemony of big pharma. The problem is, you do get what you pay for. If the price you see seems too good to be true, it probably is. The World Health Organisation says that of online pharmacies that don’t give an address, 50% of the drugs they sell are fake. No-one knows how many deaths have occurred in the UK as a result of either impurities in the fake drugs, or because of people not getting the medication they need (but thinking they are).

Of course, you should always check any website provides a clear postal address and contact details before making a payment. A site that doesn’t is in breach of the Distance Selling Regulations and should be reported to your local Trading Standards office.

In 2007 the Daily Mail reported on the ‘biggest counterfeit medicine scam ever uncovered in Britain‘. The scam involved sales of the hair loss medicine Propecia, as well as other well-known medicines such as Viagra and Cialis.

Even officials who work full time in this area can no longer tell if a drug is fake just by looking at it or its packaging. Recently the manufacturer of an anti-malarial drug added a hologram to its blisterfoil pack to beat the counterfeiters. It was copied within a month.

Men are a particular target. With a tendency to wait until things are bad before turning up to their GPs, men are more likely to avoid embarrassment by self diagnosing and self medicating. According to Scotland on Sunday, detectives say this is ‘pushing people into the hands of Internet dealers linked to organised crime’. UK men are contributing as much as £10.2m per year to the counterfeit medicines market.

Criminal gangs are moving from producing lifestyle drugs such as Viagra to copying lifesaving drugs such as the fake Zyprexa (a treatment for Schizophrenia) that found its way into the NHS last year. Doing so targets people at their most vulnerable. Many youngsters in Haiti died last year from being given a fake cough syrup.

ChristinaSome warn not only of the problems of funding crime, but of the links between criminal gangs and terrorist groups, and of the possible vulnerability of the UK to an unconventional terrorist attack using fake pharmaceuticals. Buying fake drugs, then, becomes an issue of social responsibility. It’s about what sort of society you want to live in.

The fightback has begun. UK Customs has set the search for counterfeit drugs on a level with the search for hard drugs such as heroin. People who campaign on road safety issues often say something like “it’ll take someone being killed before they lower the speed limit here”. Wrong as that may sound, if true, at least that means the authorities are watching and assessing the risks and allocating their resources accordingly.

Officialdom has to be able to justify its actions. After Thalidomide, when a drug prescribed to pregnant women was found to produce severe birth defects (typically, very short limbs), new rules were introduced to ensure drugs were tested for safety during pregnancy.

The cost of developing a new drug is about $800m, and those costs have to be recouped within 20 years of the drug’s invention. Pharmaceutical companies would surely like to reduce these costs, but the drug safety and efficacy testing regime represents the sum of our experience in how to develop, manufacture and deploy drugs safely. In other words, when something goes wrong, action is taken to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

That, plus the work of the police, customs and everyone else involved gives us confidence generally that the drugs we are prescribed and buy from reputable pharmacies are effective, worth the money, and safe to use.

Always buy medication from a reputable source

As we mentioned, both Belgravia’s City of London and Central London hair loss clinics have their own dedicated pharmacies on-site. This enables clients who visit the centres to collect their medication, safe in the knowledge it has come from a reputable source.

For those based outside London, or abroad, hair loss treatment course components – whether medication, shampoo or hair growth supporting products such as Hair Vitalics – can be sent from our pharmacies to anywhere in the UK as well as to most countries worldwide. Anyone interested in this service should first complete an online consultation in order to receive a diagnosis and personalised hair loss treatment recommendations from one of our specialists. From there, you can discuss these options and decide which solution is best for you before having them dispatched by post or courier.

References: http://www.realdanger.co.uk/  http://www.guardian.co.uk  https://www.belgraviacentre.com/bewarearticle.htm
http://www.mhra.gov.uk  http://scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com/  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thalidomide
http://www.scripnews.com/  http://www.guardian.co.uk/  http://www.ngrguardiannews.com

Circ - Male Pattern Baldness hair loss treatment Belgravia Centre clinic 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.