If you are losing hair or you’ve noticed your hair thinning, then no doubt your first question will be – when will it grow back? Unfortunately, in some cases, hair loss is permanent, but there are a range of treatment options and things you can do to support hair regrowth.

What happens when your hair falls out?

There are roughly 100,000 hair follicles on your head, and each of these hair strands goes through three stages of a growth cycle.

1. Anagen – during this stage hair is actively growing, it lasts between two to eight years.
2. Catagen – in the transition phase, your hair stops growing for four to six weeks.
3. Telogen – this is the resting phase when hair falls out, it lasts two to three months.

Whether your hair grows back – and how long it takes – depends on the underlying cause of your hair loss.

How long before your hair grows back?

There are lots of different types of hair loss, some permanent and others temporary. In cases where regrowth is possible, it can take anywhere between a few months and several years before you see a return to normal.

Male pattern baldness

Also known by its medical name, androgenetic alopecia, this hereditary cause of hair loss often starts with a receding hairline. This type of hair loss is permanent, as the follicle shrivels up and is no longer capable of growing hair.

However, it is possible to slow down this process using hair loss medication like finasteride. You may also have seen these tablets sold under the brand name Propecia – a highly effective treatment for delaying male pattern baldness.

Alopecia areata

Alopecia is an autoimmune disease that attacks hair follicles on the head, though it can occur anywhere on the body. It is characterised by small, coin-sized patches of hair loss, and though the hair may grow back, it is difficult to predict how long it will take.

Stress or trauma

Stress or trauma caused by a medical event, such as childbirth or surgery, can lead to hair loss. This is known as telogen effluvium, when a large number of hair follicles enters the resting phase, and a new cycle of hair growth doesn’t start straight away.

Telogen effluvium can cause thinning hair, but it is unlikely to lead to baldness. You can expect the hair to start growing back six months after you’ve recovered, though in exceptional cases, it can take several years.

Man checking his hairline

Other temporary causes

Often the cause of hair loss is temporary, caused by changes in your body, such as:

  • thyroid problems (too much or too little of the thyroid hormone)
  • nutritional deficiencies, specifically iron and zinc
  • hormone imbalances caused by ageing or menopause
  • scalp psoriasis or an infection, such as ringworm

Once the problem has been treated successfully, you should see a return to normal.

Patients undergoing chemotherapy will also experience rapid hair loss. This is a temporary side effect, and two to three weeks after treatment has stopped, the hair should start to regrow. To begin it will feel soft and fuzzy, but this will improve after a month and normal hair will start to grow in its place.

How quickly does hair regrow?

It is thought that hair grows half an inch every month or around six inches every year. This might seem like a long time to wait, but there are things you can do to support your hair’s restoration to its former glory. Anti-thinning shampoo, for example, stimulates hair growth directly at the roots.

Supporting hair regrowth

To support hair re-growth and strengthen thinning hair, try to maintain a healthy scalp. You can do this by:

  • eating a well-balanced diet high in protein, vitamin C, and iron
  • taking supplements where your diet is lacking, especially iron and folic acid
  • avoiding over-styling your hair and protecting it from sun damage
  • using a shampoo and conditioner with vitamin E and keratin
  • taking a daily treatment like finasteride (Propecia)

Finasteride is available on prescription to treat male pattern baldness. It works by inhibiting the enzyme – dihydrotestosterone – that leads to hereditary hair loss in men (finasteride is not suitable for female pattern baldness).

Clinical trials have shown that finasteride is effective at stimulating hair production and slowing down hair loss.

The next steps

If you are worried about your hair loss, or you are experiencing other symptoms, such as sudden weight loss or a burning, itchy scalp, then you should see your GP.

The cause of your hair loss will determine how long your hair will take to regrow. Maintaining a healthy scalp can support regrowth, alongside a daily medication.

For advice on how to use hair regrowth tablets, like finasteride, speak to one of our team. Our experienced pharmacists can help you identify the right treatment.

Although all of our content is written and reviewed by healthcare professionals, it should not be substituted for or used as medical advice. If you have any questions about your health, please speak to your doctor.

Authored Aug 24, 2021 by Joseph Issac, MPharm
Reviewed Aug 24, 2021 by Prabjeet Saundh, MPharm