Within the Hair Guide you will frequently hear us mention the term ‘follicle sensitivity’ when we speak about hair loss. By ‘follicle sensitivity’ we mean follicles that are sensitive to the action of androgens (male hormones).

This sensitivity is not simply ‘caught’ or randomly acquired, but genetically inherited and has been there since birth. It’s important to realise that if you have follicle sensitivity, normal or even sub-normal amounts of circulating androgens can cause hair loss. However, if you have little or no hair follicle sensitivity your hair may not be very affected by extra circulating androgens.

This plays an important role in many types of hair loss from hair loss caused by PCOS, contraceptive pills and stress, to gradual genetic thinning and male pattern hair loss. As well as having the ability to affect hair on your scalp, androgens can also influence the growth of hair on the rest of your body.

However, while male hormones can cause scalp hair to decrease, they can also cause hair elsewhere (such as on your face) to increase. If you have follicle sensitivity you may notice excess body and facial hair, and this is true of both men and women.


There is no cure for follicle sensitivity, but topical and oral treatments are available that can help reduce the action of androgens on hair follicles. Or for women, treatments that decrease the amount of circulating androgens if levels are above the normal range. Often the two methods used in conjunction are most