Medications for Hair Loss

For men and women with androgenetic alopecia – male or female pattern baldness – the affects can be devastating. Unfortunately, there are no medications that can completely grow a full head of hair but medications for hair loss can certainly slow or halt the hair loss process, strengthen existing follicles, and grow some new hair if taken regularly.

Rogaine (Minoxidil)

Rogaine has been around for a number of years and has proven to be effective in slowing or stopping hair loss for men and women. It can also promote hair regrowth in some patients. Rogaine must be used indefinitely for continued support of existing hair follicles and the maintenance of any experienced hair regrowth.

The effectiveness of Rogaine has had greater results in young men and women who have experienced hair loss for 5 years and is less effective when there is a large area of hair loss.

Rogaine needs to be applied twice per day and used consistently. For maximum results, the solution should be in contact with the scalp for at least 4 hours before getting the hair wet.

Propecia (Finasteride)

Propecia is available by prescription and is taken once per day in pill form. Studies have shown about a 30% improvement in hair los after six months of treatment, which persists with continued use of the drug.

Propecia is not approved for use in women due to risk of birth defects in a fetus. It’s classified in the FDA pregnancy category X.

Adverse side effects with propecia are rare but the FDA has add a warning of increased risk of prostate cancer with use as the treatment lowers PSA, which could mask the development of prostate cancer.

There are also reports of propecia causing sexual dysfunction after use though this topic is highly controversial. The FDA has updated the label to inform healthcare professionals of case reports showing diminished libido or erectile dysfunction after stopping the drug.

Combination Therapy

For patients who have already considered a significant amount of hair loss, Dr. Thompson typically recommends a combined approach of hair transplant surgery and medication use to maintain results. For more information, visit the hair transplant surgery page.

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