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Medication for Hair Loss

We all naturally lose hair daily. In fact, it is estimated that the average person loses between 50 and 100 hairs every day. As this is such a small fraction of the total number of hairs on our head, we hardly notice this loss, and new hairs quickly take their place. However, if you are experiencing more hair loss than this, it can be distressing and become a cause for concern. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia, and though it is most common in older adults, it can affect people at any age. Fortunately, there is medication available to help fight it.

What Causes Hair Loss?

There are many different genetic, medical, and lifestyle factors that can cause hair loss, so, if you believe you are suffering from alopecia, it is important that you visit a doctor to determine the reason for it. In many cases, hair loss is simply the product of ageing. As we get older, hair growth naturally slows down, and eventually, hair follicles stop growing new hair, which causes the hair on our scalp to grow thin. 

 

Hair loss can also be hereditary, in which case it is your inherited genes that cause your hair follicles to shrink and stop growing new hair. If you have a family history of alopecia, then you may be suffering from this type of hair loss. Alternatively, hair loss can be caused by certain medical conditions, such as thyroid disease, scalp infections, or alopecia areata (which is when your immune system erroneously attacks hair follicles). Hair loss can also be a side effect of medication, as drugs that are used to treat arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, heart problems, and cancer can all potentially cause hair loss. Additionally, hormonal imbalance can prompt alopecia, which can be the product of pregnancy, childbirth, discontinuing the use of birth control pills, menopause, or conditions such as polycystic ovary syndrome. Finally, stress, weight loss, or iron deficiency can also trigger hair loss.

How to Treat Hair Loss?

There are many different hair loss treatments available that can help to restore both your head of hair and your confidence. Laser light therapy is a procedure that uses red light to treat partial hair loss and pattern baldness. Alternatively, hair transplant surgery can treat common types of permanent alopecia. Finally, medications such as Finasteride, Minoxidil, and Dutasteride can be prescribed to treat hair loss.

Medication for Hair Loss:

Finasteride

Finasteride is a hair loss treatment in the form of a pill, and you will need a prescription in order to take it. It is available under the name Propecia. More importantly, this hair growth medicine is only suitable for men over the age of 18, so women and children should not use it. Finasteride works by stopping your body from producing DHT (dihydrotestosterone)—the hormone that is responsible for causing male pattern baldness. The hair growth pill is taken once a day, though your doctor may recommend that you take it alongside Minoxidil.

Most people who take Finasteride experience a slowing of hair loss, and some show new hair growth. However, it can take a few months to see the effects of the hair loss treatment and to know that it is working for you. Once you notice results from the treatment, you will have to continue taking Finasteride indefinitely in order to maintain the look.

Minoxidil

Minoxidil is a treatment for hair loss that comes in the form of a liquid, foam, or shampoo. It is available over-the-counter, so you do not need a prescription to obtain it. It is sometimes sold under the names Rogaine or Theroxidil. The hair growth medicine comes in two strengths, 2% and 5%, with the latter being the more effective of the two. It can be taken by both men and women, and it is most successful when it is used by people who have only recently started to lose their hair. 

 

Minoxidil stops hair follicles from shrinking and increases blood flow to the scalp, which nourishes the roots of your hair with oxygen and nutrients, stimulating growth. Additionally, the hair loss treatment extends the growth phase of each hair follicle, which means that they produce hair for longer. Most people who take the medicine experience some hair regrowth or find that the rate of hair loss is slowed, but it can take up to four months to notice these changes. Women should apply the product to the skin of their scalp once a day, whilst men should use Minoxidil twice a day to achieve hair growth. The effects of the hair loss treatment are not permanent, therefore you need to continue taking the medicine in order to maintain the effects. 

Dutasteride

Dutasteride is a treatment for hair loss that is taken in the form of a pill or a capsule. It is only suitable for men who are over the age of 18, so it must not be taken by women or children. Like Finasteride, Dutasteride works by preventing the body from producing a hormone called DHT, which is responsible for causing male pattern baldness.

To slow the rate of hair loss and experience hair regrowth, Dutasteride should be taken once a day, ideally at the same time of day. The pill should be swallowed whole and not chewed or crushed. The hair growth medicine is most effective when it is taken at an early stage of hair loss, and it must be taken long-term to retain the effects. 

Hair growth medicines undergo several clinical trials before they are used by the general public, and these treatments all have a history of success. Finasteride slows or stops hair loss in 90% of men, and it stimulates new hair growth in 67% of men. Meanwhile, Minoxidil is effective for approximately two out of three people. However, all of these hair loss treatments are more effective if they are used at an early stage of hair loss.

Although it is rare, both Finasteride and Dutasteride can potentially diminish a person’s sex drive and cause erectile dysfunction or ejaculation problems. These side effects will clear up as soon as you stop taking the hair growth medicine. Additionally, both hair loss pills can increase the risk of prostate cancer, though this is also rare.

Although it is not a hair loss pill but a shampoo, Minoxidil can potentially cause scalp irritation (such as redness, flaking, dryness, or itching) or unwanted hair growth on areas such as the face or hands.

You should only take the Finasteride and Dutasteride pills after your healthcare provider has confirmed that you are a suitable candidate for the medication and provided you with a prescription. Additionally, it is best to take hair loss medication at an early stage of hair loss, as this is when hair growth medicine is most effective.

Minoxidil is available without a prescription. It can be purchased over the counter in the form of a liquid, foam, or shampoo.

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