The exact treatment for hair loss is determined by the underlying cause of the problem. When an underlying health disorder exacerbates hair fall, treating the ailment alleviates hair loss. Sometimes, excessive hair fall is the side effect of certain drugs used for treating cancer, depression, arthritis, hypertension and heart problems. Hair thinning is frequently triggered by hormonal changes. Although hundreds of products are available for treating hair loss, the effectiveness of only a few medications is supported by scientific studies and clinical trials.
Medications For Treating Hair Loss
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter hair loss medication. It is most effective in arresting excess hair fall in men and women below 40. However, Minoxidil could not treat baldness or permanent hair loss. It should be applied to the scalp twice a day. The solution should be applied according to the instruction on the package or as recommended by the doctor. Applying excess Minoxidil to the scalp will not trigger excess hair growth. Instead, it might cause adverse side effects such as flaking, scaling, itching, burning and dryness of the scalp. The drug works slowly. It usually takes about four to twelve months to notice any positive effect of the drug.
Minoxidil should be applied only to dry and irritation free scalp. Swelling of the hands, face, ankles and stomach, increase in heart rate, breathing difficulty, chest pain, dizziness and weight gain are rare side effects of Minoxidil. This hair loss drug primarily triggers hair growth on the crown. It is least effective in stimulating hair growth in the frontal area. Moreover, the Minoxidil solution needs to be applied continuously. You will lose most of the new hair within a few months after stopping the drug.
Dutasteride, a drug originally used for treating enlarged prostate, is often recommended for treating hair loss. Although, Dutasteride is primarily considered a hair loss medication for men, women suffering from androgenic hair loss or male patterned baldness may use this drug only if they are not pregnant or do not have any plan for conception. Dutasteride belongs to the class of drugs called 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. It prevents hair loss by preventing conversion of the male hormone testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT).
High levels of DHT stimulate male pattern baldness. Dutasteride capsules are extremely harmful for pregnant women. When absorbed through the skin, Dutasteride causes birth defects. Recent studies have found an association between Dutasteride use and higher risk of prostate cancer. People on Dutasteride should not donate blood. To become eligible for blood donation they should wait at least for six months after stopping Dutasteride use.
Just as Dutasteride, Finasteride is a drug of the 5-alpha reductase inhibitor family. It alleviates male pattern baldness by preventing DHT from binding to the hair follicles. This drug is primarily recommended for men.
However, women who are not pregnant or not planning conception can use this drug for treating androgenic hair loss. The side effects of Finasteride are same as that of Dutasteride. Poor sex drive and impotence are rare side effects of this drug.
Prostaglandin analogs, widely used for eyelash enhancement, can be used for promoting hair growth. Researchers speculate that by extending the anagen phase of hair growth, this drug helps to make the hair longer and thicker. Prostaglandin analogs are suitable for both men and women.