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Stay away from tightly bound styles, like braids, buns, or ponytails. Resist twisting or rubbing your hair. And gently wash or brush hair, switching to a wide-toothed comb if necessary to prevent too much pulling at the roots. Hot rollers, curling or straightening irons, hot oil treatments, bleaching, and other chemical processes are other things to avoid.
Many physicians recommend that patients engage in a combination therapy that includes minoxidil and Propecia (Est. $75 per 1-month supply) with prescription. Propecia is an oral medication with finasteride being the active ingredient. Finasteride was originally developed by Merck to treat enlarged prostate glands. Excess hair growth was a surprise side effect of the drug and led to the development of Propecia, which was approved by the FDA for treatment of male-pattern baldness in 1997. It has not been approved for women.
Why? Unwanted hair growth (sideburns, for example) is a reported side effect of minoxidil. The belief is that a higher concentration of minoxidil would result in more unwanted hair, which is why women are instructed to use it less often. However, the study in Skin Therapy Letter reports that unwanted hair was more common in 2 percent minoxidil solutions than 5 percent, and women are instructed to use Rogaine’s 2 percent solution twice daily — so what gives?
In either sex, hair loss from androgenetic alopecia occurs because of a genetically determined shortening of anagen, a hair's growing phase, and a lengthening of the time between the shedding of a hair and the start of a new anagen phase. (See "Life cycle of a hair.") That means it takes longer for hair to start growing back after it is shed in the course of the normal growth cycle. The hair follicle itself also changes, shrinking and producing a shorter, thinner hair shaft — a process called "follicular miniaturization." As a result, thicker, pigmented, longer-lived "terminal" hairs are replaced by shorter, thinner, non-pigmented hairs called "vellus."