When it comes to prescriptions, Propecia (finasteride) stands as the strongest oral option for treating balding. If used consistently, this hair-loss treatment stops the progression of pattern hair loss, caused by genetics, for most users -- no messy application necessary. Although the drug has yet to earn FDA approval for treatment of women, recent studies have shown that it is both safe and effective for female users. See our full review »
Hair loss is more common than you think and it can happen to anyone. According to Michele J Farber, MD of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC, causes range from, “androgenetic or hormone-related hair loss, stress related-hair loss, also called telogen effluvium, and dandruff. Medications, vitamin deficiencies, thyroid disorders, excess styling, and autoimmune disorders can also cause hair loss and thinning.” But the good news is, there are viable solutions, starting with topical growth treatments.
in clinical studies of mostly white women aged 18-45 years with mild to moderate degrees of hair loss, the following response to minoxidil topical solution 2% was reported: 19% of women reported moderate hair regrowth after using minoxidil topical solution 2% for 8 months (19% had moderate regrowth; 40% had minimal regrowth). This compares with 7% of women reporting moderate hair regrowth after using the placebo, the liquid without minoxidil in it, for 8 months (7% had moderate regrowth; 33% had minimal regrowth).
During this procedure, surgeons remove a narrow strip of scalp and divide it into hundreds of tiny grafts, each containing just a few hairs. Each graft is planted in a slit in the scalp created by a blade or needle in the area of missing hair. Hair grows naturally this way, in small clusters of one to four follicles, called follicular units. As a result, the graft looks better than the larger "plugs" associated with hair transplants of yesteryear.
Various essential oils can be added to carrier oils like coconut oil, almond oil, and olive oil to promote hair growth. Some of the best essential oils for this purpose are peppermint oil, tea tree oil, black seed oil, neem oil, pumpkin seed oil, grapeseed oil, avocado oil, eucalyptus oil, walnut oil, lemongrass oil, and onion oil. Essential oils are full of antioxidants and also contain pore cleansing agents – both these properties can improve hair growth.
Physicians are reluctant to prescribe systemic treatments (pills or other form of treatment that affects your entire system) because they can tamper with your body's own androgen levels (see Causes for an explanation of androgens). The doctor will first want to confirm that the hair loss is due to an excess of androgen (another name for male hormones) in the system or a sensitized "over-response" to normal amounts of androgen. Therefore, physicians often choose topical treatments, which are applied directly to the scalp.
The big three are still the best anti-hair loss regime for most men who just started losing their hair. They are safe, inexpensive, take little time to apply, and best of all, they work. However, If your hair is beyond the Norwood 3 scale, you might want to be looking into other solutions, like a hair transplant. The big three are much more effective at keeping your hair, not regrowing it.
Topical treatments like Rogaine use the active ingredient minoxidil -- originally used to treat high blood pressure. After researchers discovered that it also promoted hair growth, it was the first drug approved by the FDA to treat male pattern baldness. It is used topically on the scalp, and the success of treatment is dependent on the user's extent of hair loss. Researchers at the AHLA find its efficacy to be marginal in the long run since it has no effect on the hormonal process.
A clinician diagnoses female pattern hair loss by taking a medical history and examining the scalp. She or he will observe the pattern of hair loss, check for signs of inflammation or infection, and possibly order blood tests to investigate other possible causes of hair loss, including hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, and iron deficiency. Unless there are signs of excess androgen activity (such as menstrual irregularities, acne, and unwanted hair growth), a hormonal evaluation is usually unnecessary.
There are many potential causes of hair loss, including medical conditions, medications, and physical or emotional stress. If you notice unusual hair loss of any kind, it's important to see your primary care provider or a dermatologist, to determine the cause and appropriate treatment. You may also want to ask your clinician for a referral to a therapist or support group to address emotional difficulties. Hair loss can be frustrating, but recent years have seen an increase in resources for coping with the problem.
3. Surgical hair replacement. If you opt for hair transplantation (which runs $5,000 and up), your dermatologist or hair-replacement surgeon will remove single hair follicles from the back of the head, near the nape of the neck, where your hair is fullest. Once those follicles are harvested, they are then dissected and reimplanted into an area of the scalp where hair is thinning. The procedure takes anywhere from three to six hours, and newly implanted hair will usually begin to grow on its own 3 to 12 months after the treatment session. Traditionally, hair transplantation required removal of an entire strip of scalp, Sadick says, but this new follicle-by-follicle technique looks more natural when it heals and allows patients to get heads of hair as dense-looking as before they started losing it.
Cyproterone acetate is not available in the U.S. Doctors consider it one of the last resorts for treating female pattern hair loss because of its possible toxicity and long-term side effects. As with any drug, side effects other than those listed on the package may occur. Contact your doctor if you notice a side effect that is unusual or particularly bothersome.
The other main hair-loss treatment that was recommended by all four dermatologists I interviewed is finasteride, often called by its brand name Propecia. This FDA-approved medication is only available with a prescription, but these days, it’s found as a generic and ordered online after a virtual consultation, through start-ups like Hims, Keeps, and Lemonaid.