"This is an oral, prescription-only medication with the brand name Propecia that’s also FDA approved to treat hair loss," says Spencer. Male pattern hair loss occurs when a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) prevents hair follicles from getting the nutrients they need. Finasteride works by blocking the production of DHT, which protects the follicles.
Instead, you may want to add vitamin D (about $15) to your shopping cart. A vitamin D deficiency can exacerbate hair thinning and make it almost impossible for any over-the-counter product to reverse hair loss, says Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York City, who recommends taking 5,000 international units of D3 a day (and it’s generally beneficial for bone health in women over 40). “There’s also a link between low iron and zinc levels and temporary hair shedding, called [telogen] effluvium,” says Rogers.
Acupuncture is a form of Chinese medicine that has been practiced for thousands of years. Its applications are many, and some researchers believe that it may help with hair loss from alopecia areata. How? The needles inserted into the scalp may help stimulate hair follicles and promote regrowth. More research needs to be done in this area, but consider asking your doctor for a referral to a licensed acupuncturist if this treatment sounds appealing to you. (Learn more about acupuncture for hair loss.)
Minoxidil (Rogaine, generic versions). This drug was introduced as a treatment for high blood pressure, but people who took it noticed that they were growing hair in places where they had lost it. Research confirmed that a 2% solution of minoxidil applied directly to the scalp could stimulate hair growth. How it works is still not clear. Two double-blind studies of women ages 18 to 45 demonstrated its effectiveness. In one study, 13% of female minoxidil users had moderate hair growth, and 50%, minimal growth (compared with 6% and 33%, respectively, in the placebo group). In the second study, 60% of women in the minoxidil group reported new hair growth, compared with 40% in the placebo group. As a result of these studies and others, over-the-counter 2% minoxidil is FDA-approved for treating androgenetic alopecia in women.
George Cotserelis, MD, is director of the University of Pennsylvania's Hair and Scalp Clinic. He agrees that there's no evidence these alternative hair loss treatments have any effect. "If any of it did work," he says, "I'd be very worried about using that product. The fact that it’s working would mean it's doing something to the testosterone and could be having adverse effects."
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.
Help hair loss and regrow fuller hair with Women's Rogaine 2% Minoxidil Topical Solution. Ideal for use at the early stages of hair thinning, this fast-working hair loss treatment is specially formulated for women and is clinically proven to regrow up to 25% more hair. Unlike hair loss shampoos and hair thickening products that temporarily plump hair from the outside, Rogaine penetrates the scalp to reactivate shrunken hair follicles. The 2% Minoxidil formula works to boost hair follicle activity and hair protein production, allowing for regrowth of hair. This women’s hair regrowth treatment comes in a topical solution that is easy to use: Simply apply 1 milliliter directly to your scalp twice daily and massage it through your hair. And like all Rogaine products, this thinning hair treatment is designed to fit easily into your daily beauty regimen.
Minoxidil (Rogaine). This is an over-the-counter (nonprescription) medication approved for men and women. It comes as a liquid or foam that you rub into your scalp daily. Wash your hands after application. At first it may cause you to shed hair as hair follicles. New hair may be shorter and thinner than previous hair. At least six months of treatment is required to prevent further hair loss and to start hair regrowth. You need to keep applying the medication to retain benefits.
2. High-tech regrowth therapies. Laser treatments ($200 and up) expose hair to low levels of laser light, which boosts hair growth by increasing the amount of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in hair follicles. ATP provides energy to hair-follicle cells, so the more of it that’s around, the more energy hair follicles can use to grow your hair. Sadick says three months of weekly sessions are best when you’re kick-starting a hair-loss treatment.
Taking hair supplements can be helpful for anyone who is experiencing hair loss or hair thinning. Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City, previously recommended Nutrafol, a research-backed hair supplement, to Prevention. "This uses highly concentrated botanicals to address every stage of the growth cycle," she says. Nutrafol's hair supplements include vitamin E and ashwagandha (an adaptogen that helps balance cortisol levels in the body), among others.
I have to say I was skeptical about seeing any results with this product. After my last baby I had a lot of thinning in my crown area. Since using this product as recommended two times a day, I have honestly seen so much baby hair come out, that I am genuinely excited to keep buying and using this product. I have also increased my daily vitamins including biotin, Hair Skin and Nails & fish oil, but I think with this product combined, it has made a real difference!
“We’ve all heard the old wives’ tale that a guy’s hair is based on their mother’s father. That’s sort of true, but it’s not,” said primary care physician Dr. John Hong. “It’s really the total number of guys in your family that have male pattern baldness that will affect your risk, particularly your dad. If your dad is bald, you’re more likely to be bald.”
Spironolactone, brand name Aldactone, is in a class of drugs called potassium-sparing diuretics (often called water pills). Spironolactone is typically used to reduce fluid in your body without causing the loss of potassium. It is also used to treat potassium deficiency, high blood pressure (hypertension), swelling (edema), and a hormonal disorder called hyperaldosteronism.
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Thank you. This has been the most helpful article I have read! Very much appreciated! Last question (I won’t bug you with anymore after this) . . . I was tested by my doctor and came out perfectly healthy so it is either stress or MPB. My job is extremely stressful so it could be that but I have no way or knowing for sure. As such, do you think there is any harm on me taking finasteride even if it isn’t MPB and is just stress? I suppose if the medicine didn’t work, I would know it was stress and not MPB. Also, I assume this is something I would continue to take for life right?
During a hair transplant procedure, a dermatologist or cosmetic surgeon removes tiny patches of skin, each containing one to several hairs, from the back or side of your scalp. Sometimes a larger strip of skin containing multiple hair groupings is taken. He or she then implants the hair follicle by follicle into the bald sections. Some doctors recommend using minoxidil after the transplant, to help minimize hair loss. And you may need more than one surgery to get the effect you want. Hereditary hair loss will eventually progress despite surgery.