There are several different types of medication you can buy to help treat hair loss. Procepia and Finasteride are currently the only approved drugs you can take that will effectively treat hair loss. The active ingredient in both treatments (finasteride) works by blocking DHT (the male hormone dihydrotestosterone) that causes hair loss by shrinking hair follicles on your scalp. It has been proven to lead to hair regrowth or to stop hair loss in around 9 out of 10 men in clinical trials.
Minoxidil was the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of male pattern baldness. For many years, minoxidil, in pill form (brand name Loniten), was widely used to treat high blood pressure. Just like finasteride, researchers discovered a very interesting side effect of the drug. People taking the medication were growing hair in unexpected places, such as on their cheeks and the back of their hands. Some people grew hair on their foreheads.
Men may also experience some sexual and emotional side effects while taking it: In a study published in the June 2011 issue of The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Michael Irwig of George Washington University found as many as 92 percent of test subjects reporting problems in the bedroom. The study also reported that “the mean duration of finasteride use was 28 months and the mean duration of persistent sexual side effects was 40 months,” meaning that side effects lingered long after subjects stopped taking the pill.
For example, if your hair is thinning because you’ve recently started a new medication or a diet, your approach might be to take an oral supplement or use a laser light device. But if you have hair loss from psoriasis or chemical treatments, you might try a new shampoo and invest in a moisturizing scalp treatment. Throwing everything possible at the problem might not be the most effective method.
However, ketoconazole is still not FDA approved for hair loss treatment, which means it cannot be endorsed or marketed as such. Put simply, ketoconazole likely curbs hair loss, but additional research is needed for the FDA to give it approval. While it is safe to use as a supplement to our top picks, we wanted to recommend products with as much scientific backing as possible. So, we stuck with FDA approved minoxidil or FDA cleared laser treatments. But we’ll keep a close eye on products like ketoconazole shampoos and update as new research appears.
"Castor oil will not grow hair," says cosmetic chemist and author Perry Romanowski matter-of-factly. "There is no evidence for it and no scientific theory supporting that it would work, so yes, it's a total myth." In better news, he says that castor oil is not damaging to the hair and can provide some conditioning that improves the flexibility of the hair fiber.
The main type of hair loss in both sexes — and the subject of this article — is androgenetic alopecia, or female (or male) pattern hair loss. In men, hair loss usually begins above the temples, and the receding hairline eventually forms a characteristic "M" shape; hair at the top of the head also thins, often progressing to baldness. In women, androgenetic alopecia begins with gradual thinning at the part line, followed by increasing diffuse hair loss radiating from the top of the head. A woman's hairline rarely recedes, and women rarely become bald.
According to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine, hair health is tied to two things: kidney energy and the blood, which nourish the hair. The solution: acupuncture and Chinese herbs. While there isn't a lot of hard science to back this up, Maureen Conant, a TCM practitioner at Full Bloom Acupuncture in Seattle, says that she's seen women's hair stop falling out and then gradually regenerate after a few months of weekly treatments.
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