"I recommend that everyone [with any hair loss] take finasteride," says Robert M. Bernstein, MD. Bernstein is associate clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia University and founder of the Bernstein Medical Center for Hair Restoration. "To patients who are younger,” he says, “I also recommend minoxidil. But the mainstay is finasteride. The data show that, over five years, it significantly retards hair loss in 85% of users."
The comment about Dutasteride causing more side effects is not correct. All studies performed to this date actually sight that Dutasteride has lower side effects. Especially in regards to decreases in sex drive. The only time Dutasteride has been shown to have greater side effects is when the dosage of Finasteride was well below the recommended dosage of 1mg. In comparison 500mcg of Dutasteride has been shown to be more effective than 2.5mg of Finasteride and 1mg has shown to be more effective than 5mg of Finasteride, the dose used to treat BPH. The research has clearly shown that Dutasteride reduces serum DHT levels much faster and has much higher success rates.
Studies show that Propecia is effective for 86 percent of men who use it, but doctors interviewed by USA Today say that "anyone who expects miracles will be disappointed." They explain: Only about one-third of men in the early stages of hair loss will regrow some with Propecia. These doctors say that it "primarily slow(s) down hair loss and improve(s) hair quality." As reported at HairLossHelp.com, a five-year study published in 2001 found that Propecia continued to prevent hair loss but there was a "progressive decrease in the amount of hair grown over the five-year period." Experts say that it is effective at growing back more hair than minoxidil (Rogaine) but that it can take up to a year to see results.
"I recently started using your hair growth products, and now there is no looking back. My hair has always been really thin and fine and growth around the hairline at the temples has been poor. It almost looked like my hairline was receding. I didn't like putting my hair up as I looked like I was going bald. But, not any more. My hair feels thicker, and growth is improving at the temple area. My hair would never grow beyond my shoulders, that's going to be the next test, how long will it grow!! Thank you, after years of irritation with my fine hair things are looking up."
That said, there are products that don’t have FDA approval or clearance, but may help prevent hair loss. For example, shampoos with ketoconazole, a chemical with anti-DHT properties, is widely used to treat fungal infections but has become popular among consumers as a hair loss treatment. It makes sense — research shows that ketoconazole actually has beneficial effects on hair growth (especially for those with seborrheic dermatitis).
While biotin is a type of vitamin that plays a functional role in hair growth, there are other vitamins that can help improve the overall health of your hair. Vitamin E is one such key vitamin that acts as an antioxidant and helps to reduce the oxidative stress on your scalp. This greatly affects hair growth, and this was proven by a study published in the Tropical Life Sciences Research journal (2). Another vitamin that is useful is vitamin C. It removes the dead cells build-up from the scalp and unclogs the hair follicles. This can improve hair growth as well (3). Vitamin C tablets can be added to a carrier oil and used to massage the scalp. Internal supplements of both these vitamins also help.
In-office laser light treatments or at-home handheld devices, such as the HairMax LaserComb, supposedly grow new hair by stimulating blood flow to the area (think: an amped-up version of a scalp-stimulating shampoo). Just don’t expect the device to make your noggin go from looking like George Costanza’s to Jerry Seinfeld’s. “These lasers won’t grow any new hair. If anything, they may just help you hang on to some of the hair that you already have a bit longer,” says Dr. Joyce.
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.
To give yourself a hot oil treatment, massage the oil into your scalp, then apply it all the way to the ends of your strands. Pile your hair on top of your head, cover it with a shower cap, then blast your strands with a blow-dryer for 15 minutes. Feel free to jump in the shower and shampoo and condition as usual—you’ll notice softer strands instantly.
Dr. Melissa Piliang, a dermatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, said that Rogaine works better on the top and crown (for reasons not fully understood, the frontal hairline tends to be more resistant to treatment) and ideally should be started as soon as women notice thinning. “Any regrowth you get is a minimal amount,” Dr. Piliang said. “So the more density when you start, the better results you get.”
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.)