Medical Management of Hair Loss
Hair loss for men and women does not have to be permanent, as there are several treatment options available. Many individuals are not interested in a surgical procedure to treat their hair loss, so they turn to topical and oral medications. Both Propecia (Finasteride) and Rogaine (minoxidil) have been proven to help stimulate the growth of hair and help combat male pattern baldness. In addition to these medications, women tend to find low-level laser therapy to be very effective.
Let’s look at these treatment options and see what they can offer you.
What Is Male-Pattern Baldness?
Androgenetic Alopecia, also known as male-pattern baldness is the most common form of hair loss in men. Studies have shown that about a quarter of men who have androgenetic alopecia will begin losing their hair during their teenage years before they turn 21.
Male pattern baldness occurs because of a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) which genetically makes the hair weak and eventually causinghair loss and thinning. Typically affecting hair follicles in the front, top and crown of the scalp.
How Can Propecia (Finasteride) Help?
Finasteride is the generic name for Propecia or Proscar. It is the only FDA approved oral medication that can help treat male pattern baldness. This medication works by blocking 5-alpha reductase, which is an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.
Finasteride will help create a significant drop in DHT, both in the blood and scalp. Finasteride is prescribed as a 1 mg per day pill and works to decrease serum DHT levels up to 70% and testosterone levels are raised by about 10%. This is calculated on an average normal range, so results could vary by individual cases.
Studies have shown that 90% of men who take finasteride either experience new hair growth or a complete halt in hair loss.
Side Effects of Finasteride
With a dose of 1 mg, side effects are uncommon. If side effects do occur, they are reversible. In a study where one group of men took finasteride for one year, there were about 1.5% who experienced drug-related side effects when compared to a control group.
Findings of these side effects included:
- One Year Side Effects: 3.8% of men taking finasteride 1mg experienced some form of sexual dysfunction versus 2.1% in men treated with a placebo.
- Five-year side effects: decreased libido (0.3%), erectile dysfunction (0.3%), and decreased volume of ejaculate (0.0%).
Issues with sexual dysfunction occurred shortly after starting finasteride. However, there have also been reports of sexual dysfunction occurring later on during treatment. For those who discontinued therapy, sexual side effects were resolved. 58% of men who continued on with treatment also saw a resolution in these sexual side effects. Overall, once treatment is stopped, all side effects should gradually disappear within a few weeks.
How Can Rogaine (Minoxidil) Help?
Rogaine, also known as Minoxidil was the first FDA approved medication to treat hair loss. It is a topical solution that can be applied directly to the scalp. Rogaine is available over the counter without a prescription.
There are two different formulations, which include 5% concentrate for men and 2% concentrate for women. Early studies were conducted using the crown, which led to misconceptions that this medication only worked in this area.
Rogain is known to work best in the crown area, it also helps lessen hair loss in the front of the scalp when miniaturized hair is present. This medication is not effective in treating areas that are completely bald.
Best results were seen between 5 months to 2 years of using Rogain, with a decline in effectiveness after that. Hair loss will still occur when using this medication but happens at a slower rate.
What is Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)?
During LLLT treatment cool lasers will be used to help stimulate hair growth and decrease hair loss. This treatment is based on the scientific principle of photo-biotherapy. The laser light is a visible red-light spectrum and is generated in a laser diode. The red laser light has a very low absorption rate when used on human tissue, which makes it an effective and safe treatment for hair loss.
Visit Newport Hair Clinic for more information.