As we grow older, some of us may experience hair loss, or what is medically termed as alopecia. Well, there are those who even anticipate it to happen at some point, knowing that their problem is genetic. Yet, whether losing hair is a disease or a natural condition, it will always have a negative impact on our self-esteem, one way or the other. That is why researchers continue to conduct studies about hair biology and possibly, try to identify a specific treatment to prevent all the causes of hair loss.
These studies have led to the development of different types of hair loss treatments, everything from natural home remedies to medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But are all these FDA approved treatments really effective?
Minoxidil: Originally For The Heart
At the outset, minoxidil was developed as a vasodilating medication mainly to treat hypertension, until it was later on discovered to also trigger hair regrowth when used by both men and women. It’s currently available as an over-the-counter topical solution.
Pros and Cons
By far, it is the only FDA-approved hair loss treatment for women. It’s known not only to curtail the progression of hair loss, but it is also proven to effectively regrow healthy hair.
The solution now comes in different forms such as shampoos, foams, sprays, and droppers so that it can be used more conveniently.
However, it does cause minor side effects such as irritation of the treated area, itching, and potentially eye irritation. However, based on the results of a study on the impact of minoxidil on treating androgenetic alopecia, the majority of subjects did not show any sign of systemic effects pr side effects at all.
How Is It Used?
If you have been advised by your doctor to use this solution, then you must apply it as instructed. However, if you bought it directly from the drugstore, you’ll have to use it topically at least twice a day. You must use it on a regular basis to achieve results. Results are typically seen within 2-4 months.
Since Minoxidil now comes in many different forms such as liquids and foams, it also means that there are many different ways of using it. It is still best to check the label for complete and specific instructions.
Ketoconazole: Once A Fungi Fighter
Ketoconazole was initially developed to treat fungal infections. Eventually though, it was discovered to be potent against hair loss. It’s known to be an effective treatment of androgenic alopecia as it minimizes both scalp microflora and follicular inflammation.
Pros and Cons
A variety of ketaconazole shampoo brands can be seen in many pharmaceutical outlets. The treatment is effective and safe and is also known to have little to no side effects.
Studies show that ketoconazole can block the impact of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the scalp; therefore, it does not only stop hair shedding but it also results in healthier hair regrowth.
However, it must be noted that using this type of shampoo does not necessarily mean that your lost hair will be restored. It only means that it will prevent further hair loss and improve the health of the hair you already have.
How Is It Used?
Ketoconazole shampoos are applied in the same way as any regular shampoo. It is, however, advised, to let the shampoo rest on your scalp for approximately five minutes before rinsing. You also don’t have to use the shampoo daily, 2-3 times per week is enough.
Hair improvements only becomes noticeable after at least a few months time. Therefore, it is best to strictly repeat this process on a regular basis.
Spironolactone: Beneficial Side Effects
Was spironolactone specifically developed to combat alopecia? Well, once again hair regrowth was only initially considered a positive side effect. It was actually made to treat fluid build-up resulting from kidney disease, liver scarring, and heart failure. It is also known to treat acne, low potassium levels and high blood pressure.
Pros and Cons
Spironolactone is particularly effective in women experiencing hair loss due to hormonal imbalance. It serves as an anti-androgen drug – as you may have heard, high levels of androgens can cause hair loss.
This medication is affordable and can be safely taken together with other hair-thickening drugs such as Minoxidil. In fact, it is recommended to use several hair loss treatments at the same time to achieve better results.
Truth be told though, taking this drug also has disadvantages. When use in oral form as a tablet, it can lower your blood pressure and your potassium levels may increase. In addition to those, menstrual irregularities and increased urination could manifest. If you suffer many side effects, a topical use in the form of a cream might be preferred.
Spironolactone cannot be used orally in men, but there have been studies conducted regarding topical application of spironolactone, suggesting that such treatment has no negative effects.
How Is It Used?
If you’re a woman, you’ll likely be asked by your doctor to take 25mg twice a day. However, dosage may be increased depending on your hair condition. Be sure to consult your health care provider to confirm the ideal drug dosage for you.
Finasteride: Clearly Not Worth The Risk
Finasteride is popular among men as it is not only a very effective drug for hair loss – it also treats prostate enlargement. Similar to minoxidil, this medication is also FDA-approved and is said to work best if combined with Minoxidil. However, it is not an over-the-counter drug and can only be bought with a doctor’s prescription.
Pros and Cons
It is advantageous for adult men experiencing baldness in the middle of the scalp or at the crown. The drug is said to exert noticeable effects in a span of six months to one year as long as it is taken continuously. It works by systemically decreasing DHT levels which will also decrease DHT in the scalp, inhibiting the hair loss process.
However, this is one of the least recommended medications mainly due to its potential side effects. Funny enough, although it can be used to treat an enlarged prostate, it can also increase the risk for prostate cancer. Second, it can cause many sexual problems such as impotence and ejaculation disorders to occur, particularly during the first year of being on the medication. For some guys the side effects can be long-term, and continue even after you stop taking the drug. With all those downsides, it would really be hard to recommend this drug at all. We suggest you rather seek out natural DHT blockers that are both safe as well as effective.
How Is Finasteride Used?
Should you be recommended to take this drug, your doctor will most likely prescribe you to take one tablet (1mg) per day.
While your doctor is your most credible healthcare adviser, you are also advised to make a conscious effort to read the drug label and leaflet to know more about the drug, particularly its side effects. Either way, we do not recommend this drug.
So, which of these treatments are you most interested in?
If you want to try one of them but you’re still a bit hesitant, don’t be afraid to talk about it with others. It is likely you have people around you that know more about hair thickening products, or they know somebody who yse them. Hair loss is not uncommon. It is better to learn from their experiences, particularly those in the same situation you’re in. Continue to gather information and never give up.
Remember that no matter how damaging alopecia can be, and regardless of how complex its causes are, there’s always that one solution that can save your hair – as well as your self-esteem. On another note, remember that losing your hair is much better than for example losing an arm, so be happy with what you DO have, because some people are not so lucky! Life is about more than just hair.