Several people, all over the world, are struggling with hair loss and while in many cases, the loss is minimal, there are cases, where people have gone completely bald. However, no matter how extensive the hair loss, it always starts with a few extra hair on the comb or towel. For people, who notice the signs, hair loss need not cross that boundary where it enters the stage of balding.
If you are someone who is noticing the first signs of severe hair loss, then it would be best that you head to a hair specialist immediately. Because many a times, when the hair loss has just started, tackling it is much easier and in most cases, only medication is sufficient. As a matter of fact, there are plenty of hair restoration medicines that can not only reduce hair loss, but also stop it altogether.
However, choosing the hair restoration medicine is a different science altogether and should not be done without professional opinion. Knowing a little more in detail about these medicines, is of course something anyone can do.
Firstly, you need to understand that simply because an infomercial talks at great lengths about how effective a hair restoration medicine is, does not mean that it will be right for you too. You need to meet a hair specialist first, who will conduct a thorough examination of your hair and advice you not only on the extent of hair loss, but also the specific type. This will also allow them to prescribe the right medication for you.
The first standard for any medication, hair restoration or others, happens to be an approval from FDA and specially USFDA. So, if the medicine has been approved by your local FDA or the USFDA, then you can be a little surer about the same. The approval indicates that several stringent tests and checks have been conducted on the medication and the efficacy of the same has been proven in several clinical trials. This actually dwindles down the choice, because there are only three main medications that have been approved by the USFDA and are known to show genuine results.
These three medications are Minoxidil, Finasteride and Dutasteride, although the brand names might vary, in accordance with the company manufacturing the same. So, while Minoxidil is a topical agent, Finasteride has to be taken orally and both of these are prescribed only for men. Dutasteride has been approved in countries other than the United States of America as well, although its status with FDA is still in the unclear.
Now, let’s start by looking at the brands in detail:
Popular brand name – Rogaine
Administration – The medication is applied to the scalp in a foam or liquid form. The medication is offered in 2 as well as 5% and 10% concentration. Men will be asked to use it twice a day. Women are normally prescribed the foam formulation and that can be used once in a day.
Availability – The medication is over the counter and is easy to source. You can look for it at your local pharmacy or ask your pharmacist.
How it works – The actual process of Minoxidil is still not understood properly, but the basic tenet is that it dilates the blood vessels and helps lower blood pressure. However, if it is the reduced blood pressure or dilated blood vessels that assist with the hair growth is yet to be determined conclusively.
Effectiveness – Studies have shown that Minoxidil does provide a barrier for hair loss and it also promotes the growth of new hair. The 5% formulation has proven to be more effective than the 2% one. However, it has been noticed that once the medication has been stopped, the results start to fade away. In addition, the medication is more effective when it is applied to a specific area of balding, as opposed to the entire head.
Sideeffects – The most common side effect is itchy scalp, but there can also be hair shedding in the first few weeks of usage. Even if the medication is not applied to the face, there could be growth of facial hair. Since the chemical composition is one that dilates the blood vessels, many people have complained about dropping blood pressure.
Popular brand name - Propecia
Administration – Finasteride is often in a pill form, which means that it has to be taken orally. The dosage is generally a 1 milligram tablet. The same medication, under the brand name Proscar and with a 5 milligram dosage is used to treat prostrate enlargement.
Availability – This is a medication that has to be prescribed by a doctor and will not be provided over the counter.
How it works – The manner in which Finasteride works is that it inhibits the activity of the Type II 5 alpha reductase. This is actually an enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, which is known to damage hair follicles. The hair follicles are rendered smaller and eventually inactive, leading to baldness.
Effectiveness – There have been several studies about the effectiveness of Finasteride and most of them have been positive. Continuous use of the medication is known as to not only reduce hair loss, but also stimulate hair regrowth. However, as is the case with most such medicines, it has to be used constantly for the effects to be visible and stopping the same could lead to a decline in the results too.
Sideeffects – Finasteride has to be taken with a prescription and is not suitable for pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant. The medicine can lead to the abnormal formation of the foetus. Men have reportedly noticed a decrease in their libido as well as erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. There have also been cases with gynecomastia and depression.
Popular brand name - Avodart
Administration – This medicine is yet again meant to be taken in the oral form, which is why it is offered in a 0.5 milligram capsule. This medicine has been approved by the USFDA for the treatment of hair loss.
Availability – Dutasteride can be gained only via prescription and also finds use to treat prostate enlargement. There are still certain countries, where the medicine has not been approved or sanctioned for treatment of hair loss, which is why you will have to talk to your doctor first.
How it works – Dutasteride works in a manner that is similar to Finasteride, as in it inhibits the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone. However, Dutasteride inhibits both type I as well as type II of the 5 alpha reductase.
Effectiveness – The medication has proven effective in treating pattern hair loss, particularly in men.
Sideeffects – Yet again, this is not a medication meant for pregnant women or women trying to get pregnant. In men, there could be an descreased libido, erectile dysfunction, enlargement of the male breast and depression.