Medications For Hair Loss

FINASTERIDE (Propecia or Proscar)

Finasteride (also known as Propecia or Proscar) is taken orally in tablet form. It was originally and still is used mainly for the treatment of enlarged prostate glands under the name of Proscar. The mechanism by which Finasteride works on the prostrate is the blockage of the conversion of the male hormone testosterone to another hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It performs this task by acting against an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase. It was observed that a side effect of the drug is the slowing down of hair loss and in some cases re-growth of hair. This side effect happens because one of the causes of male pattern baldness is DHT. The version this drug marketed for hair loss is called Propecia.

The most up to date research on Finasteride shows that there is an eighty three percent (83%) possibility of slowing down or even stopping the process of hair loss in cases of male pattern baldness. They also show that there is a 30% chance of re-growing hair significantly from a cosmetic point of view. Results from using Finasteride should begin to be apparent after around 3 or 4 months of use. Only one side effect has come to light from this research and that is a 1 in 200 chance (0.5%) of impotence or decreased libido. Sexual function should return to normal after stopping use of the drug. Sexual function also went back to normal in 60% of those who got the side effects but did not stop the medication. Any benefit gained by using Finasteride, will be lost within a few months of stopping the drug.

Finasteride is not suitable for women. Women of child bearing potential should not take or handle broken tablets. A possible rare complication is genital deformities in the newborn if the mother is exposed to Finasteride through contact with broken tablets during pregnancy.

MINOXIDIL (Regaine)

Minoxidil is a medication that has had long term testing in the treatment for hair loss. The drug was originally developed to treat high blood pressure and a side effect of causing hair growth was discovered. We do not know how minoxidil works to cause hair growth, but we do know that in a small percentage of men and women terminal hair will re-grow. Of greater significance is the fact that the rate of hair loss appears to slow down. In fact the latest research shows that there is an eighty percent (80%) possibility of slowing down or even stopping the process of hair loss in men and women.

Minoxidil is supplied as a lotion that must be applied twice daily to the scalp. The drug has been found to be free of side effects apart from the occasional allergic reaction or skin dryness. Commercially, known as Regaine, it is available as 2% and 5% concentrations.

The greatest benefit of minoxidil is in reducing the rate of hair loss and is therefore of greatest use in early stages of hair loss.