Overview of Medicinal Hair Loss Treatment Options Available to You

It is usually medicinal pills and topicals that spring to most peoples’ minds as the options holding the greatest promise for treating hair loss. There are also other available options, such as surgical as well as non-surgical hair replacement, but to date only oral and topical medicinal treatments have been shown to reduce and reverse hair loss naturally. Hair transplantation, though providing the most satisfactory cosmetic results, does nothing to slow or reverse hair loss. Natural and herbal hair loss treatments seek to mimic medicinal treatments but their effectiveness in treating hair loss has never been confirmed in any serious clinical study and many of them are associated with hair scams.

The two medications that have been approved by the FDA (the US Food and Drug Administration) for treating hair loss are topical minoxidil (trade name Rogaine) and oral finasteride (Propecia). These two hair loss treatments have also been accepted as the only proven treatments in many other countries. Topical minoxidil is suitable for both sexes, whereas finasteride can only be prescribed to men. Minoxidil is a vasodilator, firstly used to treat high blood pressure, which was later found to stimulate hair growth when applied topically to the scalp.

Finasteride (Propecia) is an antiandrogen drug that was first applied to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), also known as prostate enlargement. It works by inhibiting conversion of the male hormone testosterone to didydrotestosterone (DHT). This metabolite (DHT) is held to be the main cause of BPH and hereditary forms of hair loss. The discovery of finasteride’s positive influence on hair growth led to finding the true cause of hereditary baldness, which are the harmful attacks of DHT on our hair follicles. Since making this discovery, a quest for other alternative DHT inhibitors has begun, especially amongst antiandrogen drugs and herbs that have, in the past, been used to treat urinary problems.

Dutasteride (trade name Avodart) is a drug with similar molecular structure to finasteride and was been studied extensively for treating hereditary baldness. It recently completed phase III clinical testing and results are pending. Dutasteride (Avodart) has been approved for treating BPH and is thus available in pharmacies in many countries around the world. Although it has not yet been approved for hair loss by any national health supervisory authority, it is being prescribed by some clinics and doctors in some countries to male hair loss patients who no longer respond to finasteride. Since it is freely available in pharmacies around the world you can easily buy generic Avodart online and often need no prescription. Dutasteride is held by many doctors and patients to be a more powerful hair loss drug than finasteride but also with more severe side effects.

Flutamide (Eulexin) is a very strong antiandrogen used to treat prostate cancer. It works by binding to the androgen receptors and thus competing with DHT. Oral use of flutamide can cause serious side effects but it is thought that topical applications might have less harmful side effects and could be, in the future, used to treat hereditary hair loss. More research is needed to verify such claims.

Spironolactone (trade name Aldactone) is another antiandrogen medication that works by binding to androgen receptors, competing with DHT. It is used to treat acne, hair loss and hirsutism (excess body hair) in women and although there are generic topical applications out there for treatment of male pattern baldness containing spironolactone, it has never been approved to treat hair loss in men and should better be avoided.

Aminexil, was developed by L’Oreal to treat thinning hair and its molecule is quite similar to that of minoxidil. Its mode of action is not exactly known and it is thought to be a weaker weapon in the fight against hereditary baldness than minoxidil.

This list of medicinal treatments for hair loss is not exhaustive. There are some other drugs that are thought to help treat hereditary baldness, such as superoxide dismutase, fluridil, ketoconazole, alfatradiol, etc. but none of them has ever been proven in any serious clinical trial to promote hair growth and further studies will be needed to evaluate their effects. Therefore, for the time being, minoxidil and finasteride remain the main weapons in the fight against genetically-determined hair loss conditions in male patients whereas a combination of minoxidil and spironolactone should be the best option for female hair loss patiets.