FDA Approved Medications Used As Hair Loss Treatment
If you’ve noticed that your hair is thinning or falling out, you may be interested in seeking a hair loss treatment. Just like finding an effective medicine for your condition, finding the right treatment can take time and patience. Many people have used expensive medical hair restoration procedures before coming to terms with the idea that hair loss treatment methods don’t need to be invasive and expensive. If you’re frustrated by the lack of results from mainstream hair loss treatments and are ready to take control of your situation, keep reading to learn more about your options.
The most common form of hair loss for women is just the same as it’s for men — male pattern baldness. It is known as androgenic alopecia, which affects men (and sometimes women) differently than other people. Typically, hair loss starts above the forehead, and hair recedes gradually, often forming a thin “M” shaped pattern; hair loss also progresses downward, eventually thinning all the way to the back of the neck. Some forms of this condition may even recede to the toes.
One of the leading causes of androgenic alopecia is high levels of DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, which is found in large quantities in men and women. DHT is responsible for the thinning of hair because it attacks the follicles on your scalp. Minoxidil, a hair loss treatment containing 5% Minoxidil in a concentrated formula, has shown great results for people with this type of baldness, including those with androgenic alopecia. Minoxidil is FDA approved and carries a green safety symbol, making it safe. To date, Minoxidil is still the only FDA-approved topical medication that can be used to treat hair loss and is one of the most popular hair loss treatment options.
The second type of hair loss treatment — hair transplants — might be a little surprising, but it actually makes a lot of sense when you think about it. When your hair follicles are dead, they cannot produce hair. But by letting them continue to live and dividing, you can keep your hair. This is similar to how certain cancer cells, such as leukemia or lymphoma, survive after being removed. The only difference is, hair follicles don’t just fall out — they are replaced periodically. Therefore, hair transplantation can extend hair growth by surgically removing hair from areas where it is falling out.
There are many medications that people can take to treat balding and thinning hair, including medicines that are sold over-the-counter like Rogaine (trade name Elan). Rogaine works by inhibiting the production of DHT, the primary chemical in male hormones. However, there is a big problem with Rogaine. While it can prevent balding and thinning hair, it can also cause some unpleasant side effects, such as rashes, stomach upsets and even sexual problems in some men.
Another FDA approved medication for hair loss treatment that has recently gained FDA approval is Finasteride. Finasteride is only available by prescription, because it acts on the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. This means that men who suffer from androgenic alopecia (DHT buildup) should see their doctor first before taking finasteride. Another downside to finasteride is that it can cause sexual dysfunction in some men. Some research indicates that sexual dysfunctions may be linked to male pattern baldness or alopecia in men. Although finasteride is not approved by the FDA for treating baldness in men, it has become the first over-the-counter treatment approved for treating this type of hair loss.
One other FDA approved medication for hair loss and other common causes of alopecia is minoxidil (Rogaine). It is available both with a topical cream that you apply to your scalp and with a mouthwash that must be chewed on. The advantage to the mouthwash is that it helps get rid of DHT in the mouth and tongue, while the topical cream will help supply nutrients to hair follicles in the scalp. Unfortunately, although Rogaine has been proven to be effective in blocking DHT and improving hair growth, it has also been found to be ineffective in helping people who are only partially bald. For these people, another FDA approved medication called Propecia (finasteride) may be more suitable.
There are many different types of alopecia areata. In most cases, hair loss occurs when a person starts to experience hair loss as a result of one or more medical conditions. If you’re experiencing an unusual amount of shedding, see your doctor to find out if there may be a connection between your medical conditions and your loss of hair. For example, thyroid disorders can result in alopecia areata, while stress can make hair follicles weaken and trigger loss. To avoid losing your hair and to ensure that it always comes back, see your doctor regularly and ask about new treatments that may be available to you.