What Medications Treat Hair Loss?
Your doctor will need to determine what the cause of your hair loss is. If hair loss is caused by iron deficiency or thyroid insufficiency, treatment of the underlying condition is the best way to stop the hair loss. There are a number of systemic causes of hair loss including stress, shock loss or new medications. For most people, the pattern of hair loss is the biggest indicator of the cause.
If it looks like male pattern baldness, it probably is. Androgenic alopecia tends to have identifiable and reproducible patterns. In cases of androgenic alopecia, the Food and Drug Administration approved two medications for treatment: Rogaine and Propecia.
What Is Minoxidil (Rogaine)?
Originally Minoxidil was a medicine used to treat high blood pressure. In a fortunate coincidence, many men taking this oral medication started growing hair on their scalp. It was later demonstrated that applying Minoxidil topically could also stimulate hair growth.
Minoxidil is an over-the-counter drug and can be found in many pharmacies in the shampoo aisle. Unlike Propecia, Rogaine can be used by both men and women. Rogaine was more effective in stopping hair loss in the crown and vertex than in the temples. Rogaine takes longer than Propecia to create a noticeable effect and most people require at least four months of use before noticing a difference. Rogaine requires daily usage to retain benefits.
What Are The Side Effects of Rogaine?
All medicines have risks of side effects or unwanted outcomes. The most common side effect of topical Minoxidil is scalp irritation and can also be unwanted hair growth on the adjacent skin of the face (forehead and periorbital areas). There may also be changes to the heart rhythm and blood pressure. For most patients, topical Minoxidil does not cause systemic side effects.
Minoxidil is available in generic form and under the brand name Rogaine. The 2% shampoo is available for both men and women. The stronger 5% is recommended only for use in men. Minoxidil is more effective in stopping hair loss in men than it is in women.