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Hair loss treatment for ...

Medications are the most common treatment for female pattern hair loss. They include the following:


Minoxidil (Rogaine, generic versions). This drug was introduced as a treatment for high blood pressure, but people who took it noticed that they were growing hair in places where they had lost it. Research confirmed that a 2% solution of minoxidil applied directly to the scalp could stimulate hair growth. How it works is still not clear. Two double-blind studies of women ages 18 to 45 demonstrated its effectiveness. In one study, 13% of female minoxidil users had moderate hair growth, and 50%, minimal growth (compared with 6% and 33%, respectively, in the placebo group). In the second study, 60% of women in the minoxidil group reported new hair growth, compared with 40% in the placebo group. As a result of these studies and others, over-the-counter 2% minoxidil is FDA-approved for treating androgenetic alopecia in women.
Clearly, minoxidil is not a miracle drug. While it can produce some new growth of fine hair in some — not all — women, it can't restore the full density of the lost hair. It's not a quick fix, either. You won't see results until you use the drug for two months. The effect often peaks at around four months, but it could take longer, so plan on a trial of six to 12 months. If minoxidil works for you, you'll need to keep using it to maintain those results. If you stop, you'll start to lose hair again.
How to use minoxidil: Be sure that your hair and scalp are dry. Using the dropper or spray pump that's provided with the over-the-counter solution, apply it twice daily to every area where your hair is thinning. Gently massage it into the scalp with your fingers so it can reach the hair follicles. Then air-dry your hair, wash your hands thoroughly, and wash off any solution that has dripped onto your forehead or face. Don't shampoo for at least four hours afterwards.
Some women find that the minoxidil solution leaves a deposit that dries and irritates their scalp. This irritation, called contact dermatitis, is probably caused not by the minoxidil itself, but rather by the alcohol that is included to facilitate drying. A 5% solution (available only by prescription and approved only for men) is more effective than the 2% formulation and may be prescribed off-label for women. The 5% version comes in a foam, which appears to cause less irritation than the liquid.
Side effects and concerns: Minoxidil is safe, but it can have unpleasant side effects even apart from the alcohol-related skin irritation. Sometimes the new hair differs in color and texture from surrounding hair. Another risk is hypertrichosis — excessive hair growth in the wrong places, such as the cheeks or forehead. (This problem is more likely with the stronger 5% solution.) Because the patent on Rogaine (the brand-name version of minoxidil) has expired, many generic products are available. They all contain the same amount of minoxidil, but some include additional ingredients, such as herbal extracts, which might trigger allergic reactions.
Anti-androgens. Androgen receptor–blocking drugs such as spironolactone (Aldactone) and finasteride (Propecia) are not approved for the treatment of female pattern hair loss, and there is little reliable evidence that they are effective. However, some case studies suggest that women who don't respond to minoxidil may benefit from the addition of spironolactone. In the relatively uncommon cases where there is an excess of androgen, a clinician may prescribe 100 to 200 milligrams of an androgen receptor–blocking drug daily, together with an oral contraceptive for women of reproductive age. (A woman taking one of these drugs should not become pregnant because they can cause genital abnormalities in a male fetus.) Possible side effects include weight gain, loss of libido, depression, and fatigue.
Iron supplements. In some women, iron deficiency could be a cause of hair loss. Your clinician may test your iron level, particularly if you're a vegetarian, have a history of anemia, or have heavy menstrual bleeding. Iron supplements are recommended if a woman's iron level is less than 70 nanograms per milliliter. However, there's no reliable evidence that iron supplementation is helpful for female pattern hair loss.

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