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Hair Loss Treatments

Figuring out the right hair loss treatment option for your needs can be overwhelming. Finasteride, minoxidil, ketoconazole… it’s hard to pronounce these names, much less work out what they do.

Take a step back. In order to pick the best treatment for your needs, you need to know why you’re losing hair. Hair loss remedies vary. The treatment for one type of hair loss might not work for another.

One size doesn’t fit all

There are a myriad of different hair loss treatments. According to a study in the Drugs Journal, finasteride and minoxidil are some of the most popular products to make hair grow and are highly effective in helping people tackle their hair loss. However, many other treatment options are also available.

Hair transplants, micropigmentation, low-level laser therapy, platelet-rich plasma injections, and scalp microneedling are all potential treatments you can pursue if you have androgenetic alopecia. Not all of these are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as treatment options, though.

Although it’s great to have options, you should be aware that different conditions have different treatment strategies. Finding out the reason behind your hair loss is crucial to identifying the hair loss remedy that’s right for you.

Hair loss remedies for androgenic alopecia

Androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as male pattern hair loss, is a condition with a genetic and hormonal component. This type of hair loss causes your hair follicles to shrink, resulting in thinning hair. Without treatment, you’ll eventually experience hair loss around your temples and crown.

A white bottle with gold trim around the cap, on a white slab against a pale background

Minoxidil is a solution that acts as a vasodilator and needs to be applied directly onto the scalp

Minoxidil

Minoxidil is one of the most popular treatment options available. It’s FDA-approved as 2 and 5 percent topical solutions and foaming products, all of which can be used for hair loss.

The study in the Drugs Journal says that it isn’t completely known how this medication is able to stimulate hair growth. However, on a systemic level, minoxidil acts as a vasodilator. This means that, for hair, it might work by increasing blood flow to the scalp. It might also promote the release of hair-related growth factors, regulate hormones, and reduce inflammation.

The tip of a silver microneedling device

Modern-day microneedling is used for both dermatological purposes and hair loss

Microneedling

Microneedling may have originated from traditional Chinese medicine, which uses similar techniques to treat dermatological conditions. Modern microneedling treatments for hair loss, however, have only been around since 2012. This scalp treatment is thought to help activate hair follicle stem cells. It might also promote hair-related gene expression and the release of hair-related growth factors.

This therapy is a new but promising hair loss treatment. The Drugs Journal study says that treatment standards for microneedling are still being determined in order to understand how it can best be used to improve hair growth.

A white bottle on its side with various round, blue pills coming out of it

Finasteride is only available by prescription

Finasteride

Finasteride is a drug that can decrease the amount of testosterone that’s converted to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is the hormone that’s considered to be partially responsible for male pattern hair loss. This FDA-approved drug is one of the most popular hair loss therapies on the market.

There’s a major downside, though: Finasteride treatment must be life-long. The Drugs Journal study reported that this can be an issue due to its serious sexual side effects, like erectile dysfunction. These side effects may become more likely as people get older.

A man squirting white cream onto his finger tip

Ketoconazole is an anti-dandruff product that may also be able to treat hair loss 

Ketoconazole

Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal with anti-androgenic properties. According to a study in Biomedical Dermatology, it may be potentially useful in treating androgenetic alopecia.

This study found that ketoconazole produces similar results to minoxidil. It took longer to work (6 months vs. 4 months, respectively), but had fewer side effects.

Ketoconazole is an FDA-approved medication, but this product hasn’t been approved as a hair loss product yet. Your doctor is unlikely to recommend that you use this product unless you need it for a skin-related problem, like dandruff.

A woman using a LLLT hairbrush on a person's hair

LLLT may be able to increase the number of hair follicles in your scalp

Low-level laser therapy

Scientists don’t completely understand how low-level laser therapy (LLLT) works. The Lasers in Medical Science Journal says that this hair treatment might work by increasing the number of hair follicles, improving hair strength, reducing inflammation or prolonging the duration of the anagen (growth) hair cycle phase.

This is a fairly new hair loss treatment, but several FDA-approved devices are already on the market. Although this treatment is safe and effective for male pattern hair loss, meta-analysis published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology reported that it works slightly less well than finasteride.

A close up of a man holding an orange capsule to his mouth

The right nutrient supplement can help promote healthy hair growth

Supplements

According to the Dermatology Practical and Conceptual journal, inadequate nutrient consumption can impact hair growth. Lack of certain nutrients, like B-complex vitamins and zinc, have the potential to aggravate hair loss symptoms. Similarly, excessive consumption of other nutrients, like vitamin A and selenium, may actually worsen hair loss.

Talk to your doctor or dietitian if you think your diet has been contributing to your hair loss. They can help you determine which nutrients you’re not consuming in appropriate amounts. In some cases, they might recommend a supplement to help counteract your hair loss.

A surgeon administering a hair loss transplant to a man in a clinic

FUE and FUT are the two most common surgical hair loss treatments available

Surgical options

Hair restoration surgery comes in two main forms: follicular unit extraction (FUE) and follicular unit transplantation (FUT). FUE can be done follicle by follicle with a device, while FUT is a more invasive surgical procedure.   

According to a study in the Dermatologic Surgery journal, both of these are good hair restoration surgery techniques. Many people wish to avoid costly surgical options, though, and consequently prefer the less-invasive FUE or other treatments when possible.

Black, gloved hands applying micropigmentation to a man's scalp

Micropigmentation and microblading are popular cosmetic treatments for hair loss

Cosmetic and aesthetic options

Some people — especially those who are recovering from a temporary form of hair loss — prefer cosmetic or aesthetic approaches to their hair loss. These can include a range of products, from wigs to volumizing powders. 

Other approaches to hair loss are simpler. Take Donald Trump’s famous combover, for instance. In contrast, other people may take a more permanent approach, opting for skin tattooing or micropigmentation to make it look like their hair is still present. Micropigmentation can be particularly useful for people who suffer from full-body alopecia areata as it can help them fill in specific spots or patchy eyebrows.

White containers of different shapes and sizes alongside ferns

Combination treatments are often the most successful way to tackle hair loss

Combination treatments

There are a variety of different combination therapy strategies. These hair loss treatments have often shown some of the best success rates in managing and counteracting male pattern hair loss.

For example, a Dermatologic Clinics study said that combining finasteride and ketoconazole or minoxidil can help improve hair regrowth. These treatments can even be combined with hair restoration surgeries by applying them both before and after the procedure. Similarly, a study in the Journal of Cutaneous and Aesthetic Surgery found that the combination of minoxidil and microneedling was more effective than minoxidil on its own.

Hair loss treatments for alopecia areata

Alopecia areata is caused by an autoimmune problem. It tends to cause round patches of hair loss but can affect you in other ways, too.

A study in Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology reported that most people with alopecia areata tend to experience hair loss on less than half of their scalp. However, this condition can affect your entire head or even your whole body.

Most people with alopecia areata find that their hair returns naturally – but not everyone wants to sit around and hope their hair might grow back. One popular treatment for people experiencing this type of hair loss is minoxidil. Alternatively, a doctor might be able to prescribe products like steroids, immunosuppressants, or a topical immunotherapy treatment that might also be able to help.

Treatments for other types of hair loss

Treatments for other types of hair loss often require lifestyle changes. You may need to change the medications you’re taking or hair products you’re using. You may also need to modify your diet or consider a supplement.  

Hair loss isn’t always a stand-alone issue. Sometimes, it’s actually a sign of an underlying health problem. A study in the Medical Hypotheses journal reported that your hair follicles can be affected by autoimmune conditions, like lupus or scleroderma. This means that in certain cases, you’ll need to treat a different disease in order to manage your hair loss.

Takeaway

Examining a range of treatment options is an important first step in addressing hair loss due to androgenetic alopecia. Many clinical studies have evaluated the effectiveness of existing options, including surgery, and provide a good starting point when deciding on a plan of action.

HAIR LOSS TREATMENTS

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Is minoxidil shampoo as good as minoxidil?

Is minoxidil shampoo as good as minoxidil?

Minoxidil solutions are not all created equal. Minoxidil foam and serum made at concentrations of 2 or 5 percent can help treat androgenic alopecia. Minoxidil shampoo, on the other hand, is much less concentrated and may or may not help grow hair back.

Do DHT Blockers Work?

Do DHT Blockers Work?

Finasteride is a DHT-blocking medication that’s used to treat several different health problems. When used for hair loss, it works by preventing testosterone from turning into DHT, the hormone that causes androgenic alopecia.

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