The loss of hair on the scalp can be a traumatic blow to the self-confidence of a person. Men with a healthy hairline are often viewed as being more youthful than their counterparts while women are often defined by their appearance (and this includes their hairstyle). Even though a hair transplant can be performed to provide a fuller head of hair to anyone suffering from badling on the scalp, some patients are not ready to make the commitment to have an invasive surgical procedure. Thankfully, there are some medications that cause hair growth and thicken the thinning hair on the scalp.
Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, is an FDA-approved topical treatment that is available over the counter. It is available to the public as either a foam or liquid spray that is sold under the brand name of Rogaine. The treatment works because minoxidil is a vasodilator and this causes the blood vessels to dilate under the skin. In turn, the flow of blood in the body increases thanks to the dilation of the blood vessels. It is not exactly known how the action mechanism of minoxidil works. There is a theory that minoxidil works by partially enlarging the hair follicles and then lengthening the hair growth cycle of the scalp hair. A longer hair growth cycle will result in a greater amount of hair coverage on the scalp. Patients will experience some shedding of the hair when they first start to use minoxidil, but this is due to the scalp hair moving from the resting phase to the growth phase of the hair growth cycle.
Finasteride, which is known by the brand name Propecia, is a prescription oral medication that is FDA-approved for the treatment of male pattern baldness. The medication works to slow down the hair loss of a patient while also stimulating new hair growth on the scalp. Finasteride lowers the DHT levels in the body. DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is an androgen that shrinks the hair follicles and causes hair loss by making the hair growth cycle shorter than usual. The hair turns brittle and thin and falls out at a faster rate.
Patients need to know that neither minoxidil or finasteride are permanent solutions to hair loss. If a patient decides to stop taking these medications, the results that have been gained will go away and the patient will continue to experience hair loss on the scalp. Patients should schedule a consultation appointment with a board-certified doctor who is experienced in treating hair loss. The doctor can identify the reasons for the hair loss and determine if minoxidil or finasteride is the best medical option for the patient.