A short survey of the various options to treat hair loss. Look in the specialzed sections for the things which raise your interest
Standard pharmaceutical treatment options
Drug therapy has become a realistic option for the treatment of baldness in both men and women since the 1980s. With an increased knowledge of the importance of dihydrotestosterone in both male and female baldness has led to the studies of preventing this hormone from acting on receptors on the scalp. With some chance discoveries, and the possibility of getting a breakthrough in stem cells and hair multiplication, lots of funding now goes into the research for scientifically proven baldness treatments. Male pattern business is predominant in more than half of men, by the age of 50; and this is the reason that baldness treatment has been proven to be a US $1 billion per year industry.
There are presently only two medications that are approved by the food and drug administration (FDA) for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia. These medications are Minoxidil and Finasteride.
Minoxidil is a drug that is found to lengthen the time of the anagen phase and increase blood supply to the follicle. However, the method of action for this is not known as of date. With the continued use of Minoxidil, you find that hair regrowth is more prominent at the vertex than in the frontal areas, which will not be noted for a minimum of four months. However, this is possible only with the continuous topical treatment of Minoxidil; its discontinuation only leads to a rapid reversion to the original balding pattern.
Those who respond best to Minoxidil are those with a recent case of androgenetic alopecia and little hair loss. This drug is usually sold as a 2 or 5 % solution, where the 5% solution proves to be more effective in controlling hair loss. A recent study showed that there was 45% more of regrowth of hair in those using the 5% solution, when compared with the 2% solution. Women are better responders to topical Minoxidil than men; but it has not been proven that there is difference in the effectiveness of the 2 and 5% solution in women. However, some studies have shown that the 5% solution tends to be more advantageous to women, with a higher occurrence of facial hair growth with the 5% solution.
Finasteride is another drug that is used in controlling hair loss. This drug is administered as an oral drug, and is a 5 alpha-reductase type 2 inhibitor. This drug is not an antiandrogen and can only be used by men. This is because it has been seen to produce ambiguous genitalia in all developing male fetus. Finasteride has been found to lower the progression of androgenetic alopecia in males and to stimulate new regrowth in many patients.
Finasteride is a drug that tends to attack vertex balding much more than frontal hair loss. However, it has been seen to increase regrowth in the frontal area. It is important to continue using Finasteride for some time now as its discontinuation only leads to a gradual progression of the hair disorder. There have been no signs of beneficial effects in the use of Finasteride in postmenopausal women for treating female androgenetic alopecia.
There are some drugs that though may not be FDA-approved, are helpful medications for androgenetic alopecia. Women with androgenetic alopecia, and more of hyperandrogenism, find androgen suppressant drugs like spironolactone and oral contraceptives to be much more beneficial for them. As androgenetic alopecia is a common hair disorder, it usually accompanies other types of hair loss. People with androgenetic alopecia also seem to suffer from telogen effluvium. This is why there is an ongoing search for treatable cases of telogen effluvium like anemia and hypothyroidism, which is more prominent in patients with an abrupt onset or rapid progression of their disease.
Surgical care for androgenetic alopecia
The past four decades has seen the success of surgical treatment for androgenetic alopecia. In such cases, the cosmetic results are usually satisfactory, while the main problem lies in covering the bald area with sufficient donor plugs or follicles to prove them effective. You can achieve a much more natural appearance with micro grafting, when compared to traditional modes of transplanting plugs. However, it is only patients with more than 40 follicular units/cm2 in their donor areas that are suitable candidates for micro grafting. Sometimes scalp reduction is tried to decrease the size of the scalp that has to be covered with the transplanted hair. However, with this method, these scars tend to spread and become more noticeable with the passage of time.
Hair weaving is a good cure for hair loss, and is easily available. Together with hairpieces, they provide the patient with a prosthetic method of coverage.