Hair loss is one of the top reasons patients come to our practice. The good news: hair loss is treatable in both men and women. The bad news: many of the hair loss treatments on the market do not work.
I have some mild hair loss myself, and every day, I am inundated with ads for hair remedies like Vegamour, Briogeo, Revela, Armra, SuperzeroNow – the list goes on. None are scientifically proven to work. None.
Rosemary oil has been a hot hair loss topic recently, and it isn’t proven to work either. The only study of any merit compared rosemary oil to topical minoxidil at 2%. The study concluded that they had a similar effect on hair loss. In my practice, I have not seen much – if any – effect of minoxidil 2% on hair loss, so all this study tells me is that neither of the two treatments work well.
There is some evidence that supplements like Viviscal Pro and Nutrafol may help a little. But they are not miracles for hair growth.
To clear up confusion, let’s talk about the hair loss treatments that do work and what you can expect from them. But first, let’s talk about the causes of hair loss.
What causes hair loss?
Hair loss can be caused by your genetic predisposition (referred to as male or female-pattern hair loss) or medical conditions like anemia, lupus, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, cancer treatments, hormonal imbalances, and more.
Severe stress on your body can also cause hair loss. In the medical world, we refer to it as telogen effluvium. It is a temporary phenomenon that occurs approximately four to six months after a stressor such as pregnancy, surgery, serious illness, or change in medication. Once the stressful event subsides, your hair generally grows back.
Of course, before starting any treatments, consult your doctor to understand what may be causing your hair loss.
Once you rule out a medical condition, we can help find the right treatment for you.
Hair loss treatments for women
We always look for hormonal influences before we begin treatment. Once we start, the first line of treatment is oral spironolactone, which has good effects on both thinning hair and acne.
Ketoconazole shampoo (Nizoral) 1% can also be helpful for treating hair loss. It’s actually an anti-dandruff shampoo. Because it works to tamp down inflammation on the scalp, it can encourage hair growth.
If that’s not working, there are other options.
For postmenopausal women, I will sometimes prescribe oral minoxidil, oral finasteride or dutasteride. Not all women are good candidates for these treatments. Some don’t want to take hormone receptor medication or deal with excess peach fuzz on their face.
In that case, I will turn to topicals. Women don’t love to use topical minoxidil. It’s sticky, you have to apply it twice a day, and it can take up to six months to see results. With both oral and topical minoxidil, the most common side effect is hair growth on your face. However, if you’re willing to put up with these issues, it does have good effects on thinning hair.
Topical finasteride and topical dutasteride are the other topical options. There is evidence that both are helpful, but they may be a bit costly because they have to be compounded in a special pharmacy.
Finally, we have PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injections. It is a three-step medical treatment in which your blood is drawn, processed, and then injected back into the scalp. Injections are done one month apart; after the third injection, you wait a few months to see how well it works. It’s also more costly and is best done with one of the other modalities listed above to achieve optimal results.
Both men and women can be good candidates for hair transplants. We refer those patients to skilled surgeons for that procedure.
Hair loss treatments for men
For men, there are a couple of options. Topical Minoxidil at 5% strength used twice a day is helpful at growing new hair and maintaining the hair you do have. Unfortunately, if you stop using it, much of the new hair will likely fall out.
Oral finasteride (Propecia) is a pill taken once a day, which works very nicely for many men. There is a lot of noise about this on the internet, much of which is exaggerated. Always talk to your doctor about any medication’s side effects; don’t rely on what you read online.
Don’t waste your money on treatments that don’t work!
If you are interested in stopping and reversing hair loss with treatments that are proven to work, schedule a consultation with us. We will discuss your concerns and have an honest conversation about the treatments that will work for you.