WWhen you visit your GP about hair loss he or she will devise a treatment plan for you which include medicine to address your condition.
Your GP will firstly, determine the cause of your hair loss before prescribing any treatment as there could any number of reasons why you are losing your hair.Once he/she has done so the next step is to prescribe a medicine to treat it.
As with form of medicine there are benefits and side effects and you need to be aware of these before you go ahead with treatment.
Medicine for hair loss
There are very few medicines available which can treat or even reverse hair loss. In the main there are two types of medicine which are:
- Finasteride (also known as Propecia)
- Dutasteride (known as Avodart)
- There is a third type of medicine called Regaine (also known as Minoxidil) which is available in both prescription form and over the counter.
Finasteride has proven to be very effective in reducing hair loss and even promotes new hair growth but it is not available on the NHS. This medicine and dutasteride both work by blocking 5-alpha reductase, a compound in the body which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This hormone is directly responsible for male pattern baldness so any move to prevent this is a good thing. This medicine is taken in an oral form and can reverse baldness caused by a genetic reason or androgenetic alopecia. However, like any form of medicine it does contain side effects which include decreased libido, rashes or itching and ejaculation disorders. Finasteride is not prescribed for women even though they also suffer from baldness as there are risks for women of childbearing age (or who are currently pregnant).
Dutasteride works in much the same way as Finasteride. And it also helps by shrinking an enlarged prostate gland which can be caused by the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This medicine is taken in capsule form.You need to take this for 6 months or so before you notice any improvement but it is effective at reducing an enlarged prostate gland and baldness. Again, this medicine should not be taken by women of childbearing age because of the risks to the unborn baby. There are side effects with this medicine as there is with Finasteride. These include dizziness, rashes, reduced sperm count and impotence. So consider these carefully when applying for this medicine. This may seem rather harsh for women who also experience hair loss and baldness but if you are female and in this position then your GP should be able to recommend an alternative.
Regaine (also known as Minoxidil) is used to treat hereditary hair loss. It works by preventing any further hair loss and even stimulates the follicles into new hair growth. One big advantage of this is that you can buy it over the counter rather than going through your GP. It comes as a spray or rub-on applicator and is applied to the scalp twice a day. For best results ensure that this is applied to your scalp and not just your hair and stick to the recommended dosage. This does not work as a hormone blocker in the same way that Finasteride and Dutasteride do so there are no bad side effects but you have to use this every day for the rest of your life. If you stop taking it then your baldness will return.
Women and children are unable to use these hair loss medicines and neither can men who have suffered (or are suffering from) liver disease or prostate cancer.
Please be aware that whilst these medicines are effective at treating hair loss they do not cause any new hair growth around the temples. So it may be a good idea to use these in conjunction with other forms of treatment such as hair transplant surgery.
Dr. Narendra Patwardhan, at Hair and Skin clinic, Bhandarkar Road, Pune is an expert Cosmetologist, Dermatologist, Skin Specialist and Hair Specialist and has expert knowledge and a great deal of expertise treating hairloss with medicines.