Losing Your Hair?
Getting to the Root of Things continued...
For Tracy, it was a co-worker's casual comment that finally
spurred her to take action. Ten years after her hair began to fall out, a male
co-worker with thinning hair asked what she did about her hair loss.
"Suddenly it felt like someone had ripped my clothes off, and I was
standing there in public, naked," she says. "But he did me the biggest
That conversation signaled a turning point for Tracy. The
energy she directed toward denying her problem fueled a quest for answers.
Tracy's search led to a clinical trial in San Francisco for the then-unreleased
When Tracy started using the drug, not only did her hair stop
falling out, it started growing back. "While it wasn't a lot, maybe 20%, it
meant the world to me," she says. "More important, the drug stopped any
Treating Female Pattern Baldness
While many products promise to restore lost hair, only two are
FDA-approved drugs that have been shown to do so: Rogaine and Propecia. Both
interfere with the follicle destruction triggered by DHT. However, these
androgen-blocking drugs cannot be used during pregnancy, and for this reason,
says Kobren, drug companies are reluctant to market them to women.
A 2% minoxidil solution is approved for use in women by the FDA
and is available in drugstores without a prescription. It's a liquid that must
be applied to the scalp twice daily. A 5% solution is also available for men
but is neither approved for use in women, nor proven to be more effective for
them. Therefore, women should likely resist the temptation to buy the stronger
formula thinking that more is better.
Keep in mind, too, that if you take the minoxidil route, you'll
have to stick with it. "The biggest reason women fail with this treatment
is because they stop using it too soon," says Marty Sawaya, MD, PhD,
dermatologist and principal investigator of clinical research at Alopecia
Research and Associated Technologies in Ocala, Fla. "Women need to adjust
their expectations -- they aren't going to look like Lady Godiva in two
weeks." Sawaya says women may see some improvement in three months but will
need to use the drug for an entire year for full results to show. And to
maintain whatever improvement occurs, women need to continue to use minoxidil
once a day for life, or the new growth will fall out.