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Many things can cause women to lose more hair than normal: genetics, illness, stress, medical conditions or hormonal imbalance, aging, and even what you eat. The first step is to work with your doctor to find out what's causing the problem. There may be treatments that can help restore your locks.

Minoxidil: No Prescription Needed

Pros: Minoxidil ( Rogaine, Ronoxidil) can stop hairs from getting thinner. It also can help some women regrow hair on the top of their head, says Paradi Mirmirani, MD. She's a dermatologist with the Permanente Medical Group in Vallejo, Calif.. “Very good studies show that it’s effective and gets the hair root or follicle to become larger.”

Minoxidil OTC come in 5% and 2% solutions and are considered safe for most women. The 2% solution is the only hair loss treatment for women approved by the FDA. Depending on which solution you use you put it on your scalp once daily.

Cons: It doesn’t work for everybody. “About half of the people who use it do well and see new hair growth,” says Mirmirani. “Another 40% or so hold steady, not growing new hair but not losing more either. And about 10% find that it doesn’t help at all.”

Regrowth can take a while. It may be 12 weeks or longer before new hair starts growing, says Sonia Badreshia-Bansal, MD. She's a clinical instructor in dermatology at the University of California, San Francisco, and a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss. She suggests using Minoxidil for 6 months and seeing what happens.

The most common side effect is scalp irritation. Some women may have unwanted hair growth on their forehead or face. The other downside: You have to keep using it or your hair will start thinning again.

Prescription Possibilities

Two drugs aren't approved to treat women's hair loss, but doctors sometimes use them in women with hair loss. Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar) is an oral medication approved for hair loss in men, but not for women. That, says Mirmirani, is because it affects the hormone testosterone.