Hair Loss - Medications
hair loss can slow thinning of hair and increase
coverage of the scalp by growing new hair and enlarging existing hairs. But
they need to be taken continuously. If the medicines are stopped, any hair that
has grown in will gradually be lost, and within 6 to 12 months your scalp will
most likely appear the same as before treatment.
Should I Treat Inherited Hair Loss With Medicine?
Medicines often used to treat inherited hair loss
(androgenetic alopecia) include:
Minoxidil. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is
available without a prescription and is sprayed on and/or rubbed into the scalp
twice a day.
Finasteride. Finasteride (Propecia) is available by
prescription and is taken once daily in pill form. Finasteride has not been
proved effective in women and is not approved for women by the U.S. Food and
Drug Administration (FDA).2 Women who are or may
become pregnant should not take or handle crushed or broken tablets, because
finasteride can cause birth defects.
Medicines used to treat
alopecia areata, which is caused when the immune
hair follicles , include:
- Corticosteroids injected into the scalp. The corticosteroid is
injected many times about
1 cm (0.4 in.) apart every 4 to
6 weeks. This is the most common treatment in adults and is best used for
treating patchy hair loss. Limited research reports that hair grows back at the
site of injection in some people.1
Corticosteroid ointments or creams you put on the
scalp. There is little evidence that they cause hair growth when used
alone.1 Corticosteroids may be used along with
injected steroids or with other medicines such as minoxidil
- Corticosteroids you take by mouth (oral). Although this
does result in hair growth, it is rarely used because of the side effects of
Contact immunotherapy, which may be the
most effective treatment for severe alopecia areata.1
A common medicine used is diphenylcyclopropenone (DPCP), which is "painted" on
the scalp once a week at increasing strengths. The DPCP irritates the skin,
making it itchy and scaly. This treatment is not widely
Psoralen with ultraviolet A light (PUVA) therapy. For
PUVA, a medicine called a psoralen is used to make the skin more sensitive to
ultraviolet A (UVA) light. Then the skin is exposed to UVA light.
What To Think About
If you are taking medicine for
inherited hair loss, do not expect to regrow a full head of hair. Hair coverage
is improved on the top of the head, but not on the forehead area. But when you
stop taking these medicines, hair loss begins again.
Finasteride has not been proved effective in women and
is not approved for women by the FDA.2 Women who are
or may become pregnant should not take or handle crushed or broken tablets,
because finasteride can cause birth defects.