Hair Loss - Treatment Overview

How you treat hair loss depends on the cause. You may decide not to treat hair loss if it doesn't bother you.

Some people choose to treat hair loss with medicines or hair transplant surgery. Others choose to wear hairpieces (wigs or toupees) or use different methods of hair styling (dyeing or combing).

If a disease, medicine, or stress is the cause, then treating the disease, changing medicines, or managing stress may stop the hair loss.

Treatment for hair loss may help you feel better about how you look. But some medicines may have harmful side effects, and surgery may carry certain risks.

Inherited hair loss

Treatment for inherited hair loss aims to prevent hair loss, promote hair growth, and cover bald areas of the scalp. But treatment is not successful for everyone, and you should not expect to regrow a full head of hair.

Medicines

Medicines 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 a day in pill form.
Hair Loss: Should I Take Medicine to Regrow Hair?

Surgery

Surgery includes hair transplants and procedures such as scalp reduction and scalp flaps.

Hairpieces and hair products

Cosmetic approaches to hair loss include:

  • Wearing hairpieces. Hairpieces are made from human or synthetic hair that is implanted into a nylon netting. Hairpieces may be attached to the scalp with glue, metal clips, or tape. Hair weaving, which involves sewing or braiding pieces of long hair into existing hair, is not recommended because it may cause permanent hair loss.
  • Using certain hair care products and styling techniques. Hair care products or perms may make hair appear thicker. Dyes may be used to color the scalp. But continual use of perms or dyes may result in more hair loss.

Other concerns with hair loss

Treating the cause often stops hair loss, and hair grows back. In some cases, other treatment is needed.

Hair care for cancer treatment

Hair loss caused by cancer treatment requires special care: Use mild shampoos. Do not use a hair-dryer.

Continued

Alopecia areata

Alopecia areata occurs when the immune system attacks hair follicles, where hair growth begins. Because hair often grows back within a year, you may decide not to have treatment. Understanding the come-and-go nature of hair loss with this condition can help you make the best treatment decision. Children and teens may need counseling to help them adjust to the hair loss.

Medicines, such as corticosteroids, can be used to treat alopecia areata.

Women taking birth control pills

Women with inherited hair loss who wish to take birth control pills should use a pill type that does not add to hair loss, such as a norgestimate or desogestrel.2

Success of treatment

How successful your treatment is depends on your expectations and the cause of hair loss. Treatment for hair loss caused by an illness, medicine, or damage to the hair usually is more successful than treatment for inherited hair loss.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.© 1995-2015 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

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