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There are a variety of conditions that cause hair loss, ranging from alopecia to side effects from medications. But a lot of men lose their hair naturally as they get older, and turn to treatment for help.

Depending on the cause of your hair loss, there may be a prescription medication that can help slow your hair loss down, or even help you some if it back. But with so many medications available, you need to understand how each works, and who they’re best for.

On this page we’ll look at the main treatments for hair loss, and explore them in more detail.

Active ingredient
Available doses
Form
Lasts for
Made/marketed by
Pharmacy status
Prices starting at
Works in
Finasteride

Finasteride

Finasteride

Generic version of Propecia. Daily tablet that stops hair loss and encourages hair growth.

See treatment  
Finasteride
1mg
Tablet
N/A
Generic
Prescription
£34.95
3-6 months
Regaine

Regaine

Minoxidil

Hair loss foam that you massage into your scalp. Contains Minoxidil, which promotes hair growth.

See treatment  
Minoxidil
5%
Foam
N/A
McNeil
OTC
£83.95
2-4 months
Propecia

Propecia

Finasteride

Like Finasteride, but the branded version. Gets to grips with the enzyme that causes hair loss.

See treatment  
Finasteride
1mg
Tablet
N/A
Organon Pharma
Prescription
£66.95
3-6 months
  • Manufacturers subject to change.
  • Start and duration of effects are estimations.
  • For more detailed information on your medication, read the patient information leaflet.
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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Daniel Atkinson, GP Clinical Lead on August 02, 2022. Next review due on August 01, 2024.

What are the different types of hair loss treatment?

There are different types of hair loss. Sometimes hair falls out suddenly, and other times it thins more slowly. Male pattern baldness happens more as men get older, and genetics play a huge part in this. But sometimes hair loss can also be a secondary symptom of a disease or a side effect of a treatment regimen like chemotherapy.

You should discuss any hair loss that happens suddenly, or that’s caused by an illness or medication with your doctor. They’ll be able to offer further advice or adjust your medication to help with the problem.

Male pattern baldness, also known as hereditary baldness or androgenetic alopecia, won’t have an adverse effect on your physical health. Many men accept it, but some men may seek treatment if they’re anxious or reluctant to lose their hair.

There are a variety of medications that are formulated to help regrow your hair:

  • Propecia
  • Finasteride
  • Avodart
  • Dutasteride
  • Minoxidil

Each of these is used to treat male-pattern baldness. Propecia/Finasteride and Avodart/Dutasteride are 5-alpha reductase inhibitors (5-ARIs). 5-ARIs decrease the amount of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) produced in the body. This, in turn, reduces male-pattern hair loss. Regaine/Minoxidil, on the other hand, is a vasodilator. It works to reduce hair loss by increasing blood flow to your hair follicles.

Propecia (Finasteride)

Propecia (finasteride) is a prescription medication that is used to treat male-pattern hair loss. Men who suffer from male-pattern hair loss get it from genetics and higher concentrations of DHT. While you can’t change your genetic predisposition to hair loss, Propecia (finasteride) works to reduce the levels of DHT in your body to reduce hair loss. The dose of finasteride for hair loss is 1mg daily.

It’s easy to take Propecia (finasteride). Simply take one pill every day. You can take it with or without food. Stop taking it and tell your doctor if you exhibit any symptoms of an allergic reaction.

Pros and Cons of Finasteride

Customer-Satisfaction-1.pngIt’s easy to remember to take a single pill each day. It’s the most effective hair loss treatment that works for almost 90% of men .

Thumbs down icon

The side effects of finasteride include a variety of allergy symptoms, as well as altered moods. This can manifest as depression, but data from the World Health Organization has found an association between finasteride and suicidality. The reason for the link has not been determined .

Another important potential side effect is the so-called Post-Finasteride syndrome. This is a controversial condition consisting of reduced libido, erectile dysfunction, depression and gynecomastia reported by men who have taken oral finasteride and discontinued it. Despite these rare side effects, finasteride remains one of the best hair loss treatments on the market .

Regaine (Minoxidil)

Regaine (minoxidil) is a foam that is topically applied to your scalp. It is the most popular form of minoxidil. Other forms of minoxidil include a pill called Loniten, which isn’t recommended for hair loss, and a topical spray for hair loss.

Minoxidil is a vasodilator that increases blood flow to your scalp, encouraging hair growth. It’s a topical solution that’s easy and convenient to apply. As it’s a topical medication, it has a lower risk of causing side effects throughout the body compared to oral medications. This makes it a good option for men who are concerned about potential side effects from hair loss treatments. While Regaine is primarily for men, there’s also a formulation for women.

Pros and cons of minoxidil

Customer-Satisfaction-1.pngTablet medications like finasteride and dutasteride have a higher risk for side effects because they circulate throughout your body, whereas minoxidil (Regaine) is topically applied to your scalp. As a result, the risk of side effects for minoxidil is lower, making it one of the best hair growth products for men.

Thumbs down iconThe side effects of minoxidil are usually localised to your scalp. These include itching, rash and headache. You may also have an allergic reaction including facial and throat swelling, heart palpitations, and low blood pressure. If you experience any signs that you are allergic to minoxidil, immediately discontinue use and talk to your doctor about other treatments for hair loss.

Avodart (Dutasteride)

Avodart (dutasteride) is a prescription drug that is usually used to treat an enlarged prostate. It’s an off-label drug for hair loss, which means it isn’t prescribed for the treatment mentioned in the patient information leaflet. This doesn’t mean it’s not safe, as your clinician will only prescribe it if they deem it safe and effective for you.

It comes as a hard or soft capsule that you take once a day, with food if you prefer, but it isn’t necessary. It’s a 5-ARI that reduces hair loss by reducing the amount of DHT in your body. Avodart (dutasteride) is not a suitable treatment for women with hair loss—it is only for men.

Pros and cons of dutasteride

Customer-Satisfaction-1.pngAvodart (dutasteride) might be the best hair regrowth treatment for you. It can be a very effective treatment for hair loss, as up to 85% of men can expect to see reduced hair loss while using Avodart (dutasteride). It is an easy treatment to adhere to since it’s a single capsule that you take once a day. This also makes it very convenient because it can be taken anywhere.

Thumbs down iconIt’s important to note that dutasteride is not a drug that is specifically licensed for hair loss treatment. Dutasteride is actually a treatment used to reduce the size of your prostate gland. Reduced hair loss is a side effect, more or less. As a result, if your doctor prescribes this to treat your hair loss, it is an off label indication. The side effects for this drug include an itchy rash, hives, and facial and throat swelling.

What is the best hair loss treatment for men?

The best hair loss treatment for men depends on individual factors. Different people experience different results from treatment. Your doctor will review your medical history and the cause of your hair loss to determine which treatment regimen to pursue.

Propecia (finasteride), Regaine (minoxidil), and Avodart (dutasteride) are all effective treatments for male-pattern hair loss. Determining the appropriate medication for you depends on various factors: allergies, convenience, cause of hair loss, and personal preference.

If you prefer a quick and simple treatment, choosing a daily pill, like Propecia (finasteride) or Avodart (dutasteride) might be a better fit for you. Swallowing a pill can be an easy habit to incorporate into your daily life. However, if you don’t like swallowing pills, then Regaine, which is a daily topical foam, might be more convenient. Ultimately, the best choice depends on your individual preferences and priorities.

Aside from convenience, you may prefer a drug that has the highest effectiveness rate. Propecia (finasteride) boasts the highest effectiveness, working for nearly 90% of men , followed by Avodart (dutasteride) which works for up to 85% of men , and lastly, Regaine (minoxidil) which is effective for over 80% of men .

Whatever your reasons, the hair loss treatment you choose will depend upon the discussion you have with your doctor. The most important part is that you thoroughly research each option to determine which medication attributes are most important to you.

Your doctor will tell you to immediately discontinue the use of any medication that causes an allergic reaction. Even if it’s a mild reaction. Hair growth isn’t worth risking your life, as allergic reactions increase in severity with each exposure and can even lead to death.

How to safely use hair loss treatments

Using medication to treat hair loss can be effective. Just like other treatments, it can carry risks. In order to use these options safely, you should be careful to choose medications that are proven to be safe. If you experience any adverse side effects, be sure to tell your physician.

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