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.
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:
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) 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
Like any other medication, there are pros and cons for taking Propecia (finasteride). It’s easy to remember to take a single pill each day. Propecia (finasteride) is a very effective hair loss treatment that works for almost 90% of men. Since they have the same formulation, generic finasteride effectiveness is the same as Propecia.
The side effects for Propecia (finasteride) include a variety of allergy symptoms, as well as altered moods. This can manifest as depression, but a study leveraging data from the World Health Organization’s database 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) 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 that isn’t recommended for hair loss, and as a topical spray for hair loss.
Minoxidil is a vasodilator that increases blood flow to your scalp, encouraging hair growth. While it isn’t as easy to take as a pill, applying minoxidil to your scalp isn’t a big deal. It can be a convenient and reliable treatment for people suffering from hair loss. While Regaine is primarily for men, there’s also a formulation for women.
Pros and cons of minoxidil
The pros and cons of minoxidil should be considered before starting treatment. Tablet medications like finasteride and dutasteride have a higher risk for side effects because they circulate throughout your body, whereas Regaine (minoxidil) is topically applied to your scalp. As a result, the risk of side effects for Regaine (minoxidil) is lower, making it one of the best hair growth products for men.
The side effects from Regaine (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 Regaine (minoxidil), immediately discontinue use and talk to your doctor about other treatments for hair loss.
Avodart (dutasteride) is a prescription drug that is usually used to treat an enlarged prostate. It is a hard or soft capsule that you take once a day. You can take it with food if you prefer, but it isn’t necessary.
It is a 5-ARI that reduces hair loss by reducing the amount of DHT in your body. Unlike Propecia (finasteride), it isn’t specifically indicated for hair loss treatment. Avodart (dutasteride) is not a suitable treatment for women with hair loss—it is only for men.
Pros and cons of dutasteride
There are several pros and cons for Avodart (dutasteride) as a hair loss treatment. It’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.
Avodart (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.
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 for 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 a variety of factors: allergies, convenience, cause of hair loss, and personal preference.
Your doctor will tell you to immediately discontinue use of any medication that elicits an allergic reaction for you. 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.
If convenient treatment regimens are important to you, choosing a medication that is a simple pill to swallow may appeal to you. Applying a foam like Regaine (minoxidil) may seem like a hassle and not worth the trouble in this case. The easily swallowed Propecia (finasteride) or Avodart (dutasteride) will have more appeal.
Aside from convenience, you may prefer a drug that has a higher rate of effectiveness or that is specifically formulated as a hair loss treatment. Propecia (finasteride) works for nearly 90% of men, Avodart (dutasteride) is at least moderately effective for up to 85% of men, and Regaine (minoxidil) is effective for over 80% of men. Avodart shows promise, but you may be wary of it since it’s a treatment for reducing the size of your prostate gland and not specifically for hair loss.
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.
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.
Zhou, Z., Song, S., Gao, Z., Wu, J., Ma, J. and Cui, Y. (2019).
The efficacy and safety of dutasteride compared with finasteride in treating men with androgenetic alopecia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Clinical Interventions in Aging, Volume 14, pp.399–406.
A one-year observational study with minoxidil 5% solution in Germany: results of independent efficacy evaluation by physicians and patients. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 50(3), p.P91.
Disclaimer: The information provided on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any questions or concerns about your health, please talk to a doctor.