Whether you have been noticing a few extra hairs falling out here and there, know that pattern baldness runs in your family and fear the inevitable is only a matter of time, or are already in the habit of applying sunscreen to your bare scalp, there are treatment options available. However acting sooner rather than later is more likely to improve your chances of success with some of the commonly used medications and therapies. There are FDA-approved treatments which have been shown to lead to hair regrowth, but just as importantly, they prevent further hair loss. Also keep in mind that results will vary between individuals. Moreover discontinuing treatment results in loss of both the hair that was regrown as well as what was retained.
Some front-line options include minoxidil, finasteride and more recently, low level laser treatment.
This option is applied topically and is available over the counter. Available as a 2% solution that must be applied twice daily or 5% foam for once daily applications. Minoxidil is a popular choice due to a lack of adverse effects. It is currently believed to encourage blood flow to nourish growing follicles1.
Finasteride is an oral medication that requires a prescription and comes with some reports of side effects. Use of finasteride can block the formation of the hormone DHT which is responsible for initiating the miniaturization process in hair follicles that results in pattern baldness2.
Low Level Laser Therapy
Also cleared by the FDA, low level laser therapy is now being used to treat pattern baldness. Laser treatment is believed to encourage hair growth in currently existing hair follicles.
Putting it all together, these therapies act on existing hair follicles. Once a follicle has been lost, such as with pattern baldness, (but not all hair loss), medication or laser therapy is unlikely to bring it back. These treatments can encourage some new growth but are more successful in preventing further hair loss3 and results are only present for as long as the therapy is maintained4,5. Therefore these commonly used interventions can be much more effective the earlier they are implemented. More advanced cases can thus be more difficult to treat. In the end, for non-surgical treatment of pattern hair loss, it is the early bird that gets the worm.
Please speak with your physician or hair loss expert before starting medication or treatment.
Article by: Dr. J.L. Carviel PhD, Mediprobe Research Inc.
- Messenger A g., Rundegren J. Minoxidil: mechanisms of action on hair growth. Br J Dermatol 2004;150:186–94.
- Mirmirani P. Age-related hair changes in men: mechanisms and management of alopecia and graying. Maturitas 2015;80:58–62.
- Banka N, Bunagan MJK, Shapiro J. Pattern Hair Loss in Men. Diagnosis and Medical Treatment. Dermatol Clin 2013;31:129–40.
- Varothai S, Bergfeld WF. Androgenetic alopecia: an evidence-based treatment update. Am J Clin Dermatol 2014;15:217–30.
- Gupta AK, Charrette A. Topical Minoxidil: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Its Efficacy in Androgenetic Alopecia. Skinmed 2015;13:185–9.