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What are the most commonly used medical treatments for hair loss?

  • Minoxidil was the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (i.e., hair loss). For decades Minoxidil has been used as an oral pill to treat “high blood pressure”. One of the side effects was hair growth and reversal of male patterned baldness. However, taking Minoxidil in a pill form had many other side effects that made it impractical to take for the treatment of baldness. In the 1980’s, UpJohn Corporation came out with a topical formulation of Minoxidil, called RogaineВ®. This formulation of Minoxidil was a 2% strength. In the 1990’s, UpJohn’s patent expired causing the price to come down due numerous generic forms of Minoxidil hitting the market. Pharmacia subsequently came out with a 5% Minoxidil solution and now Upjohn also makes this strength.

  • PropeciaВ® is the first pill that effectively treats male pattern hair loss on the vertex (at top of head) and anterior mid-scalp area. PropeciaВ® is an oral medication that you take once a day, with or without food, with or without medication, morning or night-it just doesn’t matter. You just need to take it. PropeciaВ® (finasteride), available only by prescription, is an exciting weapon in the battle against male pattern hair loss. PropeciaВ® is for use by MEN ONLY and should NOT be used by women or children.

  • Dutasteride is FDA approved for the treatment of symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men, similar to Finasteride 5mg (ProscarВ®). However, only Finasteride 1mg (PropeciaВ®) is FDA approved for the treatment of male pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia), where Dutasteride is not. The studies on Dutasteride and hair growth have been stopped. The medical community has not been told why the company stopped the hair growth studies or if they will be completed sometime in the future.

  • Azelaic Acid is a naturally occurring dicarboxylic acid found in whole grain cereals and animal products. It is FDA approved as a topical preparation to treat acne vulgaris. It is also used by dermatologist to lighten hyperpigmented skin.

  • Retinoic Acid was first FDA approved for acne under the trade name Retin-AВ®. Since then it has been discovered that Retinoic acid can be used for several medical conditions, one is hair loss. Retinoic Acid is available only by prescription from a doctor in the United States.

  • Spironolactone is a “Potassium Sparing Diuretic” that has been used for decades to treat high blood pressure and fluid retention.


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