Hair loss has become an industry packed with snake oil miracle cures that promise to restore hair growth but fail to deliver results. Products that are not FDA approved or recommended by The American Hair Loss Association do not meet quality standards for hair loss treatments. To date, only two treatments are clinically proven: Finasteride (Proscar/Propecia) and Minoxidil.
With the advent of these two treatments, there is new hope for men who are facing hair loss. With early intervention, it’s possible for hair loss progression to be stopped. In order for treatment to be successful, it must begin as soon as possible.
Finasteride (brand names Proscar and Propecia)
Originally, finasteride was developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck and approved by the FDA to treat enlarged prostrate glands but during trials some men noticed a side effect of considerable hair growth. Merck decided to continue development of finasteride as a treatment for androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness) and it was approved for that purpose by the FDA in 1997.
Lowering dihydrotestosterone (DHT) levels is currently the only medically effective way to stop hair loss. A daily 1 mg dose of Finasteride can lower DHT levels by as much as 60 percent and it was proven effective for stopping the progression of hair loss in 86% of the men who took it during clinical trials.
Minoxidil has a similar story to finasteride. It was originally used to treat high blood pressure. Eventually it was discovered that one of its side effects was growth of hair in unexpected places like on the cheeks, the backs of hands, and even on foreheads.
Some researchers experimented with applying minoxidil topically in areas where hair growth was desired. There were varying degrees of success with this application, which depended on the extent of the hair loss. However, minoxidil was the first drug that the FDA approved specifically for treatment of male pattern baldness and to this day, The American Hair Loss Association still recommends it for individuals who haven’t had success with finasteride. However, because it doesn’t affect the hormonal process, the effects of minoxidil are temporary and it is not seen as a long term solution.
To learn more about hair loss treatment for men check out The American Hair Loss Association men’s hair loss treatment section.