Scientists know a great deal about the actual mechanics of hair growth, but they have no idea what turns a hair follicle on and off. Just as with any other consumer decision-making, when it comes to hair loss treatments, the old adage of "buyer beware" rings true. If a hair loss treatment is not approved by the FDA or recommended by the American Hair Loss Association, chances are that you are wasting your time and money. Below is basic information about the most highly recommended FDA approved, non-surgical treatments available. Always speak with your doctor before considering any treatment.
The active ingredient in Rogaine (Minoxidil) was initially used to treat high blood pressure under the brand name Loniten. It was discovered that the drug had beneficial qualities that can actually promote hair growth. Two decades later, no one knows exactly how it works. It is believed that the medication dilates blood vessels on the scalp which may stimulate hair growth.
Side Effects and Warnings of Minoxidil:
- Itchy scalp and dandruff.
- Dizziness or rapid heartbeat.
- Formulated for scalp application and not recommended for use elsewhere on the body.
- Effects in women who are pregnant are unknown.
- If you are suffering from heart ailments or high blood pressure, inform your doctor before using this medication.
Side Effects and Warnings of Propecia:
- Reduction in libido in an estimated 30% of users
- Reported erectile dysfunction
- Gynecomastia, (male breast enlargement)
- Reported body fat accumulation
Sometimes Minoxidil is combined with Propecia. The results are better than when either medication is used alone. Minoxidil use can also be prescribed for individuals who have had a hair transplant. The medication is often recommended by hair transplant surgeons to promote the growth of the transplanted hair follicles.
Key Differences in Minoxidil and Propecia
In 2007, the FDA approved laser light therapy as a method to restore hair for both men and women. During treatment, infra-red light and UV light waves are directed at areas experiencing hair loss in order to stimulate blood circulation, increase cellular activity, and increase oxygen and nutrient supply to the hair follicle.
Although infrared and UV light treatments have been shown to result in hair growth, there is a chance that the results will only be temporary in over 50% of patients. Additionally, infra-red and UV light treatments have only been shown to be consistently effective for the treatment of mild hair loss. For individuals suffering from severe hair loss this procedure may not offer the best results.