There are a range of medications that are known to have varying degrees of efficacy for hair loss problems, which are well known to us at the Harley Street Hair Clinic.

Hair Loss Treatment

There are a few medications that have been proven to stop hair loss, or even reverse the balding effects of hair loss. Two main medications include Finasteride (commonly known as Propecia) and dutasteride (known as Avodart). Both of these medications have proven very effective in clinical trials for re-growing thinning hair at the top of the scalp. In Propecia, some clinical studies have shown that as many as 80% of the users saw a significant decrease in the appearance of their baldness after use of the medicine.

Both of these medicines work in the same way to battle hair loss: they inhibit the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is the hormone that causes hereditary balding. This hormone can affect hair follicles that are genetically vulnerable by breaking them down and preventing hair growth in the future. By using medication to inhibit this process, patients can experience renewed hair growth. Not only does the medication halt or slow the process of hair loss, but it can even cause hair to begin to grow again.

Rogaine is one of the most commonly recognized forms of treatment for thinning hair and for hair loss, and it also originally required a prescription. However, in 1995, it became available in 2% strength Rogaine over-the-counter. Now it is even available in 5% strength over-the-counter. Rogaine (also known as Minoxidil) works as a lotion form to stop the balding process and encourage the re-growth of hair.

One thing to be aware of about using medication to treat hair loss is that, while it has been proven that these medicines are successful, they typically do not have any effect on re-growth at the front of the hairline. This area may resist the medication more than the crown of the head, and so it is often recommended that patients take the medication to halt hair loss, and then use other methods, such as a hair transplant, to replace lost hair that will not re-grow on its own.

Propecia/Finasteride

Finasteride (marketed as Proscar, Propecia, Fincar, Finpecia, Finax, Finast, Finara, Finalo, Prosteride, Gefina, Finasterid IVAX) is an antiandrogen which acts by inhibiting type II 5-alpha reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is used as a treatment in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in low doses, and in prostate cancer in higher doses. Additionally, it is registered in many countries as a hair loss treatment for androgenetic alopecia (male-pattern baldness).

In a 5-year study of men with mild to moderate hair loss, 48% of those treated with Finasteride 1mg experienced some regrowth of hair, and 42% had no further loss. Average hair count in the treatment group remained above baseline, and showed an increasing difference from hair count in the placebo group, for all five years of the study. Propecia is effective only for as long as it is taken; the hair gained or maintained is lost within 6-12 months of ceasing therapy. In clinical studies, Propecia, like minoxidil, was shown to work on both the crown area and the hairline, but is most successful in the crown area.

How does Finasteride work?

Finasteride works by blocking the enzyme, Type II 5 alpha-reductase, and in doing so it reduces the level of the hormone in the scalp which shortens the hair growth cycle and allows hairs to revert to a normal growth cycle. This can, in turn, stop hair loss and increase new hair growth in men with male pattern baldness (androgenetic alopecia). Continuous use once a day for 3-6 months is required before benefit is seen, and effects are reversed 6-12 months after treatment is discontinued so continuous use is recommended to sustain benefit.

Side effects

When taken at the recommended dose, the possible side effects of Finasteride are usually mild and generally have not caused the men to stop taking the medicine.

Possible side effects that have been identified with Finasteride include decreased libido, erectile dysfunction, decreased volume of ejaculate, breast tenderness and enlargement; rashes, itching and swelling of the lips and face; and testicular pain. These are reversed after treatment is discontinued.

Warnings

Some users, in an effort to save money, buy Proscar instead of Propecia, and split the Proscar pills to approximate the Propecia dosage. Doing so is generally considered unadvisable if women of pregnancy age are in the household; this is because finasteride, even in small concentrations, can cause birth defects in a developing male fetus. The birth defects involve the development of male genitalia (no such effects have been noted in developing female fetuses). On most product inserts, it will be mentioned that the dust or crumbs from broken Propecia tablets should be kept away from pregnant women.

Regaine/Minoxidil

Minoxidil is a vasodilator and originally was exclusively used as an oral drug (Loniten®) to treat high blood pressure. It was, however, discovered to have the interesting side effect of hair growth and reversing baldness, and in the 1980s, Upjohn Corporation produced a topical solution that contained 2% minoxidil to be used as a hair loss treatment, to treat baldness and hair loss, under the brand name Rogaine in the United States, and Regaine outside the United States.

Treatments usually include a 5% concentration solutions that are designed for men, while the 2% concentration solutions are designed for women. It is unknown how the drug stimulates hair growth, however some experts believe that minoxidil dilates the blood vessels around hair follicles, increasing the nutrient supply and encouraging increased hair growth.

The key to using Minoxidil is to begin using it early. The best candidates are those who are thinning but not bald. Those with a higher density of hair at the beginning of treatment are good candidates. If the medication is stopped, after prolonged use, hair loss may increase.

Application

Two daily applications for up to four months may be required before evidence of hair regrowth is observed. The onset and degree of hair regrowth may be variable among different patients treated with this medicine. If hair regrowth occurs, two daily applications are necessary for additional and continued hair growth (unless your doctor directs otherwise). First hair growth may be soft, downy, colorless hair that is barely visible. After further treatment, however, the new hair should be the same color and thickness as the other hair on the scalp.

If one or two applications are missed, restart twice daily applications and return to the usual schedule. Do not attempt to make up for missed doses or use more than 1 mL at a time. Do not use on sunburned skin.

It is important to continue to use minoxidil for the entire time prescribed by your doctor, even if hair growth does not appear within several months. If there is no hair growth after at least four months or more, consult with your doctor, as this medication may not be effective for you.It is usually applied in a 1-3% solution twice a day. It must be used for a about six months to see the benefits.

Side effects

Major complications are rare, but patients who suffer from heart disease or hypertension should check with their doctor before beginning treatment.

The most common problem is irritation and dryness of the skin. Large amounts of minoxidil can cause hypotension, headaches, irregular or fast heart beat, blurred vision, chest pain.

Vitamins For Hair

If you were wondering whether you can buy hair growth vitamins that will reverse baldness, sadly for men the simple answer is no.

A pill won’t make a hair on a bald head grow, although vitamins are essential to promote growth for the hairs that are already present. Consuming your recommended amount of vitamins and minerals will help the hair growth cycle work to the best of its ability and keep hair healthy and strong.

Vitamin B

Eight vitamins make up the vitamin B group. As these vitamins are water soluble, they are often broken down and destroyed during the cooking process. This is why wholegrain foods have a higher nutritional value than white floured foods as they aren’t processed. B vitamins are essential for breaking down carbohydrates into glucose as well as maintaining healthy hair, skin, eyes and liver.

VITAMIN B IS FOUND IN:

  • Bulgar wheat
  • Green peas
  • Lentils
  • Walnuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Soybeans
  • Oats
  • Brewer’s yeast
  • Brown rice
  • Wholegrain bread
  • Beans
  • Citrus fruits
  • Eggs
  • Cauliflower

If you’re concerned that you are not including vitamin B naturally in your diet, you may want to consider supplements. Vitamin B complex contains riboflavin, pantothenic acid, folic acid, niacin, biotin, thiamin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12.

Vitamins E & C

  • The principal function of Vitamin E is to transfer oxygen in the blood and improve blood circulation in the scalp. It has an effect on immune function, which improves the health of the hair and reduces the risk of hair loss.
  • Blood circulation of the scalp is also improved with the help of vitamin C. All capillaries which carry blood to the follicles are maintained by vitamin C.

VITAMIN E IS FOUND IN:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Almonds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Pistachios
  • Kiwi
  • Mango
  • Tomato
  • Butternut squash
  • Broccoli

There are many other nuts, fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin E

VITAMIN C IS FOUND IN:

Here are the ten highest sources below:

  • Citrus fruits
  • Berries
  • Kiwis
  • Guavas
  • Peppers
  • Dark green leafy vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Tomato
  • Papaya
  • Peas (Mange Tout)

Watch out for Vitamin A

Although Vitamin A is an essential vitamin required for vision, boosting immune function and skin health, too much of this vitamin can actually lead to hair loss.

Here is a list of some foods high in Vitamin A:

  • Sweet potato
  • Carrots
  • Dark leafy greens
  • Butternut squash
  • Dried apricots
  • Sweet red peppers
  • Tuna
  • Mango

Minerals

Iron and zinc are essential minerals needed to achieve healthy and strong hair.

Iron and zinc can be found within the following foods:

IRON

  • Red meat
  • Lentils
  • Egg yolk
  • Spinach
  • Chicken

ZINC

  • Lamb
  • Turkey
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chocolate

Whether you are taking supplements or including vitamins and minerals naturally within your diet, make sure to check an RDA guide to help you keep on track