Men and women experience hair loss to varying degrees and at different times. For some people balding may occur suddenly. Such a person may suffer embarrassment and low self-esteem. However, for most people, hair loss is gradual, usually resulting from stress, illness, or an unhealthy diet. This is often associated with a number of diseases, such as diabetes, chronic tension, depression, and nutritional deficiencies.
Androgenetic Alopecia, also known as male pattern hair loss, is the leading form of hair loss in both men and women and is actually a normal physiological variant. In fact, it is most common in white men, with thirty percent, 40 percent, and fifty percent experiencing androgenetic alopia at all ages, respectively (Figures include both adults and adolescents). There are different kinds of androgens that cause hair loss. In men, testosterone and DHT (Dihydrotestosterone) are the major players; in women, estrogen and tyrosine. The main aim of minoxidil is to regulate the levels of these hormones to reduce androgenetic alopies, which is believed to be the cause of baldness in over half of men and almost a quarter of women.
Minoxidil has been in use since 1957. At that time, it was primarily used in the treatment of other medical conditions, including high blood pressure, hypertension, asthma, and depression. Minoxidil is available without prescription in the United States, though in certain countries, like Ireland and the United Kingdom, it requires a prescription from a medical doctor. It is not known to be safe or effective for treating hair loss due to any medical condition. Some studies show that the drug may reduce blood flow to the scalp, which may result in skin irritation and may even lead to an allergic reaction.
In cases where the hair loss is due to androgenic alopies, the most common options include the use of finasteride and a hair transplant. Finasteride is the only FDA approved medication for hair loss caused by androgenic alopies. However, finasteride can have some unpleasant side effects, including sexual dysfunction, thinning of the breasts, enlargement of the prostate, mood disorders, headaches, irritability, decreased libido, and headaches. Some patients also experience stomach pain, constipation, indigestion, nausea, and bloating.
Hair regrowth using minoxidil, on the other hand, does not require a prescription and is not associated with any serious side effects. Minoxidil is available without a prescription in the United States, although in some states, diflucan is required. Diflucan is known to cause severe liver damage in rare cases, so patients should speak to their primary care doctor before taking this treatment. Some studies show that hair loss caused by androgenetic alopropia can be reversed using minoxidil, but further research is needed to verify this claim.
For patients that are unsatisfied with their treatment or are concerned about side effects, another option is to turn to drug administration. Drug treatment is generally used as an additional method of hair loss treatment. Patients generally receive drugs through a prescription and follow up visits with a dermatologist every three months to six months. While drug administration is generally not necessary to stop hair loss, it does allow patients to maintain a consistent schedule. Drug treatment is typically recommended to patients undergoing treatment for other health conditions or with substance abuse problems.