Alopecia or baldness is a condition that affects millions of men and women around the world. This condition refers to general hair loss. The hair loss could be a partial or complete lack of hair growth. The baldness pattern and degree of baldness will vary from patient to patient. Although alopecia remains incurable, there are medications that could restore hair growth or slow down the progression of this condition. The treatments will depend on the gender of the patient. Below are the most effective drugs for male and female baldness:
Treatments for Male Pattern Baldness
Finasteride is the generic name for drugs Proscar and Propecia. Initially, Finasteride was developed as a treatment for enlarged prostate (Propecia). But during the trials, one of the surprising side effects of the drug is hair regrowth. As such, finasteride was later marketed as a hair regrowth drug for men. This drug is one of the first FDA-approved drugs for male pattern baldness.
Finasteride works by suppressing the enzyme Type II 5-alpha-reductace. This enzyme converts testosterone into androgen dihydrotestosterone or DHT. DHT shrinks the hair follicles, leading to baldness. According to tests results, a dose of finasteride lowers DHT levels by as much as 60% as long as the drug is taken daily.
Minoxidil is the first FDA-approved drug for male pattern baldness. This medication was initially marketed as a treatment for hypertension. And just like finasteride, its side effects include hair regrowth. Minoxidil is applied topically on the affected area to facilitate hair regrowth. Although minoxidil is deemed effective in boosting hair regrowth, the effects are not permanent. As explained by scientists, the drug does not affect the hormonal process of hair loss. Once you stop taking Minoxidil, hair will start thinning again.
Treatments for Female Pattern Baldness
Spironolactone is the generic name of the drug Aldactone. This medication was used to treat high blood pressure and edema but was later marketed as a hair loss treatment for women. Spironolactone is a type of anti-androgen that slows down the production of androgens in the adrenal glands and ovaries. The drug also blocks the action of androgens to prevent dihydrotestosterone from binding to androgenetic receptors. By inhibiting the binding of dihydrotestosterone to the follicle receptors sites, hair becomes fuller.
Cimetidine is the generic name of the drug Tagamet. The drug is a histamine blocker and was marketed as a treatment for gastrointestinal ulcers. However, Cimetidine’s potent anti-androgenic effects made it an effective treatment for female baldness too. This drug can be used to correct excess facial hair and restore hair growth caused by androgenic alopecia. Because of its feminizing side effects, this drug is recommended only for women.
Cyproterone acetate is used to treat sex addiction in men. It reduces sex drive and reduces pronounced sexual aggression. In women of childbearing age, this drug is used to treat severe hirsutism. Cyproterone acetate is also used to treat androgenetic alopecia in women. The drug has the ability to block the binding of DHT dihydrotestosterone to its receptors. However, because of its many side effects and possible toxicity, cyproterone acetate is considered as a last resort treatment for female pattern hair loss.