If you are serious about slowing your hair loss as you age and you don’t have thousands of dollars or time to waste then you should know…..
there are the only two drugs that have been approved by the FDA for hair loss, because they are the only two drugs that have been proven to stop hair loss and regrow new hair, however there are a further two more things that can be done to increase their effectiveness for faster results.
The Two FDA Approved Hair Loss Treatments
Minoxidil is the first FDA approved product, it is an over the counter topical treatment for hair loss and has been around since the 1980’s. It is effective for stopping hair loss and promotes hair growth in about 40% of men and extremely successful with about 80% of females experiencing regrowth.
Minoxidil was originally developed to treat hypertension but the topical application was later shown to stimulate hair growth.
How does it work?
Hair grows in three phases, anagen, catagen and telogen. Anagen is the growth phase which lasts up to 6 years, the hair follicle then enters catagen which is a transitional phase and finally telogen, the phase in which it falls out and goes into a resting period for about 3 month before the cycle starts again.
Minoxidil reactivates hair that are in the resting phase causing them to regrow and it also increases the length of the growth phases preventing the hair from falling out.
How to use it?
Almost all minoxidil products come with a 1ml dropper.
Apply 1ml of the 5% solution directly to a dry scalp and gently message, moving from the crown area to the forehead.
Most people see results after 4 months. You should also expect to see a slight increase in hair loss due to old thinner hair being replaced by new thicker hair.
The biggest problem with minoxidil is that its effects are not permanent and hair loss will resume after a few months of stopping the product.
Tips for Better Use
5% vs 2% minoxidil solution. The stronger 5% solution has generally proven to generate more hair growth with some studies reporting up to 45% more hair regrowth with the 5% solution.
Do not use higher amounts of minoxidil as most studies have shown that strengths above 5% have minimal additional benefits but substantially higher adverse effects that include scalp irritation, dryness and dandruff.
Avoid using other hair products for at least 20-30 minutes after applying the minoxidil solution.
The second product that is FDA approved for hair loss is finasteride. Finasteride was developed for men and should not be used by women. It was approved in the 1998 for male pattern hair loss.
Finasteride is a prescription drug and must be prescribed by a physician. Recent media reported that President Donald Trump’s doctor revealed that he uses a prescription drug to maintain his signature hair. The exact drug was not named but it is most probably finasteride.
How does it work?
Finasteride works by blocking the production of DHT, a by-product of testosterone that is responsible for male pattern hair loss. DHT is a hormone that causes hair loss by shrinking the hair follicle and preventing it from re-growing.
Finasteride has been proven to stop hair loss and regrow hair on about 88% of men. It can really generate some amazing results with hair regrowth.
How to use it?
Finasteride is available as a 1mg tablet and taken once daily and you should take the drug for a minimum of 6 months to see its full effect, taking it for a shorter period is a waste of time.
Finasteride has gained a lot of attention for its reported side effect of causing decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. These sexual side effects experienced with finasteride have been exaggerated. Most studies show a low incidence of less than 1% of men experiencing sexual side effects and these effects are completely reversed when the drug is stopped.
The excellent results seen with finasteride override the minimal percentage of people that experience these side effects. To decrease some side effects, try gradually increasing the dosage, by starting with finasteride twice weekly only then add on an extra day every week until you get to the full daily dosage. Please consult your physician for further details.
Just like minoxidil, finasteride is not a permanent hair loss solution. You will start losing hair after a few months of stopping finasteride.
Two Methods to Double the Effectiveness of Minoxidil and Finasteride
These drugs are great on their own but there are two things we can do to boost their effectiveness for even faster hair regrowth.
1. Add in Ketoconazole Shampoo
Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal drug that is used to treat fungal infections. However, it is mostly prescribed for dandruff and is available in most dandruff shampoos. Later on it was discovered that ketoconazole was quite effective at blocking DHT from attaching itself to hair follicles and this prevented DHT from killing the hair follicle.
This effect of ketoconazole highlighted it as a potential hair loss product. In addition to its DHT blocking effect, ketoconazole also reduces the production of sebum on the scalp. Sebum is known to block hair follicles from growing. Furthermore, ketoconazole also has a mild anti-inflammatory effect and this helps with assisting hair growth.
Shampooing with ketoconazole shampoo can increase the effectiveness of finasteride by almost 50% and it also shows improved hair growth when used in combination with minoxidil.
When using a ketoconazole shampoo, it is important to leave it on for at least 5-10 minutes before washing it out. This gives the treatment sufficient time to be absorbed into the scalp.
2. Combination Therapy
When we use both minoxidil and finasteride in combination we see some truly amazing results. A 2002 study showed that the combination of the two treatments generates almost double the effectiveness of using them on their own.
From this we can further extrapolate that adding ketoconazole as a third component to this combination therapy will further enhance its effectiveness to stop hair loss and regrow hair.
The most effective treatment for hair loss in men:
- Shampoo daily with 2% ketoconazole shampoo
- Apply 5% minoxidil solution twice daily
- Take 1mg finasteride tablets once daily
- Consult above regimen with physician before starting
The most effective treatment for women:
- The same as above excluding the finasteride tablets
There are so many products out there for hair loss, but there are only a few that are safe and effective. The FDA is a well-respected body and it is wise to use their recommendations. Consult your physician to discuss further.