a man examines his hair line for hair loss

Hair Loss Treatments

Americans spend billions of dollars a year on hair loss treatments, nearly all of which are ineffective.

Dealing with hair loss can be frustrating, embarrassing, and disheartening, regardless of gender. While there are effective treatments, very few things can guarantee a return of your original hair density. Some things may help, but the battle will almost certainly be lifelong. What works is often different for men than for women, and it’s important to consider all of your options to figure out which one will work best for you. 

Treatments for Men

Minoxidil may also work for male-pattern baldness, although it seems to be more effective in women. It not only slows hair loss, but also promotes new hair growth. However, again, since it has little effect on the hormonal or genetic reasons for hair loss, it is a symptomatic treatment that often winds up being ineffective or effective only in the short term. 

Finasteride is another medication recommended for men dealing with hair loss. It prevents the enzyme that turns testosterone into androgen dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is what often causes hair loss in men by shrinking hair follicles. As such, finasteride reduces DHT production by 60%, which halted hair loss in over 80% of men and encouraged growth in more than half, according to the American Hair Loss Association. 

Treatments for Women

Hair loss in women is often caused by excessive production of androgen. While there are prescriptions that can help normalize these levels, they are few and not always effective. Doctors are often hesitant to prescribe them, because if the problem is not in fact too much androgen, taking these medications can can alter the body’s natural ability to produce it. 

For this reason, alternative methods are often recommended. Minoxidil is a topical treatment applied directly to the scalp. However, studies show that less than a quarter of women notice an increase in hair growth. Additionally, once you stop using the treatment, hair loss tends to set in again. 

Alternative Treatments

Both men and women can benefit with alternative methods of treating hair loss. Some people find great success in surgeries, although these do not always achieve the natural look desired. If there is male- or female-pattern baldness in your family, it may be wise to act preventatively. Thyroid disorders may cause hair loss in some people, who find relief simply from finding a medication that adjusts their thyroid, and thus metabolism, accordingly. Additionally, some medications can cause hair loss. While you may not recover the hair that’s been lost from taking such prescriptions, hair loss will usually at least stop with the cessation of the medication. 

Last Updated: June 15, 2017