Hair Loss is when one sheds an excessive amount of hair for a period of time. It happens as a result of hair follicles shrinking or dying, causing the hairs hosted in the affected follicles to come off. Causes vary greatly from genetics, to illnesses, prescription medications, stress, diet, and aging.
There is only one FDA-approved prescription pill in the market today, and it’s available only for men. It takes at least 6 months or more for it to show improvements on hair and it causes side effects like depression, decreased fertility, and more.
There is also one FDA-approved topical treatment for hair loss and is very convenient to use. However, hair loss is guaranteed to take place if use is discontinued.
This is reported to have high success rate amongst those who underwent the procedure, but it is extremely expensive, painful, and poses a risk of possible infection.
This is a completely painless treatment option. It is very safe because it will nourish your body with essential vitamins. However, results may take a long while, unless you find the most effective product.
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An effective prescription pill used in treating hair loss is finasteride, which is prescribed only to men. The most popular brand of this is the FDA-approved drug called Propecia that is mainly used for treating Androgenetic Alopecia in men (male pattern baldness). The mentioned type of hair loss is the most common hair loss condition that men experience.
Male pattern baldness (MPB) happens when hair follicles shrink because of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) sensitivity. This kind of sensitivity is usually passed on from generation to generation. When hair follicles shrink, they produce thinner and weaker hairs, and if the condition progresses, eventually, the affected follicles will no longer be able to produce hairs.
For a better understanding on how finasteride works, it would help for you to know how hair follicles shrink because of DHT. Males naturally have testosterones – a male androgen hormone. When testosterone enters the scalp and reacts with Type II 5-alpha reductase (a naturally-occurring enzyme found in the oil glands of follicles), they get converted to DHT.
People who are predisposed to DHT sensitivity will then experience hair follicles shrinking, both in length and in diameter. They could become so small that they would no longer be able to support new hair growth.
Finasteride is an inhibitor of the Type II 5-alpha reductase enzyme. Since the production of this enzyme gets blocked by the drug, testosterone will not convert to DHT. That means that even if someone is genetically conditioned to experience hair loss, as long as the production of DHT is minimized, the chance of a person experiencing MPB is significantly decreased.
Propecia is reported to block as much as 70% of the production of DHT and is able to do any of the following: slow down hair loss, reduce hair loss, or even facilitate hair regrowth. A study on the users of finasteride showed that after 5 years of using the pill, 90% of the men used in the study experienced either new hair growth or hair loss halt. The effects of this pill would take a minimum of one year to be considerably visible.
Despite the effectiveness of the treatment, a growing concern about its side effects has affected its users. In fact, Merck and Co., the manufacturer of Propecia, is facing impotence law suits. Apparently, it can affect the patient’s sexual desire and libido, and can decrease a man’s fertility. Aside from those, it also causes depression and prostate cancer. It is also dangerous for children, pregnant, and lactating women to get exposed to finasteride.
Even just a skin contact with the drug is risky because it can be easily absorbed by the skin and it causes lasting damages (like abnormal genitalia formation).In spite of the high rate of success in using finasteride for improving hair growth and stopping hair loss, the side effects it can bring are too dangerous. Global Hair Loss Association therefore recommends for hair loss sufferers to opt for other safer alternatives in treating hair loss.
There are a lot of topical products available in the market today to treat hair loss. However, to this date, only minoxidil is approved by the FDA. Rogaine is the best known brand for minoxidil. It has a liquid and a foam version. The liquid version is cheaper compared to the foam version, but the latter is usually preferred because it is so much easier and faster to use.
Minoxidil was originally used as an oral medication for regulating blood pressure. Eventually, users have noticed hair growth everywhere, and this paved way for the development of topical solutions for treating hair loss using minoxidil. Initially, Rogaine was a product that was available only as a prescribed medication for male patients. Today though, it has versions both for men and women and can be bought over-the-counter.
The question is: is it really effective in treating hair loss?
Although minoxidil does not block DHT production as what finasteride does, it does a good job in stimulating hair follicles into producing hairs. What it does is it widens blood vessels to help circulate more oxygen, blood, and nutrients to every follicle. This increase in nourishment makes way for healthier and stronger hair growth. The treatment would take a while to take effect though as it usually spans 4 to 6 months of usage before significant improvements are seen.
It is also important to note that there are two types of minoxidil concentration on topical solution products – the 2% and the 5%. The rate of success depends on what concentration an affected person is using. It was reported that 30% of men who used the 2% solution experienced decrease in hair loss and increase in hair growth. While 65% who used the 5% solution claimed success in the treatment.
It appears that using minoxidil, especially the 5% topical solution, can lead to higher chances of treating hair loss. However, if you are planning on choosing this treatment, be wary of the following:
Temporary Aggravation of Hair Loss – Initially, more hair shedding will occur to make way for new regrowth. This might discourage you in your hair loss treatment journey and might affect your confidence as it will worsen your condition. This will be temporary, but it might dishearten you to continue with the treatment.
Side Effects – It might also trigger unwanted facial hair growth. Factors like perspiration can cause the solution to be distributed to other parts of your head. As it triggers hair growth anywhere it is applied, unless you are extremely careful, you might see hair growth even in parts other than the scalp.
Not a Permanent Solution – You’d have to keep on using it to maintain hair growth. Once you stop, hair loss will recur.
Overall, while topical solutions (especially the FDA-approved minoxidil) has a good rate for success, the negative effects it gives to an already afflicted person might not be the best solution. Global Hair Loss Association has reservations in recommending treatments which are not completely safe.
For those who are considering undergoing through surgery to treat hair loss, it would be helpful for them to know that there are actually several kinds of hair restoration surgery procedures for them to choose from.
We’ll discuss three different kinds of hair restoration surgeries for your guidance: hair cloning (or hair multiplication), hair grafting (also known as hair transplantation), and hair follicle replication (sometimes known as scalp pigmentation).
Hair cloning is a newly-introduced procedure, but it has been reported to have promising results. It is done by extracting the patient’s healthy hair follicles from non-bald spots. Several culturing methods are used to ensure that the healthy follicles are multiplied in uniformity. Afterwards, the successful clones are injected back into the scalp of the patient.
These are then expected to produce new and healthy hair. Since our scalp is unable to produce new hair follicles as we grow old, this medical development is really a breakthrough. However, because it is still in the research stage, this procedure cannot yet be safely recommended.
On the other hand, most medical practitioners recommend hair grafting (hair transplantation). Although this can be a very painful procedure despite the use of anesthesia, it has the highest rate of success amongst all of the procedures if done correctly. The procedure is done by first identifying the “donor” and the “recipient” parts of the scalp. The donor portion is the part that is genetically resistant to balding, while the recipient parts will be the portions where hair loss is happening.
The procedure is very simple — grafts (a strip of scalp with one or a few hairs in healthy follicles) are harvested from the donor site, and then transplanted to the recipient site. Despite reported successes though, it is still a risky procedure to go through. It can result to swelling, infection, and initial shock loss making way for bald patches.
Lastly, there is hair follicle replication (or scalp micropigmentation), which is more of a cosmetic surgery than a restorative procedure. It is used to create the illusion of the existence of hair in receding hairlines and thinning areas by using special hair pigmentation. The appearance of hair follicles is imitated exactly as its color, shape, and size by injecting hair pigmentation inside the first layer of the scalp.
This makes it less invasive as the other forms of hair surgeries; however, it does not really treat hair loss nor does it stimulate follicles for new hair growth. It is helpful though in bringing back one’s self-confidence, but Global Hair Loss Association prefers to recommend a more natural, safe, and long-lasting treatment that really corrects and addresses the condition instead of just covering it aesthetically.
All of the discussed procedures have notable downsides. There are good success reports with them, but the fact remains that they are invasive, risky, and costly. For most cases, addressing the hair loss problem can just be a matter of supporting the body’s nutritional needs for hair growth, blocking the production of DHT (dihydrotestosterone) which accounts for most of the cases of hair loss, or treating underlying medical conditions.
It can therefore be concluded that invasive surgeries need not be necessary and that there are safer and more natural alternatives – especially the use of effective oral supplements formulated in treating hair loss.
The Global Hair Loss Association is dedicated to providing reliable educational resources to help improve the lives of all hair loss sufferers. By raising awareness through information, we aim to legitimize this condition to the media, to the medical community, and to our society as a serious and debilitating condition that needs attention and understanding. We endeavor to make the public recognize that hair loss is not just a condition that affects the physical appearance of a person, but one that can affect even the emotional and psychological well-being of the sufferer. Read more.
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