No matter your age or gender, coping with hair loss can be frustrating. There are many hair loss products available in the market which can add to the overwhelm. Also, seeing a dermatologist or hair loss specialist can be expensive.
Fortunately, there are different types of hair loss and treatment options can vary accordingly.
Medications are available to treat hair loss in both men and women. Many are designed to slow hair loss, stimulate new hair growth, or both.
To simplify your options, we’re going to take a deep dive into the best hair loss medications, their effectiveness, and their side effects.
Hair loss medications consist of oral pills and topical formulas. They include prescription and over-the-counter options.
When you think of hair loss medications, the brand name Rogaine may come to mind. The active ingredient in Rogaine is minoxidil, a non-prescription hair loss medication available over the counter.
Minoxidil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for androgenic alopecia and hair loss in women. But it is used off label for a variety of hair loss conditions. A
Although Rogaine is a popular and common brand of minoxidil products, it is not the only option. Minoxidil is available in a variety of over-the-counter hair loss products that are applied topically.
Minoxidil formulas typically consist of liquids, foams, and shampoos. In studies, minoxidil has been applied to completely dry hair. Most manufacturers suggest applying it to towel-dried or dry hair.
It can take at least 4 months to see results.
Finasteride is a hair loss medication for men. It is a prescription drug that is taken orally. It is also available in a few prescription products that are applied topically.
This hair loss medication can be used to treat androgenic alopecia and male pattern hair loss. A
Some medications used for hair loss are actually medications for other health conditions. Spironolactone is a diuretic pill used to treat high blood pressure, and it can also be used off-label as a treatment for hair loss in women. It is a prescription drug taken orally. Aldactone is a brand of medication containing spironolactone, but generic versions are also available.
When it comes to hair loss, spironolactone is specifically used for women because it targets certain hormones.
Dutasteride is an oral prescription medication used to treat an enlarged prostate in men. It may also be a treatment option for men with androgenic alopecia.
It works the same way as finasteride, so it should not be taken by women.
Hair loss medications work by reducing hair loss or stimulating new hair growth. Topical and oral products work in different ways.
- Minoxidil. This drug works, in part, by shortening the resting phase of the hair growth cycle and moving the hair into the active growth phase. However, the exact mechanism by which minoxidil works is still not fully understood.
- Finasteride. This medication works by blocking the action of an enzyme that converts the hormone testosterone into another hormone, dihydrotestosterone, which causes hair loss in men.
- Spironolactone. This medication works by slowing down male hormones called androgens, including testosterone. It slows hair loss due to androgenic alopecia and helps hair regrowth in women.
- Dutasteride. This drug works much like finasteride. It inhibits the enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.
When using topical products or taking medications by mouth, there may be side effects or possible interactions. If you are concerned about certain side effects or want to know if you can take hair loss medication with other medications, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Side effects of topical hair loss treatments like minoxidil can include:
- darkening of body hair
- body hair growth
- irritation and dermatitis on the scalp
Hair loss medications for men, such as finasteride and dutasteride, can have sexual health-related side effects, such as:
- low libido
- difficulty getting an erection and ejaculating
- increase in breast size
Side effects of spironolactone may include:
Spironolactone may also be associated with problems with fetal development. Avoid getting pregnant while taking it.
If you experience any side effects while taking hair loss medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
The most accessible hair loss treatments are those based on minoxidil. Brands like Rogaine are widely available over the counter at pharmacies and online retailers.
Prescription drugs used to treat hair loss – finasteride, spironolactone and dutasteride – are more accessible with subscription-based telehealth platforms like Hims, Keeps and Roman.
Hims is a telemedicine company that offers treatments for a variety of health conditions, including male pattern hair loss.
Over-the-counter products, such as minoxidil foams and solutions, are available to everyone.
If you are interested in prescription products, such as oral finasteride, Hims can connect you with a healthcare professional from your home.
The cost of Hims varies greatly. A 3 month supply of some of their most popular hair loss products is priced at $195.
Keeps uses a subscription model to send hair loss treatments to your doorstep.
They offer prescriptions for oral finasteride and topical ketoconazole, an antifungal medication sometimes used to treat hair loss.
Keeps product cost between $30 and $120 for a 3 month supply. Your first 3 months are usually reduced. Your first consultation is free and additional annual consultations are $5 each.
Roman is a telemedicine company for male health issues such as erectile dysfunction and hair loss. Their hair loss deals include finasteride and minoxidil products starting at $20 and $16 per month, respectively.
For treatments requiring a prescription, you will have direct access to a team of healthcare professionals.
Certain at-home strategies and lifestyle changes can help minimize hair loss.
Certain vitamins and supplements may be helpful. Vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins and vitamin D are all beneficial for healthy hair. Iron and zinc can also stop hair loss.
A high protein diet may be recommended. Hair is made up of protein, so getting enough protein in your diet is important for hair growth.
Other professional treatments include laser devices and microneedling. Steroid injections, hair transplants, and platelet-rich plasma procedures may be options to consider, although these are more common treatments for inflammatory hair loss.
Contact a doctor immediately if you notice sudden hair loss.
Connecting with a doctor as soon as you see the first signs of hair loss can lead to an early diagnosis. From there, you can start the recommended treatment before the hair loss gets worse.
What would a dermatologist prescribe for hair loss?
A dermatologist may recommend topical minoxidil, which is also available over the counter. A doctor can also prescribe oral finasteride for men. These medications are approved by the FDA for certain conditions that cause hair loss. Other prescription medications may be available as off-label uses for hair loss.
Can biotin help with hair loss?
Biotin, or vitamin B7, is a commonly used supplement for hair, skin, and nails. Biotin can help improve hair thickness and overall hair quality.
What vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause hair loss?
Hair loss can be a side effect of certain nutritional deficiencies. Low levels of vitamin D, selenium, zinc and iron can lead to hair loss. Excessive supplementation of certain nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and selenium, can also lead to hair loss.
Your appearance, and therefore your hair, can be a source of confidence. When you notice the signs of hair loss, your confidence can waver. If you are suffering from hair loss, you are not alone.
Many people experience hair loss at some point in their lives and there are many treatments available. Medications have proven to be an effective treatment option for hair loss. Many are easy to find through online telemedicine services.
Lacey Muinos is a health, wellness, and beauty writer based in Southern California. She holds a BA in English. His work has appeared in digital publications such as Livestrong, Verywell, Business Insider, Eat This Not That and others. When she’s not writing, Lacey likely pursues her other interests: skincare, plant-based cooking, pilates, and travel. You can follow her by visiting herwebsite or herBlog.