What is Maximum Medical therapy for hair loss?

People with hair loss, and certainly anyone even CONSIDERING hair transplant, may want to use a regimen of maximum medical therapy. This just means using a number of different medications that have different mechanisms of action to try to “cover all the bases”, so to speak. Attacking hair loss by targeting different aspects of the process is a way of using the synergy between various agents to maximize the effects.

Finasteride (Propecia and Proscar) is an agent that blocks the formation of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that has been implicated in male pattern baldness (androgenic alopecia). This is a first line drug for men with thinning hair or balding. It is not beneficial for women; in fact, it can cause birth defects if a woman is exposed to the drug and gets pregnant. It has few side effects in men and has been used for about 25 years with a good safety record.

Minoxidil (Rogaine and many generic versions) is topical, or placed directly on the scalp. Side effects are few, and it has a synergy when used with finasteride. This may be used in men and women, and is considered by many to be the drug of choice in women with hair loss.

There is some evidence that an anti-fungal shampoo containing ketoconozol (Nizoral) may help slow hair loss. It can be used twice a week and has the added effect of decreasing dandruff and itching of the scalp. There are also a variety of over the counter preparations (Hair Cycle products) and internet-marketed preparations that are available. Many of these contain minoxidil and other ingredients. Some of these are topical androgen (male hormone) blockers; there is little scientific proof of their effectiveness, but many men swear by them, and they may work for some.

The most important thing one can do with these latter agents is read and read some more. Information from sources other than the manufacturers is likely to be more objective and may help one with informed decisions.