If you are experiencing hair loss, you may have already paid a visit to your local pharmacy in search of a remedy. While there you might have found yourself in an aisle with shelf after shelf of creams, ointments, shampoos, sprays, fungicides, and vitamin or herbal supplements all claiming that they could stop your hair from thinning further. Some of them may have indicated they could even re-grow your missing hair.
In spite of what you may have seen on the pharmacy shelves, or on late-night infomercials, there are only two medications which have been FDA-approved, and which doctors routinely prescribe, as treatments for hair loss–minoxidil and finasteride. And of these, the more commonly prescribed is finasteride, in the pill form Propecia.
It is possible to stop hair loss with Propecia because male pattern baldness has been closely connected to an imbalance of the hormone dihydroxytestosterone, or DHT. DHT is created when the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme interacts with testosterone; researchers were able to stop hair loss with Propecia, which inhibited the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme and kept DHT from forming. In other works, they were able to stop hair loss with Propecia by intervening in the testosterone-enzyme-DHT cycle.
When Propecia was tested on a group of men suffering from mild or moderate androgenic alopecia, some of the men saw hair growth after only three months; and eventually 86% of them experienced re-growth of thinning hair. Over 90% of the men had no additional hair loss for the two years of the study, so the researchers had managed both to stop hair loss with Propecia and to re-grow hair in a majority of the study’s subjects.
While attempting to stop hair loss with Propecia has produced minor sexual side effects in less than 2% of the men using it, Propecia is considered safe for adult men. Women, however, should not try to stop hair loss with Propecia; it is known to cause birth defects.
It is also not suitable for young children because it can lead to abnormal sexual development.
Because the longest study done to stop hair loss with Propecia only lasted two years, the long term effects of using Propecia are know yet known. But those who have decided to stop hair loss with Propecia must consider it a permanent part of their hair care regimen; those who discontinue it will have a recurrence of their hair loss. Propecia, fortunately, is taken in pill form once a day and does not require the application of messy creams or ointments.
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