8 Common Medicines Treating Men's Hair Loss

1. Minoxidil (Rogaine) - Approved By The FDA For Male

Clinical tests on the effectiveness of topical minoxidil in men with baldness on the top of the head showed that 48% of men who had used minoxidil for one year reported moderate to dense re-growth of hair within the treated area, 36% reported minimal re-growth while 16% reported no re-growth. It has been shown to have a direct mitogenic effect on epidermal cells.

2. Finasteride (Propecia) - Approved By The FDA For Male

The 1mg dose of Finasteride is the first pill approved by the FDA to treat Androgenetic Alopecia on the top of the head and mid-scalp areas only for men. To date, Propecia has the longest, most successful run of any treatment to have undergone FDA trials. FDA trials on 1,500 men yielded shocking results. Nearly 83% of men who continued treatment for 2 years either saw a complete stop of hair loss, an increase in hair growth, or both. Results were confirmed by actual hair counts and nearly 80% of men were categorized by visual assessments that their appearance had improved. However, the most frequently reported adverse reactions to Propecia affect men's sexual health especially for younger men. Clinical tests show that 1.3% reported erectile dysfunction.

8 Common Medicines Treating Men's Hair Loss

3. Antiandrogens

The hair loss in eunuchs induced by exogenous testosterone halted when testosterone treatment was discontinued. This leads to the assumption that it would be feasible to use an Antiandrogen to halt or even reverse pattern baldness in men and equally in women too. However, antiandrogen therapy for androgen-induced baldness is still in its infancy and relatively limited information is available on how it can be used and the appropriate formulations for use.

4. Ketoconazole Shampoo

It is a popular treatment in combination with other treatments for pattern baldness.

Ketoconazole (Nizoral) is actually a synthetic antifungal drug used to prevent and treat skin and fungal infections, especially in immuno-compromised patients. This drug, an Imidazole (an organic crystalline base that is an inhibitor of histamine) derivative, is an effective oral agent that has broad-spectrum antifungal activity and is also a steroid biosynthesis inhibitor. The androgen lowering potential of high doses of Ketoconazole has led to its use in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer.

Formulated as a topical treatment, oral tablet and as a shampoo, the drug Ketoconazole is available by prescription. Branded Nizoral shampoo contains 2 percent Ketoconazole and is prescribed not only for the treatment of infectious fungal scalp conditions, but also in combination with other treatments for androgenetic alopecia. Ketoconazole can cause a reduction in the production of testosterone and other androgens in the skin. A 1 percent version is available over-the-counter, but it may not be as effective as the 2 percent prescription strength.

5. Tretinoin (Retin-A)

Tretinoin essentially is a derivative of vitamin A which regulates the growth and differentiation of epithelial cells.

Topical Tretinoin can be used to help enhance the effects on Minoxidil for the treatment of hair loss. Although Tretinoin alone does not act as a significant stimulant of hair growth, there is some evidence that a combination of Minoxidil (0.5%) and Tretinoin (0.025%) promotes hair growth in men with androgenetic alopecia. This is most likely due to the increased absorption of Minoxidil through alteration of the horny outer layer of the epidermis, the stratum cornum.

However, the manufactured formulations of Tretinoin (Retin-A) and Minoxidil (Rogaine) are incompatible and become ineffective if compounded in one formulation. They must either be mixed using generic powder forms or be applied as separate treatments. For efficacy, Rogaine must be applied every morning and night and Retin-A during the day. Even though there appears to be some benefit in using the combination, the need for an extra application during the day is generally considered to be rather inconvenient, discouraging wide acceptability.

The potential side effects of topical Tretinoin are irritation and photosensitivity. As Tretinoin does not work alone, the potential side effects of Minoxidil should also be considered when administering treatment. Concerns about increased irritation, possible systemic absorption of drug, and difficulties related to the use of both agents together has led to the limited usage of this line of treatment.

6. Diazoxide

Diazoxide is a nondiuretic benzothiazide.

Taking advantage of the hypertrichotic side effects of Diazoxide, several authors have examined the effect of topical application of the drug on hair re-growth in androgenetic alopecia. A topical formulation of diazoxide was reported in 1989 to show efficacy in male pattern baldness. Nineteen men with "early to midstage" androgenetic alopecia were treated with 3% diazoxide solution twice daily for 2 to 11 months. Reports indicate that four men had a dense growth of new hair, seven had moderate growth by way of some new terminal hairs, one had vellus hair growth, and seven had no re-growth at all.

8 Common Medicines Treating Men's Alopecia

7. Estrogen

Estrogens are indirect anti androgens, increasing the production of sex hormone binding globulin (SHBG) and thus leading to a decrease in the bioactive free testosterone.

Extensive clinical trials of the use of a topical estrogen preparation in subjects with androgenetic alopecia have been not been conducted as yet. However, one double-blind, controlled, 6-month trial of topical 0.025% 17 alpha - estradiol conducted with 51 men and women who had pattern alopecia showed a significant reduction in the percentage of telogen hairs along with stabilization of the hair loss. Although more than 70 percent of a topically applied preparation is metabolized to weak non-androgenic by-products, the absorption of topical estrogen can lead to decreased libido in men.

Topical estrogens are not generally available in North America, but they are being used in Europe and topical estrogen products are available from a number of pharmaceutical companies there. There seems to be some confusion over which estrogen formulation is best (as there are different types of estrogen) but it seems that estrogen application topically could help treat pattern baldness in both men and women.

8. Progesterone

Topical progesterone has been utilized widely, but has not been thoroughly tested in clinical studies. One study undertaken to ascertain the efficacy of the compound used topical progesterone (concentration and vehicle unnamed) for 10 to 48 months in 12 men, in the age group 18 to 39 years, with male pattern baldness. None of the subjects grew hair: 6 of them developed further thinning, and the other 6 had the same hair density.

Overall, topical progesterone has not been found to be of great value in treating androgenetic alopecia, but it can have a limited positive effect for some people.