What are the Most Popular Treatments for Hair Loss?

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Minoxidil is one medical option for dealing with hair loss effectively.
Minoxidil is one medical option for dealing with hair loss effectively.

 

While some people take on hair loss with a smile and a prayer, others take the medical approach to dealing with their condition.

If you are one of the people who are seeking professional medical assistance, then you are firmly in the minority of people who suffer from hair loss conditions around the world.  Although there are no accurate figures on a global level for people suffering hair loss, we do know that there are only just over 800,000 seeking professional treatment.  When you consider that over 55million Americans suffer hair loss of some degree, you get an idea of how small a number that really is.[1]

You have probably already been down to your local beauty store and had a look at the products that can help with hair loss in the hair care section.  While most of these profess to deal with promoting hair growth, volume, and repair to varying degrees [2], often the only option left for many of us is to seek professional medical treatment.

While surgical procedures such as corticosteroid injections into our scalp, scalp reduction, and hair transplants are growing in popularity, many prefer non-invasive medical options that allow us to carry on with our lives as normal.  The only issue with non-invasive treatments for hair conditions, such as tablets and creams, is that treatment must continue indefinitely in almost all cases, or else hair loss will start again.

We explored the positive and negative sides of some of the most widely used hair loss medications, and tried to somehow come up with a definitive ‘best’ in the category.All of these are available in brand form from most retail outlets, but are also commonly prescribed for hair conditions by medical professionals.

If you are buying any of these yourself, be sure to take medical advice before using them, especially if you are already using another form of medication for an unrelated condition.

Rogaine (Minoxidil)

Although Rogaine is a well-known brand in the hair industry, rated number one by dermatologists [3] in the United States, the active ingredient, minoxidil [4], is only believed to promote hair growth in 30 – 40% of patients.

Medical professionals in severe cases may prescribe stronger variants of the chemical in a simple liquid form, rather than the foam you receive when you buy Rogaine in the store.  However, many doctors are reluctant to do this, especially as the drug is generally used for treating high blood pressure [5], and can have dangerous side effects if not taken correctly[6].

When using the Rogaine brand, the foam is applied to the scalp twice daily, with results often visible within four months,[7] although full regrowth of hair can take between eight and twelve.

Less severe side effects of using Rogaine or minoxidil include an itchy scalp and the accelerated growth of facial hair [8] which, although more common among men than women, is an understandable reason why females would not want to buy it.

Viviscal (AminoMarC)

Viviscal is another widely available brand that contains AminoMarC, which is a marine protein complex used within a supplement to promote healthy hair growth from within.  In recent years, this product has become a popular product in beauty stores, hair salons, and pharmacies across the world.

Most people will see visible results using Viviscal within three to four months, although the full course of treatment takes up to six.  After this time, it is recommended that patients continue to take the supplement in order to maintain their new hair growth.

Viviscal is the stand out product for many as it does not contain any medicinal drugs, and there are yet to be any reported side effects, even facial hair growth, from using these supplements.  Although the product is targeted predominantly at women, there is a specific range available aimed at men, and there is even an ‘extra strength’ variant for those looking to see bigger differences in a shorter period.[9]

One problem that Viviscal does have is that there is a lack of quality, in-depth scientific and clinical research, with those trails that have been conducted only using small samples of people.[10] For this reason, medical professionals will often shy away from prescribing Viviscal products directly.

Propecia (Finasteride)

This brand and medication is only to be taken by men, and as such will only be prescribed to males, although anyone can go into the store and buy it.  This treatment is usually in pill form, and is effective in most cases within eight months of commencing treatment.

Given the relatively long period of treatment to results, this is often used only as a last resort among men.  A lengthy list of side effects is enough to put off most men, too, with decreased sex drive, testicular pain, ejaculation disorders, and impotence among what one can expect when taking finasteride.[11]

Which Shall I Use?

At the end of the day, we are all different as individuals, and varying treatment schedules will work in various ways for all of us.

If we were to recommend one, however, then we would suggest men go for a combination of minoxidil and propecia treatments, but only on the recommendation of your doctor or hair loss consultant.  This combination can work well as propecia is predominantly powerful at arresting hair loss, while minoxidil is better for primarily promoting growth.  As noted, side effects in both of these treatments can be severe in some cases, so you should not head out and buy both products yourself without undergoing a consultation.

Propecia is ruled out for women, and while minoxidil treatments have more knowledge and science behind them, we would definitely recommend trying Viviscal.  Despite the lack of quality clinical testing, consumers in general have had enough success using the brand that we are confident it will make a difference to you.

Of course, your medical consultant may have something else in mind, but it never hurts to demonstrate that you have carried out your own research before attending an appointment and have formed your own ideas around treatments you feel will be most suitable and, importantly, which you will feel comfortable with using.

If you have decided to take the non-invasive medical approach to dealing with your hair loss, then the three products we have explored will probably come into your thinking at some stage.

Good luck with tackling your hair loss head on, within mere months you could have your natural look back and wonder why you were feeling so anxious about your condition.

Sources:

[1] http://www.statisticbrain.com/hair-loss-statistics/ (Accessed 31 January 2013)

[3] http://www.rogaine.com/home.do (Accessed 31 January 2013)