Minoxidil and Thinning Hair

Published: 07th May 2008
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When you study hair loss medication, you would probably run into the medicine called Minoxidil. This wonder topical solution is a hair replacement medication to solve thinning hair.

Currently, if you want to regrow hair, topical minoxidil is the only approved medication so far. Minoxidil was originally approved to treat high blood pressure. But it is also proven to cause hair regrowth. Nevertheless, no one is quite certain how minoxidil works to grow hair.

To be effective, minoxidil must be used twice a day. It works better on those who are younger and whose hair loss is recent, according to clinical studies by Pharmacia & Upjohn.

Those studies show that 26 percent of men between 18 and 49 reported moderate to dense hair regrowth after four months of Minoxidil (Rogaine) treatment. An additional 33 percent had minimal hair regrowth. Almost 20 percent of women between 18 and 45 had moderate regrowth, while an additional 40 percent showed minimal regrowth.

A company spokesman of Pharmacia & Upjohn said the research accounted for the fully pigmented hair fibers normally seen on the scalp and not vellus hair, which is more like peach fuzz. Many doctors, however, say the number of their patients who have as much success is much lower, and some find that only vellus hair appears.

One known advantage of using the medicine, according to Denise Cook, M.D., medical officer in FDA's division of dermatologic and dental drug products, is that patients report a decrease in shedding. This perception may be a result of fewer hairs being lost or more hairs being produced. The normal hair loss for a day should only be 100 hairs.

As much as Minoxidil can resolve hair loss, there are certain drawbacks to take note of. One possible side effect of minoxidil is an itchy scalp. Another drawback is that it must be used for life or any regrown hair will fall out. Also, only those people losing hair on the crown, not in front, are candidates for regrowth.

Researchers are optimistic that there will be more products to boost hair regrowth. One possible drug is the Proscar (finasteride). This drug is currently used to treat enlarged prostate glands. It's anti-androgen properties can be marketable as a hair-loss prescription. Theoretically, if a drug can be targeted to halt the conversion of testosterone to DHT in the scalp region only, it could stop hair from falling out. Experts foresee that the future may use combinations of medications to treat hair loss.

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