No one can look like their 20-year old self for the rest of their lives. Eventually, the tell-tale signs of aging appear: wrinkles, aching joints, and thinning hair. Thinning hair or hair loss is a common indication that you are growing older, but not many people do anything about it. People may avoid taking action because they don’t know their options. Luckily, hair loss specialists continue to produce new and effective hair restoration techniques.
One of the most talked about techniques on the market is finasteride, a pill which is commonly called Propecia. However, you need to know the basics of hair loss before you learn how to treat it.
Causes of hair loss
Most hair loss problems are temporary and can be reversed with the right treatment process. Hair loss is caused by a variety of things:
- A shock to your system (such as a car accident, a family death, or a disturbance in metabolism)
- Hormonal imbalances or changes that occur due to menopause
- Excessive or incorrect use of hair treatments (such as dying, straightening, or bleaching)
- Bad nutrition
- Medication or illness side effects
Your doctor can help you to reverse this type of hair loss fairly easily. Permanent hair loss, however, is not as easy to reverse or treat.
Male and female pattern baldness is permanent and incurable. Males may notice receding hairlines or thinning at the crown with this type of hair loss; women may experience thinning hair at the scalp.
While doctors don’t know all of the details about male and female pattern baldness, they believe it to be a genetic problem. Currently, patients have two treatment options: surgical hair restoration or non-surgical hair restoration. The latter typically involves medication, one of which is the FDA-approved finasteride.
Finasteride’s role in hair restoration
Finasteride as a hair restoration medication came about by accident. Julianne Imperato-McGinley completed a study ofCaribbeanchildren in 1974. She researched the causes of hermaphroditic children and found that one of the causes was lower DHT than the average person. DHT is short for dihydrostetosterone, which as a male hormone related to the prostate.
Doctors believe that hair loss happens because the genetically predisposed hair follicles’ sensitivity to DHT. When this happens, hair follicles shrink, experience shorter lifespans, and are unable to produce hair normally.
Finasteride stops the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. If you have reduced levels of DHT, your hair follicles can produce healthy, normal hair.
Success rates of finasteride
Finasteride proves to be a successful hair restoration medication. In one five-year study, two out of three men using finasteride exhibited noticeable hair growth.
Downside of finasteride
Because finasteride is known to cause birth defects in fetuses, pregnant or breastfeeding women should not handle the finasteride tablets. In addition, finasteride needs to be taken daily. When you stop taking it, hair loss will recommence within six months to one year.
While finasteride does have some negative aspects, it seems to be an effective hair restoration product. It is completely painless and non-invasive, both of which hair restoration surgery cannot boast about. If you think this may be for you, talk to your regular doctor or seek out a hair loss specialist to discuss the details.
Dr. Ellie Habben works for Haarklinikken, a clinic specializing in hair restoration in Tampa. She helps patients with surgical and non-surgical hair restoration, including the use of FDA approved medication and plant extracts.