by Vladimire Herard

A nutritious diet, sufficient sleep, mild shampoos, especially medicated ones, certain drugs and hormones, not using hair relaxers and dyes or bleaches can assist men and women in avoiding hair loss, physicians and federal researchers say.

Around 50 million men and 30 million women nationally are afflicted with male pattern baldness or androgenic alopecia, the National Institutes of Health reports.

Such hair loss means the shrinking of follicles and new hairs growing finer and finer.

Potential Causes

Aging, a poor diet, environmental pollution, genetics, stress, thyroid issues and long-term illness, including cancer, and accompanying medical treatments such as surgery all factor into hair loss.

Hormonal activity from a hormone known as dihydrotestosterone or DHT as a derivative of testosterone in men and women or DHEA, a hormone found in women, is responsible for hair loss. DHT also occurs in the hair follicles, the prostate and skin.

Additionally, Harvard Medical School research finds that men with male pattern baldness have two times the risk of contracting prostate cancer than men without this severe, acute, long-term illness.

Coronary artery disease is also substantially higher among men with such hair loss.

Research is probing for connections between DHT and diabetes, metabolic syndrome and other health conditions.

Researchers say that the amount of testosterone or DHT does not lead to baldness but the sensitivity of the hair follicles, which is dictated by genes, does.

At the same time, men with male relatives with male pattern baldness can also develop the condition themselves.

Women can also undergo hair loss due to alopecia or female pattern hair loss or FPHL.

While women have significantly lower levels of testosterone than men, enough exists to cause hair loss. DHT also determines hair loss for women with these conditions.

Drugs, Shampoos, Topical Treatments As Solutions

An array of drugs, shampoos and topical treatments are on offer to assist men and women in remedying hair loss.

The most commonly known one is Propecia, approved by the FDA as a solution for  hair loss in men only.

Coming in the form of tablets, Propecia is administered to men with thinning crowns or baldness.

It is best used with other treatments such as shampoos and topical formulas to halt hair loss and boost the growth of fuller and thicker hair. Propecia is dispensed on a prescription basis only.

Another solution known as Finasteride also comes in tablet form by prescription. Unlike Propecia, Finasteride can also be taken as a topical preparation.

Finasteride slows down or stops hair loss. Patients can see effects in three months of daily use. If they stop, patients can see a reversal within a year.

Though some have sought to make Finasteride available to postmenopausal women, further research is needed to establish its safety and effectiveness for off-label use.

Physicians recommend consulting with them before taking any hair loss solution. Most especially, doctors warn against using either Finasteride or Propecia for pregnant women and harmful sexual side effects have been noted for both men and women.

Additionally, Rogaine is a topical treatment that deals with the blood vessels in the scalp to achieve hair re-growth. It is also known as a minoxidil treatment that can be bought over the counter unlike both Propecia and Finasteride.

Minoxidil also slows down hair loss and achieves regrowth at the crown of the head. It increases follicle size and number and increases blood flow to them to boost growth.

This solution or foam takes three to four months to work. If patients stop using it, newly-grown hair falls out within that amount of time.

Ketoconazole shampoo boosts hair growth, taking six months to exhibit desired results.

Additionally, other treatments that don’t involve testosterone or DHT have been known to work against hair loss. They include laser treatment or surgical hair follicle transplants.

In particular, research is being generated for dusasteride, also known commercially as Avodart, as a treatment for male pattern baldness, which is for off-label use. This is because it is being used to treat an enlarged prostate.

However, as effective as these treatments are, many of them come with side effects.

Propecia can cause diminished sex drive, a decrease in erections and in semen volume.

Finasteride can lead to decreased libido, permanent erectile dysfunction, breast enlargement, breast tenderness, testicular pain and depression. In fact, doctors do not recommend that finasteride be used by someone with a family history of prostate cancer.

Use of minoxidil can result in unusual facial and body hair and scalp itch, dryness or irritation. Other side effects are more serious such as chest pain, weight gain, rapid heartbeat, facial, hand, feet or stomach swelling or lightheadedness.

For ketoconazole shampoo, side effects include scalp blisters, dryness or irritation, hair texture changes. The more serious ones involve pain, redness or tenderness where the shampoo is applied.

Any treatment solution can trigger allergies. Patients are counseled to seek medical assistance if they experience itching, hives, rash, difficulty swallowing or lip or threat swelling.

Preventive Measures

However, physicians say it is possible to prevent hair loss in both men and women.  They caution patients to commit to the following:

  • Minimize your use of tight braids or heat-style tools like curling irons or straighteners daily to prevent hair damage and loss.


  • Use a solid brush to treat hair cuticles and lower the risk of breakage.


  • Consume foods rich in vitamins and minerals. Vegetables and herbs like parsley, basil and salad leaves and foods rich in protein like eggs, fish, nuts and white meat and vitamin A like spinach and sweet potatoes work best for hair maintenance.


  • Try mild shampoos whose ingredients like coconut oil fortify hair and not sulfates that dry or damage it.


  • Do not wash hair too often as doing so will lead to loss and damage.


  • Steer clear from bleaches and dyes with harsh chemicals that cause hair damage.


  • Experiment with low-level light therapy to regenerate hair cells.


SOURCES: publications online,propecia.html

  • Healthline publication online

  • National Library of Medicine

  • Science Direct publication online

  • WebMd publication online