Does Minoxidil or Finasteride (Propecia) Work?
The cause of hair loss is still unknown. There only exists different hypotheses and genetic cause is accepted as the strongest theory among many others. However, there is still no known mechanism or medical treatment for hair loss. The situation is the same for most of the medications known for hair growth. They help prevent further loss and therefore improve the condition temporarily but that is about all it can do. Once treatment is stopped hair loss will progress again.
Currently, the most well known medication is minoxidil. It was originally used for lowering blood pressure and as a side effect hair growth was seen and thus made into a topical medicine for hair growth. Once ingested, it can affect the body systematically and can lower the blood pressure so when used for hair growth it is used topically. Minoxidil is considered safe with low dosage and local application but you need to monitor your blood pressure periodically
One research states that about 50% of the users saw positive results from using minoxidil but it can never be predicted who is going to see a good result or not.
However, in general, the younger patients will see better results, as well as those who start the treatment earlier and those with smaller problem areas. It is recommended to use minoxidil for at least 3~4 months until you see results and you should continue using it to retain the new hair. . Once you stop using minoxidil, hair loss starts again.
The second most used medication is Finasteride (also known as proscar/propecia). It is a type II 5α-reductase inhibitor. It was originally used for prostate treatment, and hair growth was one of its side effects. Now it is being used widely among men for male pattern baldness. Fertile women should stay away from this medication because it is harmful for the fetus. Even touching the pill can affect the fetus development.
Beside these medications, there are many other products for hair loss prevention. Although these are not medically proven, some of them might be helpful for the hair loss while some are not. At this point it is hard to say which one is better than the other and the choice is up to you. However be very careful trying these products because some can cause serious side effects.
What would be the best approach if these medications are temporary fixes? Most importantly, your life style has to be corrected. Know what is causing your hair loss and what is accelerating the condition. Then fix those bad habits and eat hair healthy foods. Getting the proper diagnosis and treatment will help stop hair loss and allow weak hair follicles to recover.