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Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia (AGA), is very common. Two-thirds of American men have some noticeable hair loss by age 35 and about 85% of men have significantly thinning hair by 50. A quarter of men begin losing hair before age 21. The good news is that there are effective ways to stop hair loss.
Hair loss is chemical process. The enzyme 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT binds to hair follicle receptors and causes miniaturization. The hair follicles shrink, reducing the hair growth phase. Hair is not able to grow as long or thick, getting finer and shorter until the follicles are completely dormant and the area is bald.
It’s not a question of too much testosterone or DHT. Hair follicles are genetically sensitive to DHT.
This process can be slowed and sometimes even stopped altogether.
Here’s how to stop hair loss.
Do Hair Growth Pills Work?
Hair growth supplements are a growing trend but do they work? While vitamin deficiencies, especially iron and vitamin D, can contribute to hair shedding, there is no evidence proving that supplements can grow more or thicker hair.
Vitamin D stimulates hair growth, so insufficient vitamin D may slow or stop hair growth. Iron is required to produce hemoglobin in your blood. Hemoglobin carries oxygen for the growth and repair of cells in your body, including the cells that stimulate hair growth.
Hair loss due to vitamin D and iron deficiency is reversible. Vitamins and supplements may even help hair reach its full potential but because hair is a non-essential body part, it is last to benefit from vitamins. A healthy diet is adequate to support hair growth.
Genetic hair loss due to male pattern baldness is an entirely different process. Save your money and spend it on something that is proven to work.
How to Stop Hair Loss
All of the scientifically proven ways to stop hair loss are chemical. While some people report results from natural alternatives, there are no guarantees.
These hair loss products are most effective in the earliest phases of thinning hair and balding, so don’t waste any time.
Minoxidil, finasteride and ketoconazole are all clinically proven to reduce hair loss and can promote new growth for most men. These treatments can be used individually or even more effectively together. A 2011 Study by A. W. Rafi and R. M. Katz concluded that “Aggressively treating AGA achieves significant and rapid growth of new hair.”
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is a topical application that stimulates follicles to grow new and more hair. Finasteride (Propecia) attacks the cause of hair loss by decreasing DHT levels. Ketoconazole is an antifungal that cleanses the scalp and promotes hair growth.
Keep in mind that all of these treatments need to be continued to maintain results. Stopping minoxidil, finasteride or ketoconazole will cause hair loss.
The topical medication minoxidil, or Rogaine, could be the most popular hair regrowth product. Its ability to boost and regenerate the capacity for hair growth is backed by substantial evidence.
Minoxidil is actually an anti-hypertensive vasodilator medication that widens the blood vessels and increases blood flow. It was originally used as a blood pressure medication but had an unexpected side effect, hair growth.
Minoxidil is thought to work by shortening the shedding portion of the hair cycle (telogen) and prolonging the growth phase (anagen) as well as converting miniaturized hair follicles associated with age-related, genetic hair loss to thicker hairs.
While almost 90% of men experience hair regrowth after four months of using 5% Rogaine Foam, minoxidil is most effective on subjects with lots of hair, especially with many follicles in the thinning telogen phase. After 5 years of dormancy, hair growth is unlikely to be activated.
The best time to start is at the beginning or intermediate stages of balding, during the 20s or 30s. Any hair regrowth will disappear once minoxidil use is discontinued.
Stop hair loss with a pill a day? It sounds like a dream but it is a reality. The drug finasteride, sold under the brand names Propecia and Proscar, has been clinically proven to reduce scalp DHT, the main cause of hair loss, by up to 60%. Propecia works for 86% of men and is the top hair loss treatment recommended by the American Hair Loss Association.
Finasteride is one of the only treatments that works on the entire head. It has been proven to stop a receding hairline and hair loss at the temples. The prescription can be used at any phase of hair loss.
Drawbacks to preventing hair loss through oral medication are minimal. The cost of visiting a doctor to obtain a prescription is one. Then there is the price of the medication. Name brand Propecia is more expensive than the generic Proscar. Only 2% of users report negative side effects.
Ketoconazole is an anti-fungal drug. How does an anti-fungal stop hair loss? Ketoconazole effectively treats Pityriasis, a common scalp fungus, and may prevent hair loss by reducing inflammation from the fungus. Ketoconazole also appears to play a role in the inhibition of 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT.
A 1998 study showed similar improvements in hair density, size, and proportion of anagen follicles by both 2% ketoconazole and 2% minoxidil regimens.
Therefore, a ketoconazole shampoo is an effective addition to hair loss treatments, including minoxidil finasteride.
For hair loss products, it is added to shampoo or conditioner in a 1% or 2% concentration. Higher doses are available by prescription. The most popular brand name is Nizoral, a dandruff shampoo, but it is available in other dandruff and hair loss products.
Ketoconazole can be drying on the scalp so use according to manufacturer instructions. More use is not more effective. However, the 2% solutions are more effective in fighting hair loss than 1% solutions.