Bearing in mind all causes of hair loss as discussed in my other articles, there are only two types of treatments are going to work, those which address the hormonal sensitivity, or treatments that stimulate growth despite it. And as it happens there are only two drug treatments approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for male baldness: Minoxidil and Finasteride. And we will begin by looking at Minoxidil today.
Minoxidil (more commonly known by its trade names Rogaine and Regaine) is a vasodilator medication which was first used exclusively as an oral drug to treat high blood pressure. However those using it will noticed an interesting side effect, namely increased growth and darkening of fine body hairs.
Seeing the potential of this Upjohn Corporation produced a topical solution that contained 2% minoxidil to be used to treat baldness and hair loss, under the brand name Rogaine in the United States and Canada, and Regaine in Europe and the Asia-Pacific. Treatments are available in 5% concentration solution for men and 2% concentration solutions for women.
How Minoxidil works is still not fully understood but studies have shown it is effective in preventing hair loss and may help attain some regrowth. One particular study in healthy males aged 18-50 years with male pattern baldness found that compared to a baseline of 103 to 106 hairs/cm2, those who applied of a 5% solution of minoxidil for 32 weeks increased their hair counts by an average of 39 hairs/cm2, in contrast to 5 hairs/cm2 in subjects who received a placebo.
It should be noted that Minoxidil has shown to be more effective in younger men (18 to 41 years of age) and has shown to work only in the central vertex are, so will not help those with a receding hairline.
As with most medicines some side affects should normally be expected however Minoxidil fares pretty well in this department.
The most common side effect of topical (i.e. external use) is in fact an itchy scalp, dandruff and hair loss. Yes you did read that correctly, hair loss is a common side effect of minoxidil treatment, however manufacturers and users say this is part of the shedding and regrowing effect. However there is no guarantee that the new hair loss will be replaced with hair growth. Regardless Minoxidil remains one of the most widely used treatment of balding in the world today. It is my personal recommendation for slowing down the balding process before you consider hair transplant.