Tag Archive for: Cortisone

Is There a Genetic Test that Can Predict Hair Loss?

Nowadays, there’s a genetic test for just about everything.  Even to determine our dog’s lineage.   Just one quick saliva sample or blood test and, within days, you can find out if you’re destined for cancer, diabetes, or heart disease.  There’s even a DNA test to determine whether you’re likely to experience anxiety.  

Suppose a genetic test can give you accurate information to guide your health care plan and prevent future disease.  Can it also accurately predict whether you’re predisposed to losing your hair?  If a genetic test shows that you are likely to inherit your Great Uncle Bernie or Aunt Bonnie’s hairline, is there a way to ensure that you don’t follow in their footsteps?  Are genetic hair tests reliable?  Do dermatologists use DNA tests to help make diagnoses? Before you click “Buy Now” to order a genetic test kit, keep reading.  We’re here to answer your questions about genetic testing for male and female pattern baldness.

Can Alopecia Really be Inherited?

When people hear the word “alopecia,” they often think of hair loss caused by a medical condition.  Types of alopecia such as alopecia areata and lichen planopilaris are caused by autoimmune conditions.  Androgenetic alopecia, however, is a type of alopecia that is inherited.  It’s the most common type of alopecia.  As many as 80 percent of all men will experience male pattern baldness in their lifetime. (01)  In addition, many women experience female pattern baldness, usually around menopause.  

What’s the Link Between Genetics and Pattern Baldness?

A study conducted on twins confirms what we’ve long suspected.  Male and female pattern baldness have a genetic component. (02)  About 79 percent of men who were balding in the study could attribute their hair loss to their genes.  But, there’s a catch.  Researchers are still working to fully understand which genes are affected.  We’re still learning.  Here’s what we do know.  There are 63 genes that could potentially cause baldness.  Six of those are associated with the X chromosome, where the Androgen Receptors (AR) are found.  It’s also possible that not one isolated gene is the culprit.  Several genes working together may be to blame.

Can You Take a DNA Test to Determine Whether You Will Go Bald?

Ads make genetic testing very tempting, especially if your Mom or Dad starts losing their hair in their 20s.  It would be nice to know whether you will lose your hair too.  But, unfortunately, we’re not quite there yet.  As mentioned previously, there are still too many unanswered questions about which genes are involved and how the genetic process affects your locks. Also, false positives are not unusual with genetic testing.  You don’t want a test to tell you that you’ll experience androgenetic alopecia if that isn’t really the case. (03)

How do you Know if the Type of Alopecia You Have is Genetic?

When men and women experience androgenetic alopecia, they see specific hair loss patterns.  The first sign for men is usually a receding hairline.  The hair loss then progresses to the top, creating a horseshoe pattern above your ears that circles around to the back of your head.  Female pattern hair loss typically presents differently.  Women usually notice thinning on the top and crown.  Often, women will notice a widening of the center part.  Many other conditions cause hair loss besides androgenetic alopecia.  If you think your hair loss is genetic, be sure to have your dermatologist confirm your findings.  Early diagnosis is key to preventing further hair loss and to stimulating new growth.  You also want to make sure you’re addressing the right condition with the right treatment.  

Do Dermatologists Use Genetic Testing to Diagnose Male and Female Pattern Baldness?

The truth is that dermatologists don’t need high-tech tests to determine whether or not patients have androgenetic alopecia.  Most of the time, they can tell from your hair’s appearance and your hair loss pattern.  If there is any doubt, he or she may use a densitometer to magnify your hair follicles to see if miniaturization is occurring.  Miniaturization is when the hair follicles shrink, causing existing hair to fall out and preventing new growth.  Your dermatologist may order a biopsy and blood test to rule out other causes. Patients often ask about the benefits of running a hair analysis based on what they hear about on social media.   Hair analysis is not used to diagnose male or female pattern baldness.  Instead, it’s used to determine whether there’s lead, arsenic, or another substance causing your hair loss.  

What Can You Do to Treat Hair Loss Caused by Genetics?

Treatment for male or female pattern baldness is designed to meet two goals.  The first is to stop the progression of your hair loss.  The second is to promote new hair growth.   The best way to accomplish those two goals is by using a combination of medications simultaneously.  Here are medications often included in treatment plans for androgenetic alopecia:

  • Minoxidil topical foam – A vasodilator that enlarges the hair follicles
  • Finasteride, Dutasteride, or Spironolactone  – Prevents testosterone from converting to DHT that attacks the hair follicles and causes hair loss
  • Topical or oral cortisone – Treats any redness or irritation (not needed for evey patient)

Some men are concerned about experiencing sexual side effects with oral Finasteride.  If this is the case, topcial Finasteride has been proven to be just as effective without the side effects. (04)  Even better, topical solutions which mix Finasteride with Minoxidil, Cortisone and Retinol offer an even more effective all-in-one solution.  The retinol improves absorption of the other three medications.  

Are There Other Causes of Hair Loss Besides Genetics?

Male and female pattern hair loss are the only types of genetically induced alopecia.  However, other types of alopecia exist and treatment plans are designed to treat the type of alopecia you are experiencing.  Examples of other types of alopecia include:

  • Temporary Alopecia (Telogen Effluvium) – Occurs due to sudden illness, stress, or shock and usually reverses itself without treatment
  • Autoimmune Alopecia (Alopecia Areata and Lichen Planopilaris) – People experience flares and periods of remission
  • Trauma-induced Alopecia (Traction Alopecia and Trichotillomania) – Alopecia results from hairstyles that pull on the hair follicles or when people pull out their hair as a stress response)

Can You Prevent Hereditary Hair Loss?

Let’s play pretend for a minute.  Let’s say that a genetic test does exist that will determine whether or not you will lose your hair.  The tests come back showing that you are genetically predisposed to androgenetic alopecia.   Is there a way to prevent hair loss before it begins?  Sure, eating right, exercising, and managing stress never hurt.  But, even with that, you can’t necessarily fight Mother Nature.  That would be nice, though.  If male or female pattern baldness does rear its head, then it’s time to take action.  

Can You Reverse Hereditary Hair Loss

If you’re experiencing male or female pattern baldness and want to learn more about products available, contact us.  Although there isn’t a way to prevent androgenetic alopecia from occuring in the first place, there are things you can do to reverse the condition.   Minoxidil, Finasteride and other medications have been found to be safe and effective. Our board-certified dermatologists and hair specialists are available to answer your questions and help you develop the ideal treatment plan for your needs and lifestyle. 

 

Resources:

(01) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK538178/

(02) https://academic.oup.com/biomedgerontology/article/60/8/1077/545174

(03) https://www.nature.com/articles/gim201838

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6609098/

 

Everything You Need To Know About Finasteride Interactions

If you have aging parents or grandparents and have seen their overflowing pill boxes, you know that it’s important to track their medications. One prescription can easily interact with another, and boom, you’re at the doctor’s office figuring out which drug is the culprit.  

Dermatologists and hair specialists often recommend prescription hair loss medications because they are safe and effective.  However, if you are taking other drugs or supplements at the same time, you should be aware of potential unintended interactions.  Since Finasteride, also sold under the brand names Propecia and Proscar, is FDA-approved to treat hair loss, it’s the one most often prescribed.  So, for that reason, we’ll tell you everything you need to know about what mixes well with Finasteride and what might not be the best combination.

Finasteride is a Leading Treatment for Male and Female Pattern Baldness

Research continually demonstrates that Finasteride, a medication originally developed to treat Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), is one of the most effective ways to treat androgenetic alopecia.  The statistics tell the story.  After two years on Finasteride, 83 percent of men included in Merck’s research study did not experience further hair loss.  More than 70 percent showed increased hair growth. (01)  Finasteride works just as effectively for women. (02)  That’s why Finasteride is often dermatologists’ drug of choice when it comes to stopping further hair loss and stimulating new growth.  

Finasteride Increases the Testosterone Levels in Your Body

So, how does Finasteride help stop your hair from shedding?  It blocks an enzyme called 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR).  When 5-AR isn’t produced, testosterone can no longer be converted to an androgen called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is what causes your hair follicles to miniaturize.  Finasteride also increases testosterone levels in your body.  More testosterone shrinks prostate size and helps your hair grow.  The only catch is that when you stop taking Finasteride, any new growth will be lost.   

Finasteride Interactions are Uncommon

Complications stemming from Finasteride use are rare.  That’s not to say that it doesn’t or can’t happen.  Certain medications can either increase or reduce the amount of Finasteride in your bloodstream.  Carbamezepine, Rifampin, and St. John’s Wart may reduce Finasteride’s efficacy by metabolizing the Finasteride faster in your liver.  Other medications such as Itraconazole and erythromycin may actually increase the levels of Finasteride in your blood.  Checking with your doctor is the best way to know if other medications you are already taking will contradict Finasteride.  

Avoid Interactions with Other Medications by Using Topical Finasteride Versus Oral 

If you have androgenetic alopecia and are worried about Finasteride interacting with the other medications you are taking, ask your doctor about using topical Finasteride.  Research indicates that topical Finasteride is equally as effective as oral. (03)   Think of topical Finasteride as a spot treatment.  It works directly on the areas where your hair is thinning to prevent further hair loss and stimulate growth.  Oral Finasteride, on the other hand, is systemic since it is metabolized in your stomach.  Topical Finasteride is the ideal solution for men and women who want the benefits of the medication without any potential drug interactions.  

Some Medications Make Finasteride Work More Effectively

Some medications have been found to increase the efficacy of Finasteride.  Because some medicines work synergistically, dermatologists and hair specialists often recommend that patients use multiple hair loss treatments simultaneously to maximize results.  

Minoxidil, also marketed under the brand Rogaine, is a topical hair loss solution that has proven to complement Finasteride. (04)  While Finasteride blocks the testosterone from converting to DHT, Minoxidil enlarges the hair follicles, preventing hair loss, and allowing new growth to break through.  Minoxidil is available in both oral and topical formulas.

Retinol is also a medication that is often prescribed with Finasteride.  Retinol, a derivative of Vitamin A, is often prescribed to reduce wrinkles and improve skin texture.  The medication increases collagen production and stimulates the production of new blood vessels bringing oxygen to the skin.  In addition, retinol has been proven to improve the absorption of topical Finasteride. (05)

When patients with hair loss experience inflammation, topical or injected cortisone is often prescribed in conjunction with Finasteride as well.

Taking Finasteride, Minoxidil, Retinol, and Cortisone all at the same time can seem like a lot of medications to remember.  Fortunately, topical formulas are now available that combine all into one convenient bottle.    

Alternatives to Finasteride

Other options exist if you are experiencing male or female pattern baldness and oral or topical Finasteride aren’t suitable for you.

Dutasteride

Finasteride is effective for most people.  However, an alternative medication is Dutasteride. Dutasteride works similarly to Finasteride by blocking the conversion of testosterone into DHT.  The difference between the two medications is that Finasteride inhibits the Type 2 5AR isoenzyme,while Dutasteride inhibits both Type 1 and Type 2.  In addition, Dutasteride’s prescribed dosages are typically lower than Finasteride’s because the medication is a bit stronger.  

Spironolactone

Spironolactone, also known as Aldactone, is used off-label to treat female pattern hair loss.  It was originally marketed to treat fluid retention caused by liver and kidney disease. The medication is only prescribed for women because it can cause feminizing features when used over time.  Research has not yet been conducted on a large sample size, but four women included in a study, saw reduced hair loss and experienced some growth. (06)

PRP

PRP, an abbreviation for Platelet Rich Plasma, is a three-step process designed to trigger hair growth by increasing the amount of oxygen available to the hair follicles.  First, blood is drawn. Then, blood is then separated into three groups using a centrifuge.  Lastly, the platelet rich plasma is injected into the scalp. PRP is often used in conjunction with other treatments to maximize results.  

Hair Transplant Surgery

If you are concerned about drug interactions, hair transplant surgery may be an option and a long-term hair loss solution.  During the past few years, many advances have been made in how the procedure is performed.  Rather than taking strips of hair to transplant, surgeons are now able to move individual hairs giving a more natural look.  

Low-light Laser Therapy (LLLT)

You may have seen ads recently for laser caps marketed for hair growth.  Most use light in the red or infrared range to penetrate the scalp and target the hair follicles.  Early studies show promise for the technology, but more research needs to be conducted on the efficacy.  One study found that LLT works better when used with Minoxidil or Finasteride.  The study also indicated that more data is needed to determine the optical laser power and wavelength. (07) 

Be Honest About Your Medical History

If your dermatologist recommends Finasteride or any other prescription hair loss treatment, the best thing you can do is be honest about your medical history.  In addition to telling your doctor about any other hormone, heart, or other medications you’re taking, remember to list any supplements. Also, although sharing information about smoking, drinking, or recreational marijuana use may seem embarrassing, remember that your dermatologist has seen and heard it all.  He or she is more concerned with giving you the best hair regrowth options and keeping you safe than passing judgment on your behavior.  

Is Finasteride Right For You?

If you have questions about whether Finasteride is right for you or could potentially interact with other medications you’re taking, let us know.  Our board-certified dermatologists have full medical degrees from accredited universities.  They are available and happy to review your medical history and suggest solutions based on the type of hair loss you are experiencing.  

Resources:

(01) https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/020788s020s021s023lbl.pdf

(02) Note: Recommended doses differ for men and women

(03) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34634163/#:~:text=Conclusion%3A%20Topical%20finasteride%20significantly%20improves,impact%20on%20serum%20DHT%20concentrations.

(04) https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dth.12246#:~:text=Efficacy%20assessment,combination%20therapy%20showed%20improvement%2C%20respectively.

(05) https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamadermatology/article-abstract/557305

(06) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3769411/#:~:text=In%20a%20case%20study%20of,total%20number%20of%20anagen%20hairs.

(07) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29270707/