Tag Archive for: DHT blockers

Is Minoxidil (Rogaine) Safe for Women?

You may be familiar with Minoxidil that’s used to treat thinning hair and bald spots.  The medication was initially tested, marketed, and FDA-approved for men with male pattern baldness.  If you’re a woman experiencing hair loss, you may wonder if Minoxidil is safe and effective for you too.  After all, Minoxidil is available under the brand name Rogaine over the counter at most big box retailers and pharmacies.  It’s easy to buy and use.  

Dermatologists Often Recommend Minoxidil to Their Female Patients

Minoxidil is safe, and it’s the medication most often recommended to women by dermatologists to treat their hair loss conditions.  Before you run to the store, though, there are a few things you should know.  

Minoxidil Is FDA Approved for Women

If you’re considering using Minoxidil to treat your hair loss, you’ll be happy to know that the five percent topical foam and solution was FDA-approved for women in 2014.  The medication was used off-label for women before it was approved.  Why is FDA approval notable?  Because it means that the manufacturer proved that its product is safe and effective for its intended use.  FDA approval also means the product is manufactured to federal quality standards.  

Higher Doses of Minoxidil are Available by Prescription

Oral and topical Minoxidil doses above five percent are available to women but only off-label by prescription.  Don’t be concerned about using prescription medication off-label, though.  The FDA knows that medical providers do that.  Off-label means that dermatologists may prescribe a drug for use that isn’t approved when the provider determines that the medication is medically appropriate.  

Minoxidil Is Used to Treat Female Pattern Baldness and Other Hair Loss Conditions

Minoxidil is most often recommended and prescribed to treat androgenetic alopecia, commonly known as female pattern baldness.  Female pattern baldness occurs in women who are genetically predisposed to hair loss.  When women experience this condition, they typically see hair loss along their parts first.  Over time, the part widens as the hair in the area continues to thin and fall out.  While men who experience male pattern baldness can lose all of their hair over time, women typically don’t.  Women are more likely to see diffuse thinning on the crown of their heads.  

Minoxidil is often prescribed for other hair loss conditions as well.  Dermatologists often recommend Minoxidil to their female patients with alopecia areata, frontal fibrosing alopecia, lichen planopilaris, and other types of alopecia.

Minoxidil is Available to Women in Different Forms and Doses

Liquid & Foam Rogaine

If you go to the store, you’ll find foam and liquid Minoxidil in two and five-percent formulas.  Minoxidil is the same as Rogaine.  You may also find generic store brands of Minoxidil under names such as Equate and Kirkland Hair Regrowth Treatment, which contain the same active ingredients.  

Initially, only two percent formulas were marketed for women.  However, research indicates that higher doses are more effective for treating female pattern hair loss.  Although both two and five percent solutions increased hair growth, the five percent demonstrated statistical superiority over the two percent. (01)  When choosing between the liquid and foam, you may want to consider foam that does not contain propylene glycol which can be an irritant to some women. 

Oral Minoxidil

Oral Minoxidil is an alternative to topical and is available by prescription.  The medication is effective in regrowing hair in women with female pattern baldness. (02)  Oral Minoxidil was initially tested in higher doses to treat high blood pressure.  When used to treat genetic hair loss, much lower doses are prescribed.   

Minoxidil with DHT Blockers

The most effective treatments attack hair loss from different angles.  Women often use Minoxidil simultaneously with DHT blockers such as Finasteride or Spironolactone.  Minoxidil enlarges the hair follicles, while Finasteride or Spironolactone prevents testosterone from converting to DHT.  When DHT is blocked, it can’t bind to the receptors in your hair follicle so your hair won’t be at risk.  

Customized Topical Minoxidil Formulas

Treatments for female pattern baldness may differ from woman to woman.  What works for one may not work for another, which is why customized formulas are often best.  The most effective treatments attack hair loss from different angles.  A benefit of customized formulas is that Minoxidil can be prescribed up to 10 percent, which is significantly higher than what’s available over the counter.  Retinol can be added to increase absorption, and cortisone can be added if necessary to prevent irritation from higher concentrations of Minoxidil. Many women also like the convenience of having all of the hair loss medications they need to be compounded into one formula rather than having to take or use multiple medications.       

Minoxidil Side Effects are Usually Minimal

Minoxidil users usually don’t experience many side effects.  Topicals can cause some redness, flaking, and irritation.  However, eliminating propylene glycol usually resolves the issue.  Oral Minoxidil was originally tested and marketed to treat high blood pressure.  Because oral medications are systemic, side effects such as a fluctuating heart rate are possible.  Side effects are rare, though.  Doses of oral Minoxidil prescribed for hair loss are typically significantly lower than for high blood pressure.  

Minoxidil Can Cause Initial Shedding

If you’ve been researching Minoxidil for your hair loss, you may have heard about the “dread shed” that can occur when first using Minoxidil.  Yes, some women find that they lose more hair at first.  The reason why is because Minoxidil speeds up your hair’s growth cycle.  The resting phase occurs faster than it otherwise would.  Everyone doesn’t experience an increase in shedding.  However, If you do shed initially, don’t panic.  Your hair’s growth cycle will regulate within a few weeks.  

Trying Minoxidil is the Best Way to Determine Whether it will Work for You

It would be nice if there were a way to know whether Minoxidil will help regrow your hair.  A response test has been designed and marketed to do just that.  The test measures the amount of sulfotransferase enzyme activity in plucked hair follicles to predict whether or not Minoxidil will be effective. Research indicates that the sulfotransferase activity predicts treatment response with 93 percent sensitivity and 83 percent specificity. (03)  There’s a catch, though.  

The test will only help determine if women will respond to two or five percent topical Minoxidil.  The test does not indicate whether or not women will potentially respond to higher topical dosages or to oral Minoxidil.  It also does not indicate whether Minoxidil will be effective when used with a DHT blocker such as Finasteride or Spironolactone.  The best way to know if Minoxidil will work is by trial.  It typically takes six to twelve months to see results. 

If you have been diagnosed with female pattern baldness and are thinking about trying Minoxidil, here’s the takeaway.  Minoxidil is safe for women to use and has been proven to be an effective treatment for many.  Minoxidil often works best with Finasteride, Spironolactone, or another DHT blocker.  A topical with a percentage higher than five or oral Minoxidil will require a prescription.  If you have more questions about whether Minodixidl is right for you, Happy Head’s board-certified dermatologists can help.  Contact us and our hair growth experts will help select the best solution for you, without a visit to the doctor’s office. 

 

Resources:

(01) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15034503/

(02) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32851744/

(03) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24773771/

 

Your Holiday Hair Loss Guide

‘Tis the season for parties, spending time with family and friends, and traditional holiday meals.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?  Well, not for everyone.  Some people dealing with hair loss find that the holidays bring a whole new level of angst about their appearance.  You may plan to visit friends and family members you haven’t seen since last year, or even longer.  And, for sure, you’ll end up in some of those pictures posted on Facebook or Instagram.  Finding the perfect outfit is one thing, but trying to camouflage your thinning or balding hair is a whole different story.  Is that even possible?  Before you RSVP “no” to your next invite and pull out the flannels, take a deep breath and check out the following tips.  You can find joy during the holidays, even when battling male or female pattern baldness or another type of alopecia.     

Give Yourself a Break

It can be hard to accept that your looks are changing.  You may not look like you did last year.  Or, even like you did a few months ago.  That’s okay.  It’s time to stop comparing the new you to the old you.  You’re probably harsher on yourself than others would be.  When you see balding, thinning hair in the mirror, others may not even notice or care.  They’re more likely to remember the funny story or joke you told.  It’s true.  While someone may remember what you look like, research indicates that others are more likely to remember how you make them feel when you’re around. (01)  Do the best you can to turn off your inner critic, and remember that how you interact with others makes you uniquely attractive, not your hair.   

Go Out and Stay Involved

Arg.  Every time you look in the mirror, it seems like there’s more hair missing.  You’re grumpy and don’t feel like talking to or seeing anyone.  How can you go out looking like that?  So, instead of going to your friend’s holiday party, you put on your baggiest sweats and start binge-watching Dahmer while downing a pizza.  Good idea, right?  Nope.  According to the American Psychological Association, that’s the worst thing you can do. (02)  Social isolation can not only affect your sleep, but also cause depression and lower your immunity.  It can have long-lasting psychological effects.  You’re better off rallying and forcing yourself to go to the party.  Socializing will get your mind off your hair loss, even if it’s for a bit.  Talking to other people will also help you feel less alone and put you in a better mood.  

De-stress

Controlling stress is important for everyone’s health and well-being.  It’s especially important if you’re dealing with hair loss.  If you’re already experiencing male or female pattern baldness or another type of alopecia, you definitely do not want stress-induced hair loss too.  The holidays are a particularly tricky time for managing stress, though.  Family drama and searching for the perfect gift when there’s limited inventory can push anyone over the edge.  The good news is that there are ways to manage.  Here are some ways to help you de-stress:

1. Get enough exercise

Get outside or to the gym if your hair loss is giving you the holiday blues.  Physical activity not only makes your body feel better, but it’s also good for your mind.  Exercising may help increase your endorphins, putting you in a better mood after.  Bonus is that exercise increases the blood flow to your scalp.  This means that more oxygen and nutrients are helping kick your hair’s growth phase into full gear.  

2. Sleep

Not only does sleep calm and restore your body, but it can also help hair growth.  Your body produces melatonin primarily at night.  Some studies even suggest that melatonin supplementation helps promote hair growth among people with male and female pattern hair loss. (03)

3. Pamper yourself

We’re going to put this out there.  Sometimes the best way to relieve stress is to pamper yourself.  Whether that’s a massage, listening to holiday music, or reading a book doesn’t matter.  Whatever makes you let go and relax works.  

4. Set a budget and stick to it

It’s easy to get burdened with extra debt and associated worries about how you will pay for all of those gifts during the holidays.  Prevent that from happening by setting a budget and making sure that you stick to it.  

5. Set a schedule

So much to do and so little time.  The holidays will be here before you know it.  How are you going to get everything done in time?  Writing your to-dos down will help you manage your time and expectations.  You’ll find time for the most important tasks, and you might even schedule some downtime.  

6. Accept imperfections

Acknowledge that the holiday may not go as planned, and remember that imperfections are healthy and normal

7. Remember what’s important

Keeping perspective when you’re stuck in a long line or annoyed with a relative can go a long way toward keeping you calm.  Will another 10 minutes really change your day?  Does it matter that your sister wants to bring stuffing instead of pie?  

8. Be patient

You can’t change others’ behavior, but you can choose how you respond.   If a situation gets tense, take a few deep breaths and focus on an appropriate response versus a quick reaction.  

Get a New Do

Maybe you’ve been letting your hair grow out, hoping to cover the balding or thinning areas.  Or, perhaps you’ve been afraid to cut your hair because you’re worried it might not grow back.  The holidays are the perfect time to visit your stylist and try out a new look.  Remember, androgenetic alopecia is the most common form of hair loss.  Millions of people are experiencing the same condition you are.  Your barber or stylist probably has a few tricks to help you get party-ready. 

Consider Treatment Options for Your Hair Loss

Accepting that your hair is thinning or balding isn’t easy, especially when you’re active and social.  The good news is that you don’t have to accept your fate.  The best way to deal with hair loss is by fighting it.  Fortunately, medications with high efficacy have been tested and are available.  

The most effective hair loss treatments are vasodilators and DHT blockers. Minoxidil is a vasodilator, which increases blood flow to your scalp and hair follicles.  More oxygen enlarges the hair follicles allowing existing hair to remain stable and healthy.  It also allows new hair to emerge.  

Prescription DHT blockers serve a different purpose.  Male and female pattern baldness occurs when testosterone converts to Dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  DHT is what attacks your hair follicles and makes your hair fall out.  DHT blockers prevent the conversion.  The most commonly prescribed DHT blockers are Finasteride, Dutasteride, and Spironolactone.  Because Minoxidil and  DHT blockers treat hair loss from different angles, the two medications are often used simultaneously.  Retinol may be prescribed as well to increase the absorption of the other medications.  If irritation is a concern, low doses of cortisone can be added.  All-in-one topical formulas prevent side effects and can be more convenient than oral medications.

Research Alternative Hair Loss Solutions

Prescription medications are a great choice for many people; however, there are alternative hair loss solutions that can help camouflage your hair loss and give your confidence a boost.

Hairpieces

Looking for a quick fix?  Today’s hair pieces come in a wide variety of materials, textures and styles.  Testing them out can be fun and can give you a fresh new look that will make you ready to rock the room.

Scalp Concealer

Some people with male and female pattern baldness swear by cover-up sprays and powders.  The tint of color is just enough to conceal balding or thinning areas.  A wide variety of colors are available to make a good color match, and the concealers are designed to be long-lasting.  

Hair Transplants

If your hair loss is stressing you out and you don’t have the patience to wait for other treatments to work, you can always treat yourself to a hair transplant.  Hair transplants are surgical procedures where healthy hair is moved from the back of your head to the front.  Hair transplant practices have evolved over the years and produce a more natural look than ever before.  Transplants can be pricey and aren’t usually covered by insurance since they’re considered cosmetic procedures.

Talk About It

It’s normal to be upset about losing your hair, but if your hair loss is starting to interfere with your holiday plans, you may need a support system.  Using a therapist, meeting up with a group locally, or even joining a Facebook group for people with alopecia can help you feel less alone and develop coping skills.  Finding a way to talk about your feelings may be one of the best gifts you give yourself this holiday season.

If the idea of stopping your hair loss and regrowing your hair brings you happiness and joy, what are you waiting for?  It’s time to get more information on customized hair growth solutions.  The best part about our prescription-grade solutions is that ingredients can be added or removed based on your particular needs.  Get started now and check out our special edition holiday pack.

Resources:

(01) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25750481/

(02) https://www.uvu.edu/news/2020/04/04072020_isolation_mental_health.html#:~:text=The%20American%20Psychological%20Association%20reports,have%20long%2Dlasting%20psychological%20impact.

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3681103/