Tag Archive for: oral minoxidil

Your Guide to the Top Hair Loss Treatments for 2023 (Yes, They Really Work!)

2022 was a big year for advancements in the medical field.  Scientists learned how to track rapidly changing Covid variants, promising medications for prostate cancer were identified, and breakthroughs were made in diabetes management.  JAK inhibitors were found to be successful in helping patients with severe alopecia areata regrow their hair. (01)

We’ve been busy too.  In addition to seeing patients throughout the year, Dr. Ben Behnam and Dr. Sean Behnam, board-certified dermatologists and hair specialists, were behind the scenes developing, testing, and marketing stronger treatments for male and female pattern hair loss based on scientific data and their clinical experience.  

If bald spots, thinning hair, or hairballs in the shower are stressing you out, now is the time to stop the shedding and start regrowing your hair.  Here’s our guide to the Top Hair Loss Treatments for 2023.  We’ll also share the science behind the formulas so you can make smart decisions about the products you use.  

Top Oral Medications for Hair Loss

The most effective hair loss medications are prescription drugs discovered by accident.  During testing for high blood pressure and benign prostatic hyperplasia, researchers found that the medicines had a peculiar side effect.  Balding men suddenly started to regrow their hair.  Further research was conducted, and sure enough, the findings were confirmed.  Finasteride is now FDA approved to use by men with male pattern hair loss.  Although all the other medications listed below have been tested for efficacy, they are currently prescribed off-label at low doses.  Oral hair loss medications are easy to take and are relatively inexpensive.    

Oral Minoxidil

Oral Minoxidil was recently touted in the New York Times as a “cheap treatment” that “restores hair in many patients.” (02)  Minoxidil works by opening the blood vessels.  More oxygen flows to the scalp, expanding the blood vessels and enlarging the hair follicles.   Topical liquid or foam works for many people, but it does not work for some.  People who do not respond to the topical formula may have better luck with the pill.  A specific enzyme must be present in the skin and hair roots to convert topical Minoxidil to an active form.  Oral Minoxidil does not need to be converted. 

Oral Finasteride

Low-dose oral Finasteride is a first-line DHT blocker that can be used by both men and women who are not pregnant or planning to become pregnant.  DHT blockers prevent testosterone from converting to a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  DHT binds to your hair follicles, makes them shrink during a process called miniaturization, and makes your hair fall out.  When DHT production is blocked, your hair follicles remain healthy.  Oral Finasteride has minimal side effects on women who qualify to take the medication.  Although  not  common, some men report sexual side effects from the pills.  Switching to topical Finasteride is a good solution for men who are concerned.       

Oral Dutasteride

Oral Dutasteride is similar to Finasteride. The main difference is the number of isoenzymes inhibited.  Finasteride inhibits Type 2 isoenzyme of 5a-reductase (5AR).  Dutasteride inhibits Type 1 and Type 2.  5AR is the enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT).  Research indicates that Dutasteride reduces more serum DHT than Finasteride. (03)  Should you skip the Finasteride and go straight to Dutasteride?  Not necessarily.  Finasteride is effective for many users and can be taken at a lower dose.  It’s typically recommended to step up to stronger medications as needed.  Of course, there are always exceptions, so your dermatologist should guide you.  

Oral Spironolactone

Oral Spironolactone, a medication used to treat high blood pressure and heart failure, is used off-label at low doses to treat hair loss.  Spironolactone falls into the category of mineralocorticoid receptors (MRAs).  The medication slows the production of androgen to block DHT production.  It’s usually only prescribed to women because it can cause side effects such as enlarged breasts in men.  

Combination Oral Medications

Over time, dermatologists have discovered that treating male or female pattern hair loss requires multiple approaches working simultaneously.  Many people need a cocktail of medications to stop their hair loss and to grow new hair.  However, taking numerous medications usually isn’t convenient.  That’s where SuperCapsules play a role.  These medications combine a Minoxidil (a vasodilator), Finasteride or Dutasteride (a DHT blocker), and vitamin D. 

Why Vitamin D?  Because the number of people with Vitamin D deficiencies is more significant than you would imagine. Vitamin D deficiency affects about 40 percent of the people who live in the U.S. (04)   Vitamin D is metabolized in the skin by cells that process keratin, the protein found in your hair, nails, and skin.  When your body has a Vitamin D deficiency, your body has trouble regulating hair growth and shedding.

Top Topical Medications for Hair Loss

Oral medications are effective, but they’re not ideal for everyone.  Although rare, oral hair loss medicines can sometimes cause side effects such as low blood pressure or decreased libido.  That doesn’t mean you have to forgo hair loss treatment, though.  Topical treatments can penetrate the scalp and have been found equally effective, without the same risk of side effects. (05) 

All of our oral medications are available in topicals.  For your convenience, topicals are also available in combinations.  After all, it’s much easier to apply one medication than two, three, or four.  Combined topicals also allow ingredients to be added, such as retinoic acid and cortisone.  Retinoic acid improves the absorption of the formula.  Sometimes, topicals that include higher percentages of Minoxidil can cause irritation.  Cortisone proactively alleviates the issue.  If you don’t see the exact formula you need, it’s not a problem.  We can customize a formula for you.  

Can you get topicals over the counter without a prescription?  Minoxidil, yes.  The only catch is that the foam and liquid available at the store is a lower dosage.  Percentages higher than five are only available by prescription.  Topical Finasteride, Dutasteride, and Spironolactone are only available by prescription.  

Here are the topical formulas available:

Thickening Shampoos & Conditioners

Shopping for the right shampoo and conditioner can be overwhelming.  Store shelves are packed with different options for every hair type.  There are shampoos and conditioners for dry hair, greasy hair, curly hair, straight hair, dandruff, and more.  What do you use if your hair is thinning or falling out?  Well, there’s a plethora of options for that too.  When developing their shampoo and conditioner, Dr. Ben Behnam and Dr. Sean Behnam were very particular about the ingredients they chose.  Here are some of the natural ingredients they selected and why:  

Argan oil 

Research indicates that aragan oil has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  Aragan oil can protect your hair against elements and make it look shinier.  

Biotin

Biotin, vitamin B7, is known for stimulating keratin production and increasing follicle growth rate.  It was added to help make your hair stronger.  

Collagen

Collagen is used to increase your hair’s ability to build protein.  It can help make your hair longer and thicker.  If you have gray hair, collagen may help improve your hair’s appearance by supporting the hair follicle where your hair’s pigment is produced.  

Keratin

Want smoother, shinier hair?  Keratin will help.  The  hair cuticle absorbs keratin, a structural and protective protein which helps keep your hair under control.  

Saw Palmetto

Saw palmetto is a member of the palm family.  The powder is made from the shrub’s berries.  Saw palmetto not only has anti-inflammatory properties, but it also acts as a DHT blocker.  

Remember that no shampoo or conditioner alone will prevent hair loss or regrow your hair.  The right ones will, however, help keep your hair and scalp healthy and healthy looking. 

Hair Supplements

Nutritional deficiencies, hormonal issues, and stress all contribute to hair loss.  Daily hair supplements with Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Ashwagandha, probiotics, and other natural ingredients included in our hair supplements help offset the effects to give you stronger, healthier hair.  

Researched and Tested Prescription Hair Loss Treatments 

Most people are upset when they realize that they’re losing their hair.  If that’s you, it’s time to usher in the new year with a fresh approach to managing your hair loss.  Thanks to telemedicine, you can quickly, easily, discreetly access the prescription hair loss treatment you need.  Our caring, licensed dermatologists are available to help you along the way.  There’s even a special edition holiday pack to help you get started.  

Remember, it can take six to twelve months to see the full results, so make sure to celebrate your milestones along the way.  You may not think that you’re making much progress.  After all, you see yourself every day.  However, taking photos monthly will make it easier to see new growth.  Cheers to new beginnings!

Resources:

(01) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31930807/

(02) https://www.nytimes.com/2022/08/18/health/minoxidil-hair-loss-pills.html

(03) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472914/

(04) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6075634/

(05) https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34634163/

 

Does Oral Minoxidil Live Up to the Hype?

There has been some press and a lot of talk about the benefits of low-dose oral Minoxidil recently.  Our phone lines have been flooded with questions in response.  Is oral Minoxidil the cure for balding and thinning hair?  Will it work for me?  That’s what everyone wants to know.  

In response, we thought it would be helpful to share answers to some of the frequently asked questions we’ve been getting.  If you’re thinking about asking for a prescription, make sure you read this first.  We’ll explain what oral Minoxidil is, how it works, and some things you should consider if you decide to give it a try.

What’s the Big Deal About Oral Minoxidil?

In previous blog posts, we talked a little bit about the abundance of over-the-counter (OTC) products on the market that promise to help people who are experiencing hair loss regrow their hair.  Shampoos, conditioners, vitamins, and supplements are easy to buy and tempting to try.  If you’ve already tried one (or five), you know what we mean.  We’ve also discussed how with the exception of two and five percent Minoxidil liquid and foam, which are marketed under the brand name Rogaine, the products that are truly effective in treating hair loss are only available by prescription.  

Recent press has reiterated this point and has touted the benefits of low-dose oral Minoxidil.  Minoxidil is an inexpensive medication and has been proven to be effective in treating male and female pattern hair loss (androgenetic alopecia) and other types of alopecia.  

What is Minoxidil?

Minoxidil was originally developed and marketed to treat high blood pressure. The medication is a vasodilator.  It relaxes the blood vessels, allowing blood to pass through more easily.  When Minoxidil was initially tested for high blood pressure, doctors and researchers noticed that one of the side effects was hair growth.  Minoxidil brings more oxygen to the scalp’s surface, enlarging the hair follicles and offsetting the effects of miniaturization that results in hair thinning and balding.  Through the enlarged follicles, new hair can grow, and existing hair remains strong and healthy.  

Why is Oral Minoxidil Prescribed Off Label?

Liquid and foam Minoxidil are FDA approved for treating hair loss.  Oral Minoxidil is prescribed off-label for hair loss because it has been approved to treat high blood pressure but not for hair loss.  Prescribing medications off-label is common practice in dermatology. Many dermatological conditions ranging from skin pigment disorders to inflammatory conditions, do not have standard FDA-approved treatments, so dermatologists use research findings to prescribe off-label to treat their patients’ conditions.  

How is Oral Minoxidil Usually Prescribed to Treat Hair Loss?

Dosage may differ based on your body weight and other factors; however, the typical prescription of oral Minoxidil to treat alopecia is 2.5 milligrams.  Dr. Ben Behnam, dermatologist, hair specialist, and founder of Happy Head hair loss solutions, recommends building up slowly over a month to avoid side effects. “Use a pill cutter,” says Dr. Behnam. “Take one-quarter of a tablet for the first two weeks, one half of a tablet during the second two weeks, and a full tablet after that.”  As with any prescription medication, patients should only take oral Minoxidil under the supervision of a licensed physician.

What are the Side Effects of Oral Minoxidil?

According to Dr. Benham, oral Minoxidil is a relatively safe medication, and side effects are rare.  Oral Minoxidil does not cause weight gain or sexual side effects.  Although most people do not have any side effects, people who do may experience changes in blood pressure, heart palpitations, headaches, and ankle swelling.  If you have concerns about fluctuating blood pressure, Dr. Benham suggests buying an inexpensive blood pressure cuff and checking your blood pressure weekly.

If you’re of middle-eastern descent and are using oral Minoxidil at higher doses, there’s a risk that you could grow hair on your face or other parts of your body.  That usually doesn’t happen at the lower doses though.  There’s also a higher chance of hirsutism in women than men.  

Most side effects resolve on their own after a week of continuously taking the medication.  However, if your symptoms don’t resolve, Dr. Ben recommends contacting your dermatologist and discontinuing the medication.  

Can You Use Oral Minoxidil and Topical Hair Loss Treatments at the Same Time?

Using oral Minoxidil at the same time as topical hair loss treatments is often recommended for the best results.  The reason is that oral Minoxidil may work as a stand-alone treatment for some, but many people will also require an anti-antigen such as Finasteride.  Minoxidil will open the hair follicles, but it won’t block testosterone from converting to DHT.   Therefore, most people need a DHT blocker to complement the Minoxidil.  

What other Medications Exist to Treat Male or Female Pattern Baldness?

Both oral and topical medications are available to treat androgenetic alopecia.  Oral medications include:

Finasteride (Propecia)

A DHT blocker that’s typically prescribed as a first-line medication due to its high efficacy.  Although not common, some men taking oral Finasteride experience some sexual side effects.  Topical Finasteride, has been proven to work equally as well as oral Finasteride without the same risk of side effects.

Dutasteride (Avodart)

Dutasteride is also a DHT blocker.  The difference between Finasteride and Dutasteride is that Dutasteride inhibits two isoenzymes while Finasteride inhibits one.  That said, FDA-approved Finasteride is effective for most people with male or female pattern baldness.  When Finasteride isn’t quite strong enough, Dutasteride is prescribed off-label.  Knowing whether Finasteride or Dutasteride will work best in each case is usually unknown until a patient tries one of the medications.  Based on Dr. Behnam’s experience, Finasteride works better for some people than Dutasteride, even though Dutasteride is a stronger medication.  That’s why Finasteride is used as the first-line treatment. 

Spironolactone

Sprironolactone is a second-line DHT blocker prescribed to women when Finasteride isn’t effective.  Men typically aren’t candidates for the medication because it can cause feminizing side effects.  

Topical Medications

In addition to Minoxidil, topical Finasteride and combination medications are available.  Formulas that combine prescription medications such as Minoxidil and Finasteride are beneficial because they contain both a vasodilator and a DHT blocker into one.  Patients often prefer the convenience of using one medication rather than multiple medications.  Topicals are also often preferred because they work as effectively as oral medications without the same risk of side effects.  

Is it Okay to Take Oral Minoxidil if You’re Already on Other Blood Pressure Medications?

If you are currently on a blood pressure medication, check with your cardiologist before adding oral Minoxidil.  Knowing whether you can take oral Minoxidil with other blood pressure medications depends on what you’re taking and your current blood pressure.  Again, your cardiologist is the best one to advise you.  

How Do I Get a Prescription for Oral Minoxidil?

The best way to get a prescription for oral Minoxidil is by scheduling a meeting with your dermatologist or hair specialist.  If you aren’t currently under the care of a practitioner, Happy Head has licensed dermatologists who can review your case and determine whether you are a candidate for the medication.  Contact us if you would like more information.  

We covered a lot of ground, so let’s review.  Dermatologists do often recommend oral Minoxidil to their patients.  It’s a reliable medication with relatively low side effects.  However, oral Minoxidil often needs to be combined with a DHT blocker to get the results that most people want.  The right combination of medications varies and can take some trial and error.  Hair loss treatment isn’t one-size-fits-all and can be affected by factors such as weight and genetic make-up.  If you have further questions, Happy Head is here for you.  Reach out and we’re happy to help.