Medical treatments to combat female alopecia are the most common treatments. Here are the three that are used most frequently: minoxidil, anti-androgens and iron supplements.
Minoxidil (Rogaine, generic). Originally, this is a drug for the treatment of hypertension; however, patients who were prescribed this noticed hair growth in areas in which they had lost hair. Studies confirmed that the application on the scalp of a solution of 2% minoxidil may stimulate hair growth.
Although the mode of action of minoxidil is not entirely clear, it’s effectiveness was demonstrated with two double-blind studies with women from eighteen to forty-five years of age. In one study, 13% of women who consumed noted minoxidil hair growth moderate, and 50% aquired a minimum growth (compared with 6% and 33% which were obtained, respectively, in the group). In the second study, 60% of women in the group experienced a minoxidil hair growth, compared with 40% of the placebo group. As a result of these and other studies, the solution of minoxidil 2% OTC is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in women.
Obviously, minoxidil is not a miracle drug. While it may stimulate the growth of fine hair in somewomen, it normally fails to restore the total density of the lost hair. It is not a quick fix. The results are not noticeable until two months from the start of treatment. Often, the result is optimal by the fourth month, but may take longer, so you should try it for a period of six to twelve months. If minoxidil works for you, you should continue using it to maintain the results. If you abandon the treatment, hair loss will return.
Using minoxidil: make sure you have dry hair and scalp. Apply minoxidil twice a day in each area where the hair is being treated; for this, use the dropper or sprayer that comes with the solution sold in pharmacies. Gently massage the scalp with your fingers so that it reaches the hair follicles. Then let your hair dry naturally, wash your hands thoroughly and clean any remaining solution you have in the forehead or face. Do not wash your hair with shampoo until after at least four hours.
In some women, the minoxidil solution leaves some remains that dry and irritated scalp. It is possible that this irritation called contact dermatitis is not caused by the minoxidil itself, but solution containing alcohol to assist the natural drying process. The 5% solution (available only by prescription and approved for men only) is more effective than the 2% solution is prescribed to women. The 5% solution is sold in foam, which apparently causes less irritation than liquid solution.
Side effects and complications: minoxidil is safe, but it may also have other side effects. Sometimes new hairs have a slightly different color and texture of the surrounding hair. Another risk is hypertrichosis: Excessive hair growth in unwanted areas such as the cheeks or forehead (this problem is more common with the 5% solution). As the patent on Rogaine (the brand name for minoxidil) has expired, there are many generic products available All contain the same amount of minoxidil, but some include additional ingredients such as herbal extracts, which can cause allergic reactions.
Antiandrogens. Blocking drugs of androgen receptors, such as spironolactone (Aldactone) and finasteride (Propecia) are not approved for the treatment of female pattern baldness, and there is little evidence of trust to ensure their effectiveness. However, some case studies suggest that women who do not respond to minoxidil can benefit from the addition of spironolactone. In the relatively rare cases where there is an excess of androgens, the doctor may prescribe from 100 to 200 mg per day of a drug blocking androgen receptors, together with an oral contraceptive use for women who are in reproductive age (women consuming any of these drugs should avoid becoming pregnant, as these drugs can cause genital abnormalities in male fetuses). Possible side effects include weight gain, loss of libido, depression and fatigue.
Iron supplements. In some women, the anemia may be the cause of hair loss. The doctor can make a blood test to determine the level of iron, especially if you are vegetarian, if you have a history of anemia or if you suffer menorrhagia iron supplements are recommended when the level of iron in blood in women is less than 70 ng per milliliter. However, no reliable evidence to show that iron supplements are useful for female pattern baldness.