Where to Start When Treating Hair Loss

When it comes to treating your hair loss it pays to have some basic understanding of the existing treatment options in order to better assess your chances and to choose the right remedy for your current condition. In the first place, hair loss treatment options can be divided into surgical and non-surgical therapies. Although there are only a few surgical techniques currently used, the non-surgical spectrum is wide and confusing. There seem to be thousands of non-surgical treatment options available to those who wish to avoid hair surgery. Propecia and Rogaine might be the best known medicinal hair loss treatments, while dried fruits of saw palmetto and a Chinese herb, He Shou Wu, also known as Fo-Ti, are the natural ingredients most frequently used in alternative hair loss remedies.

The non-surgical hair loss therapies can be in principle broken down into medicinal and alternative treatments, whereas when considering methods of application, they can be divided into oral treatments, topical applications and others, such as low level laser therapy. Irrespective of the aforementioned breakdowns, hair growth treatments work either by blocking the activity of dihydrotestosterone, also called anti-androgens, or by stimulating hair growth.

Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is a biologically-active metabolite of the male hormone testosterone that is thought to be the main cause of both male and female hereditary pattern baldness. DHT causes hair miniaturisation as the hair becomes finer and thinner with every new hair growth cycle until the hair follicles refuse to produce another hair at all and eventually die. The exact mechanism by which DHT acts on hair follicles is not known, though. Finasteride, better known under its trade name Propecia, is the only clinically-proven and FDA-approved anti-androgen used for treating male pattern baldness. It acts by preventing the creation of DHT in the scalp. Since the introduction of Propecia, many other drugs and natural therapies have emerged claiming anti-androgen activity. Some of them are supposed to work by a different mode of action than Propecia, such as preventing DHT from binding to the receptor sites in the follicle or blocking activity in the androgen receptor itself.

Minoxidil, also known as Rogaine, is the best-known hair loss medicine amongst hair growth stimulants. It is assumed that hair growth stimulants work by directly stimulating epithelial growth of hair follicles and some of them may also counteract the hardening of the hair follicles but the exact mechanism of their action has never been described. One thing that all hair growth stimulants have in common is their ability to increase the length of the hair growth cycle, thus improving the ratio of hair in the growth phase and to increase the hair’s diameter.

The natural hair loss treatments are in principle assumed to work by the aforementioned modes of action and are often presented as safe alternatives to medicinal treatments. There are not too many hair loss treatments that have been clinically proven and independently verified to be effective in treating baldness. Of those few existing, all happen to be medicinal drugs. Natural hair loss treatments have still to live up to their manufacturer claims.

When deciding about the most suitable hair loss treatment option, one should always consider approaching the problem from different angles. It is best advised to use a combination of anti-androgen and hair growth stimulant, such as a Propecia/Rogaine combination. Alternative, hair loss treatments, for instance natural remedies, should mainly be considered as a method of fine-tuning this basic regimen in order to achieve additional benefits.