Hair Loss - PureSkin Dermatology

Hair Loss

Did you know most of us will experience some form of hair loss in our lifetime?  There are many forms of hair loss: telogen effluvium, alopecia areata, frontal fibrosing alopecia, central centrifugal cicatricial alopecia, traction alopecia, medication or chemotherapy induced hair loss and so on… 

With August being hair loss awareness month, I thought we’d review the most common type of hair loss: Androgenic Alopecia – aka male or female pattern balding. 

Androgenic alopecia is a progressive type of hair loss meaning it leads to continued hair loss and can affect men and women. 

Androgenic alopecia affects men as early as their 20’s and presents with a receding hairline or thinning hair at the crown.  In women, this type of hair loss presents in their 30’s or 40’s and causes thinning throughout the scalp – often noticed as a wider part or receding at the temples. 

Treatment can help prevent worsening hair loss, and also help regrowth.  With androgenic alopecia, more than one type of treatment is often required to achieve desired results.  The following are treatment options for androgenic alopecia:

  1. Topical Minoxidil
    Available over the counter in solution, foam and shampoo formulations; between 2-5% has been longed used to enhance hair regrowth in both men and women. Main side effects include scalp irritation and paradoxical hair loss in the first 1-2 months of use. For best results, topical minoxidil should be used once daily for women and twice daily for men for 3-6 months. As with any other medical condition, once the treatment is discontinued, hair loss will resume.
  2. Oral Supplements
    Over the years, there have been many oral supplements that have touted to help with hair regrowth, but there is minimal evidence to support their benefit. More recently, there have been studies that show some promise with both topical and oral pumpkin seed extract, as well as ashwagandha root – but before taking any of these, it is best to speak with your physician to ensure these supplements do not interact with any of your medications.
  3. Lasers
    Recently Health Canada approved at home laser hair treatments for hair loss. These laser helmets help stimulate hair growth if used for 20 mins 2-3x/week for 2-3 months and have been shown to be efficacious to treat androgenic alopecia, when used in combination with other topical or oral treatments.
  4. Prescriptions Treatments
    Spironolactone is a long used diuretic, but has been used off label for many years for the treatment of hair loss. It’s anti-androgenic effects helps restore hair growth and prevents further hair loss. Side effects include breast tenderness in men and women and kidney function must be monitored. Finasteride and Dutasteride are 5-alpha reductase inhibitors which means they block the conversion of testosterone to DHT (dihydrotestosterone); an androgen. By blocking androgen formation, these medications improve hair regrowth in androgenic alopecia.
  5. Hair Transplant
    Hair transplants used to only be an option for men with mediocre results, but technology has come a long way and results are impressive, but not everyone can afford the hefty pricetag!

If you think you may have androgenic alopecia, it is best to see you doctor to confirm the diagnosis and help guide you through treatment options that are best for you.