Baldness treatments

From ArticleWorld

Baldness treatments are a group of therapies that have been known to affect the degree of baldness a person experiences. Treatment tends to be more effective in those who have a lesser degree of baldness than in those who have much baldness to overcome.

Oral medications

There are a number of reasonable oral medications for hair loss, although all take at least 6 months before hair growth is visible. Maximum results are not seen until up to 24 months after beginning treatment. Finasteride (Propecia) is the only treatment known to maintain hair loss once it has regrown. Minoxidil (Rogaine) is also somewhat effective.

Finasteride is an inhibitor of an enzyme known as 5-alpha reductase that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that mixes with sebaceous (oil) material in the hair follicle and damages the hair follicle cell. Minoxidil is a medication once used for hypertension that opens the cellular potassium channel, dilates blood vessels and was found to grow hair as a side effect. It works better to restore hair on the crown and less well on the hair near the hairline.

Topical medications

Minoxidil comes as a topical preparation and can grow hair in up to 25% of men and women after several months. Copper peptides are topical preparations that shorten the “resting phase” of hair so that less hair falls out at any given time. Ketoconazole shampoo is an antifungal agent that can help if hair loss is due to a fungal infection. It also is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor and can act like finasteride to promote regrowth of hair.

Other treatments

Some specialists advocate the use of aerobic exercise to prevent hair loss. Anabolic exercise, such as weight lifting, may actually worsen balding due to its effect on the amount of circulating testosterone. Hair transplantation involves taking plugs of hair from parts of the scalp that have hair to spare and implanting the plugs into balding areas. Sometimes the surgery can be extreme and can involve removing the balding areas while stretching the rest of the hair over the scalp.

A new form of treatment has not yet been formalized but is expected sometime after 2009. It involves cloning hair follicle stem cells and injecting them under the skin after multiplying the cells in a culture dish. The procedure seems to work well in mice but is not yet perfected for human use.