Male Pattern Baldness–Which Treatments Actually Work?

Male pattern baldness is a very common condition and is being reported by 25% of men by the age of 30, and 50% of men by the age of 50. It is a normal part of aging, caused partly by heredity and partly by hormonal changes. The choice of whether to treat should be made within 5 years of the first hair loss. After the first five years hair follicles close, making hair growth impossible. A large number of remedies can be found online, most with limited or even no evidence in the medical literature. Below is a list of the best studied and most effective medications against hair loss in men.

Medications

  • Rogaine (minoxidil) is a topical liquid, foam, or shampoo available over-the-counter, applied to the scalp twice a day. It takes about six months to show results, and if it does work, needs to be reapplied indefinitely.
  • Propecia (finasteride) is a 1 mg pill available only by prescription. It is taken once a day to stop hair loss and possibly help new hair to grow. It can take a few months to show results and, if effective, should be continued. Since finasteride became generic, the price has dropped significantly.
  • Avodart (dutasteride) is a 2.5 mg tablet taken orally once a day as prescribed. A study published in the medical journal Clinical Interventions in Aging in February of 2019 found dutasteride to be more effective than finasteride, with the same risk of side effects–however it is more expensive. Like Propecia it must be taken indefinitely to prevent new hair from falling out.

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