Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Male Pattern Baldness

Many men experience some signs of balding as they age. In fact by the age of 30 about 1 out of every 3 men will be missing a little up top. Many men are comfortable with their new streamlined look, but some will try anything to reverse the process. The good news for those that care is that there are two FDA approved treatments currently available that really do help. They may not be perfect and they certainly won?t give you that Fabio look you?ve always wanted, but for some they are worth it.

The treatments are Minoxidil (Rogaine and others) which are available over the counter and Propecia (finasteride) which is prescription only.

Minoxidil (Rogaine and others)
Originally Minoxidil was used as a medication in the form of a pill to treat high blood pressure. One of the side effects was that people began to grow back hair they had lost. So the topical cream was developed to specifically treat hair loss. Users must apply the cream twice a day and there are two strengths currently available: 2% and 5%.

Minoxidil acts to stimulate new hair growth and works in about 60% of all men. The hair that grows back may be so called "baby hair," or may be more natural looking. In order to determine if it?s going to work you need to take it for at least a year which brings us to the major downside — the cost — about $30 per month for the extra strength (5%) treatment. Other side effects can include some itching and irritation of the skin.

The Minoxidil treatments work best for men who have started losing their hair in the last 5 years and so are commonly in the 20-40 age range.

Finasteride (Propecia)
Finasteride is available by prescription only under the name Propecia. This treatment works differently to Minoxidil and in most men acts to slow or prevent you from losing hair in the first place, but will also grow back some hair in almost two thirds of men. Propecia is taken in pill form once a day and is also expensive, about $45-50 per month. Once again you are going to have to give it at least 6 months to a year to see if it?s working for you. The side effects can include impotence in about 1% of men and reduced sexual drive in about 2%.

Cautions
These treatments are for male pattern baldness only (known as androgenic alopecia). If you start to lose your hair in patches or in large amounts, you should consult with your doctor as there may be a different cause.

Summary
Both these treatments can help fight against baldness, but once you stop taking them you are likely to lose all that hair back again within only a few months. They seem to work better for men who are losing their hair from the tops of their heads and not so well for those with receding hairlines. So if you think it?s worth the money and it?s important to you, you might consider them. Talk to your doctor to see which treatment is right for you.

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