Perhaps one of the greatest fears of men is hairloss. A man's hair defines his self-image and he is willing to undergo all sorts of treatment and medication to prevent the onset of hairloss or treat baldness. Male hair loss treatments can be anywhere from a topical solution to transplantation and often, people who losing their are willing to pay the price just to have it grown back. Male hair loss often responds to minoxidil and finasteride. Rogaine is the most popular brand of minoxidil and in 1996, the medicine was approved for over-the-counter sale worldwide.
As male pattern baldness occurs, hairs in the affected area become shorter and finer and are less pigmented with successive growth cycles. This type of baldness is also known as androgenic alopecia and is associated with the presence of dihydroxytesterone, which is a metabolite of testosterone. Finasteride is a competitive inhibitor of type II 5alpha-reductase that can lower dihydroxytesterone levels, preventing baldness. The pathologic causes of alopecia are often evaluated when treating baldness in men. The patient's medical history plays an important role in diagnosing the condition. The key elements considered include family history, medications, underlying medical illness, stress factors and the patterns and speed of hair loss.
Male pattern baldness is characterized by an M pattern, while patchy alopecia is usually associated with conditions such as tinea capitits, lupus erythematosus and immune-mediated alopecia areata. Telogen effluvium is alopecia that occurs after a stressful event. As of now, there are no studies that compare the effectiveness of minoxidil and finasteride.
Some medical researchers have claimed, though, that minoxidil at two percent topical solution could grow hair in about 50 percent of patients. The medicine appeared to be ineffective for frontal baldness and effective in preventing hair thinning and loss. Studies on the effectiveness of finasteride on the other hand revealed that its greatest benefit may be in preventing further hair loss in men at the early stages of baldness. Both minoxidil and finasteride have proven to be well tolerated by patients. The reported side effect of minoxidil is pruritis of the scalp, while finasteride revealed sexual side effects such as decreased libido and erectile dysfuction. Finasteride is not recommended to be used in women and children.
When counseling patients, physicians should stress that effectiveness have been primarily demonstrated in younger men. Scientists agree that further study is required to determine the long-term benefit of medications for male hair loss. It may also be possible to predict those who will respond to treatment with further study.
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