Most men don’t realize this, but hair loss treatments are now really effective.
Almost all men that experience hair loss—about 95% of them—have hair loss that can be treated by standard medications. And those medications stop hair loss in about 90% of cases. If you suffer from hair loss, chances are very good that existing medications can work for you.
But most guys leave it too late. They wait until they’re in the advanced stages of hair loss before seeking treatment.
That’s a mistake.
In this article, we’ll explain why. We’ll tell you exactly how to treat hair loss, describe the differences between the various treatment options, and explain why you’ll see the best results if you treat your hair loss early.
How does hair loss happen?
To understand why timing matters in hair loss, it helps to understand how it happens in the first place.
Most hair loss in men is caused by dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a hormone that your body produces naturally. DHT binds to receptors in the scalp and causes hair follicles to get smaller or miniaturize every time the cell regenerates. Eventually, the cells get so small that they stop producing hair. They die.
Once the hair follicle dies, it can’t produce any more hair.
The trick to treating most kinds of hair loss is to reduce levels of DHT before the follicles die. That’s what the most effective hair loss treatments do.
What are the most effective hair loss treatments?
The most effective hair loss treatments are also the most common: finasteride, dutasteride, and minoxidil.
Finasteride is effective. Studies in the late 1990s found that it is able to both reduce DHT levels in the scalp and also increase hair scalp hair counts. It’s been found to result in a 15% increase in hair count from baseline.
It also works for almost everyone. It stops the progression of hair loss in 90% of individuals. In 65%, it has been found to actually reverse hair loss, boosting hair growth and resulting in noticeably thicker hair.
It’s also safe. While there are some finasteride side effects, they are relatively rare, occurring in only about 3.8% of individuals.
Finasteride works really well for people in the initial stages of hair loss, but it’s not the best choice for those in the advanced stages. Individuals with more advanced hair loss may benefit most from dutasteride or hair transplants.
Minoxidil known more commonly by its brand name Rogaine, is a topical liquid or foam that is applied to the scalp. It works by increasing blood flow and nutrients to the hair.
Research has found minoxidil to be an effective treatment option for hair loss. Studies have found that it leads to significant improvements in hair count and scalp coverage, as well as in patient ratings of their own quality of life, perception of hair growth, and even rating of their ability to style their hair.
Like finasteride, minoxidil is safe to use. Its side effects are rare; research has found that only about 4% of individuals in a sample of participants reported adverse effects.
It is considered especially effective as a complementary treatment to finasteride, and using the two together has become the gold standard for hair loss treatment.
Minoxidil can be purchased over the counter without a prescription.
Dutasteride, commonly known by its brand name Avodart, is similar to finasteride in that it is an oral medication that works by reducing DHT. The difference between the two is that dutasteride is more potent.
In several studies of American men, dutasteride has been found to be more effective than finasteride in increasing total hair count. These results were confirmed by a large review of the two treatments, which found dutasteride to be significantly more effective than finasteride. The two also have a very similar safety profile.
While it is approved in several countries as a hair loss treatment, including South Korea and Japan, it is not yet approved in Canada to treat hair loss. In Canada, dutasteride is technically only approved as a treatment for an enlarged prostate.
Because it’s not licensed as a hair treatment in Canada, it’s usually not the first treatment option. However, it can be prescribed by a doctor for off-label use to individuals with more advanced hair loss.
Why treat hair loss early?
If there are such effective hair loss treatments, why does it matter that you treat hair loss early? Because hair loss treatments are most effective when you still have hair.
The reason is that once a hair follicle cell is dead, it’s difficult to revive it. It’s gone. When most of your head is bald, you’re largely limited to hair transplants of living hair follicles.
However, if your follicles are still alive, there’s hope.
The medications described above work by blocking the DHT that disrupts your hair follicles. These treatments help protect your follicles and keep them working.
That’s why the best way to treat hair loss is to prevent it by engaging in treatment early: the sooner you get treatment, the more follicles can be protected and can continue to work properly. Treating hair loss early while your hair follicles are still alive will give you the best shot at the treatment being effective.
When should you start hair loss treatment?
Have a consultation with a doctor as soon as you notice early signs of hair loss. There are several different types of hair loss, but look for these common early warning signs:
- Gradual thinning of the hair on the top of the head
- Noticeable changes in the hairline
- Patchy or circular bald spots
- Loosening of hair
- Excessive hair loss after brushing or showering
If you experience these symptoms, seek a consultation with a medical professional – specifically one with hair loss expertise. Our clinicians at Essential Clinic will be able to conduct an assessment of your condition and provide you with advice on the best treatment options for you.
Want to know how to treat hair loss? Start early.
If you got anything out of this, let it be this: don’t wait to treat your hair loss. Get started by contacting a physician and finding the best treatment option for you.
We’ve made it easy for you. If you’re ready for your hair loss treatment, get started with an online visit.
And do it soon—the earlier you treat your hair loss, the better.
This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.