Although our practice mainly focuses on treating hair thinning and loss through means of topical prescriptions, laser therapy, and platelet-rich plasma therapy, we often come across patients asking about oral prescription medicines and whether or not they might benefit from them. Because there are many factors that can contribute to, as well as, cause hair loss in women, it is often tricky to tell if you will respond to an oral medication…that’s where we come in!
Currently, the only oral prescriptions available to treat hair loss are used “off-label”, meaning they are not yet FDA approved for their use to treat hair. Unfortunately, these medications have only been shown to be effective to help treat Androgenetic Alopecia (male and female pattern hair loss) and it is still not very clear how well they work for women specifically. The medications in question are Spironolactone (aka Aldactone), and Finasteride (aka Propecia). Spironolactone works by blocking androgens (or hair loss inducing hormones), while Finasteride inhibits a pesky little enzyme that converts the hormone testosterone into a metabolite called DHT. Although this mechanism of action has shown to be very helpful, especially for men, it is not always as effective for women. As women, not only do we have other hormones circulating in our bodies, but we may have other reasons why our hair is thinning or falling out, so this process isn’t as straight forward as it is with men. Furthermore, because these two medications affect the activity of our hormones, Finasteride is only recommended in women who are post-menopausal, and women who take Spironolactone should be on some form of contraceptive if they are of child-bearing age.
With that said, it is important to not only identify whether or not your hair loss is due to Androgenetic Alopecia, but to also try to determine if these medications are worth a shot if you do! Here at Medi Tresse, part of our evaluation often includes looking at bloodwork. The results of these blood tests can tell us a lot about your hormones and often help determine a possible causative for your hair thinning or loss. By evaluating the test results, we can help you determine if you would be a good candidate for the above medications.
Posted by Lacey Sellati, RN, PA-C