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It’s typical to lose up to 100 hairs daily. However, if you’re losing a notable amount of hair on a day-to-day basis, you may be experiencing male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia.
Regarded as the most common cause of hair loss, androgenic alopecia is commonly referred to as male pattern hair loss. And while there are many causes for hair loss, some can be controlled or reduced through at-home regimens. Doctor-prescribed topical and oral medications may also help.
In this article, we’ll go over some of the most effective and popular male pattern hair loss treatments to consider.
Androgenic alopecia is the most common type of hair loss in men. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, more than 50 percent of all men over the age of 50 will be affected by male pattern baldness to some extent.
There are many factors that can cause androgenic alopecia. Genetics or a family history of baldness may cause it to occur. Inherited male pattern baldness typically has no side effects.
Besides androgenic alopecia, there can be other causes of hair loss, like medication, thyroid conditions, or other illnesses.
Since there are many underlying causes of hair loss, it can be helpful to consult a dermatologist before you start any type of treatment.
A dermatologist who understands this condition can determine if genetics, an underlying medical condition, or environmental irritants are the cause. You can find a dermatologist who specializes in hair loss through the American Academy of Dermatology.
If you’re experiencing rapid hair loss or thinning, you should see a doctor to decide the best course of action. Your doctor will likely take a thorough look at your medical and family history and examine your scalp.
They may also do the following:
- Blood test. This might help reveal underlying medical conditions that are causing hair loss.
- Pull test. This is when your doctor gently grasps several small sections of hair (about 40 strands) from different parts of the scalp. A pull test can help determine the stage of hair loss.
- Scalp biopsy. This is when your doctor scrapes samples from the skin or from a few hairs plucked from the scalp to examine the hair roots under a microscope. This process can help determine whether an infection is causing the hair loss.
- Light microscopy. Your doctor uses a special instrument to examine hairs trimmed at their bases. A microscopy may uncover possible disorders of the hair shaft.
Hair loss treatments for androgenic alopecia don’t permanently cure hair loss and they only work while you use them. For that reason, we included products that could be purchased in 3-month supplies, as well as subscription services that provide monthly deliveries.
Some products, such as minoxidil, are sold by many manufacturers. We included only brand-name products with good reputations and solid reviews.
We also included an alcohol-free version of minoxidil, for those who find alcohol irritating to the scalp.
Based on research, laser combs and devices
Hair loss can be upsetting for some people. There are many products promising a solution. We only chose products with active ingredients that have research backing up claims.
Finasteride is an oral prescription medication sold generically and under the brand name Propecia. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for male pattern baldness. Finasteride slows down hair loss and stimulates the growth of new hair.
How does finasteride work?
Propecia inhibits 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into a more potent hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, which eventually leads to baldness.
Finasteride may be most effective if you take it before you notice too much hair loss.
How long does it take to work?
It can take 3 to 6 months before you start seeing results with finasteride. It’s also not a permanent fix. If you stop taking it, hair loss will resume.
How much does finasteride cost?
Health insurance doesn’t typically cover this medication when it’s prescribed for hair loss. Based on the pharmacy or service you use, Propecia can cost between $30 and $80 per month or more.
Generic finasteride may be less expensive, costing between $20 and $60 per month or more. These costs will vary based on seller and location.
Finasteride and its brand-name version are available by prescription from a doctor. See more in the Telemedicine section below.
Minoxidil is a topical treatment that should be applied directly to the scalp. It’s sold over the counter and does not require a prescription.
How does minoxidil work?
Minoxidil is a vasodilator that widens blood vessels under the skin, increasing blood flow. Its exact mechanism for treating hair loss is not completely understood.
Minoxidil is most effective for androgenic alopecia when used early. It may also be more effective when used with finasteride.
You may notice that your hair starts to shed early on when you start using minoxidil. This is common and indicates that your individual hairs are shifting from the resting stage to the growing stage.
Like finasteride, minoxidil only works for as long as you use it. Once you stop treatment, hair loss will resume.
How much does minoxidil cost?
Minoxidil is sold in different strengths and forms. The strength, label name, and seller will determine how much you pay. Rogaine is typically the most expensive, at around $45 for a 3-month supply. Other brands of minoxidil usually cost $20 to $25 for a 3-month supply.
HairMax laser hair growth devices
Laser combs, bands, and caps are said to stimulate hair follicle growth with low-level, laser light.
How much does a hair regrowth device cost?
There are several laser hair growth devices manufactured by HairMax. They range in price from around $200 to around $550.
The difference between each device is the number of lasers they contain. No data indicate that more lasers mean more hair growth, so keep that in mind when you buy.
These devices get mixed reviews, but many are positive. Some users say they see a real difference in hair growth. Others say that laser combs, bands, and caps are most beneficial when used with other products, such as minoxidil or finasteride.
Online telemedicine services
There are several online services that provide telehealth and cloud pharmacy prescriptions for a variety of hair loss products and treatments. They include:
Let’s take a closer look at two of them.
You can get a prescription for Propecia or for generic finasteride through Lemonaid.
To get started, you’ll fill out an online assessment questionnaire, followed by a phone or video consultation. The consultation fee is $25, and it’s not covered by insurance.
If one of Lemonaid’s professionals determines that finasteride may help, the medication can be shipped to your home from Lemonaid’s mail order pharmacy. It should arrive in 3 to 5 business days.
Medications filled through the online service are cash pay. If you prefer to use your own pharmacy, Lemonaid will send your prescription there.
Not everyone can use Lemonaid for hair loss. If you are assigned female at birth or have certain medical conditions, such as liver disease or prostate cancer, Lemonaid’s care won’t benefit you.
Roman is an online men’s healthcare service that provides medical support and prescriptions for hair loss, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and other conditions. It staffs licensed healthcare professionals.
A free, medical online assessment will be done to determine if you can access medication through Roman. Like Lemonaid, you must meet specific criteria and not have a condition that would be better treated in person by a doctor.
Roman sells monthly subscriptions of finasteride and minoxidil. Monthly subscription costs start at $20. If you purchase a combination of both treatments, your monthly cost will be $35.
Shipping is free. Your medications will arrive within 2 days of purchase.
What’s the most effective hair loss treatment?
Minoxidil (Rogaine) is regarded as one of the most effective hair loss treatments. Topical minoxidil can be an effective treatment for androgenic hair loss,.
Every hair loss treatment will affect people differently, though. One treatment may work better for one person than it does for another. If you decide to start using an OTC treatment without a diagnosis, you should still talk with your doctor to make sure it’s safe for you to use.
How can I permanently treat hair loss?
Permanent hair loss treatments include cosmetic procedures, like:
- Hair transplants or hair grafting. This is an outpatient procedure performed in a hair loss surgeon’s office. The doctor will remove a portion of the hair-bearing scalp from the back of the head, then transplant it to the balding area for a natural and subtle look. Several sessions are usually necessary for satisfactory results.
- Scalp reduction. This is the removal of non-hair bearing skin from the scalp so that the remaining hair bearing skin can be stretched to fill in the bald area.
You can also opt for purchasing a wig, weave, or hairpiece.
How do I know if my hair loss is permanent?
Generally, you’ll probably need to get a proper diagnosis from a doctor to find out the cause of your hair loss.
Are there any effective natural hair loss treatments?
Although there’s limited research on how effective natural hair loss treatments are, some at-home treatments to try include:
Some people find hair loss upsetting. Others aren’t bothered by it at all. No matter how you’re affected by hair loss, there are others who feel exactly the same way you do.
Since there are several conditions that can affect hair growth and loss, seeing a doctor prior to self-treating is important. You can also choose to use an online pharmacy or buy products that don’t require a prescription.
Since medications for hair loss only produce active results while you’re taking them, you can also consider surgical hair restoration, like a hair transplant. This procedure is typically permanent but expensive, costing $10,000 or more.
There’s no wrong choice. It’s up to you to decide which strategy makes the most sense for you.
Hair loss can have several underlying causes. To determine what’s causing your hair to thin or fall out, see a dermatologist.
Male pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia) is usually treated with finasteride, minoxidil, or both. Hair loss products can be purchased online from retailers or from online subscription services.