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No matter your age or gender, dealing with hair loss can be frustrating. There are many hair loss products available on the market, which can add to the overwhelm. Additionally, visiting a dermatologist or hair loss specialist can be expensive.

Medications are available to treat male and female pattern hair loss. Many are designed to slow hair loss, stimulate new hair growth, or both.

To simplify your options, we’ll do a deep dive into the best medications for hair loss, their effectiveness, and their side effects.

Language matters

In this article, we use “male and female” to refer to someone’s sex as determined by their chromosomes, and “men and women” when referring to their gender (unless quoting from sources using nonspecific language).

Sex is determined by chromosomes, and gender is a social construct that can vary between time periods and cultures. Both of these aspects are acknowledged to exist on a spectrum both historically and by modern scientific consensus.

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With so many medications available for people experiencing hair loss, it is not easy to declare which one works the best overall. User experiences and results will vary from person to person and you may not see the same results as someone else using the same medication.

We will take a look at the most popular hair loss medications, both prescription and over-the-counter options, to help you familiarize yourself with the treatments that a medical professional might recommend.


When you think of hair loss medications, the brand name Rogaine may come to mind. The active ingredient in Rogaine is minoxidil, a non-prescription hair loss medication that is available over the counter.

Minoxidil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a treatment for female pattern hair loss. But it’s used off label for a variety of hair loss conditions.

While Rogaine is a popular and common brand of minoxidil products, it’s not the only option. Minoxidil is available in a variety of over-the-counter hair loss products that are applied topically.

Minoxidil formulas typically consist of liquids, foams, and shampoos. In studies, minoxidil was applied to hair that was completely dry. Most manufacturers suggest you apply it to dry or towel-dried hair.

It can take at least 4 months to see results.

How does minoxidil work?

This medication works, in part, by shortening the resting phase of the hair growth cycle and moving hairs into the active growth phase. However, the exact mechanism by which minoxidil works isn’t fully understood yet.


Finasteride is a prescription hair loss medication that’s taken orally. It’s also available in a few prescription products that are applied topically.

This hair loss medication can be used to treat male pattern hair loss. A 2018 study showed that finasteride can be used to slow hair loss and help stimulate new hair regrowth in men.

How does finasteride work?

This medication works by blocking the action of an enzyme that converts the hormone testosterone to another hormone, dihydrotestosterone, that causes hair loss.


Some medications used for hair loss are actually medications for other health conditions. Spironolactone is a diuretic pill that’s used to treat high blood pressure, and it can also be used off label as a hair loss treatment for women. It’s a prescription drug taken orally. Aldactone is a brand of medication containing spironolactone, but generic versions are also available.

When it comes to hair loss, spironolactone is specifically used for women because it targets certain hormones.

A 2013 review looked at spironolactone as a medication for female pattern hair loss. Research showed it to be an effective treatment for reducing hair loss, especially when combined with minoxidil. Also, a 2023 review showed that topical spironolactone was an effective treatment for androgenic alopecia and was safe for both men and women.

How does spironolactone work?

This medication works by slowing down male hormones called androgens, which includes testosterone. It slows down hair loss due to androgenic alopecia and helps hair regrowth.


Dutasteride is an oral prescription drug used to treat an enlarged prostate in males. It may also be a treatment option for those with androgenic alopecia.

A 2019 review showed it to have a higher effectiveness than finasteride, and the two have comparable side effects.

It works similarly to finasteride, so it should not be taken by females.

How does dutasteride work?

This medication works much like finasteride. It inhibits the enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.

When using any topical products or taking oral medications, there may be side effects or possible interactions. If you are concerned about certain side effects or want to know if you can take a hair loss medication with other drugs, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Side effects of topical hair loss treatments like minoxidil can include:

  • darkening of body hair
  • growth of body hair
  • irritation and dermatitis on the scalp

Hair loss medications, such as finasteride and dutasteride, can have side effects related to sexual health, such as:

  • low sex drive
  • trouble getting an erection and ejaculating
  • increased breast size

Side effects of spironolactone can include:

Spironolactone can also be associated with developmental issues for a fetus. Avoid getting pregnant while taking it.

If you experience any side effects while taking hair loss medications, notify your doctor or pharmacist immediately.

The most accessible hair loss treatments are those made with minoxidil. Brands like Rogaine are widely available over the counter at pharmacies and online retailers.

Prescription drugs used to treat hair loss — finasteride, spironolactone, and dutasteride — are more accessible with subscription-based telehealth platforms like Hims, Keeps, and Roman.


Hims is a telemedicine company that offers treatments for a variety of health conditions, including hair loss for men.

Over-the-counter products, such as minoxidil foams and solutions, are available for anyone to purchase.

If you’re interested in prescription-strength products, such as oral finasteride, Hims can connect you with a healthcare professional from your own home.

The cost of Hims varies considerably. A 3-month supply of some of their most popular hair loss products is priced at $195.


Keeps uses a subscription model to send hair loss treatments to your doorstep.

They offer prescriptions for oral finasteride and topical ketoconazole, an antifungal medication that is sometimes used to treat hair loss.

Keeps products cost between $30 and $120 for a 3-month supply. Your first 3 months are usually discounted. Your first consultation is free, and additional annual consultations are $5 each.


Roman is a telemedicine company for men’s health conditions like erectile dysfunction and hair loss. Their hair loss offerings include finasteride and minoxidil products starting at $20 and $16 per month, respectively.

For treatments that require a prescription, you’ll have direct access to a team of healthcare professionals.

Some at-home strategies and lifestyle changes may help minimize hair loss.

Certain vitamins and supplements may be helpful. Vitamin A, vitamin C, B vitamins, and vitamin D are all beneficial for hair health. Iron and zinc may also curb hair loss.

A high protein diet may be recommended. Hair is made up of protein, so getting enough protein in your diet is important for hair growth.

Other professional treatments include laser devices and microneedling. Steroid injections, hair transplants, and platelet-rich plasma procedures may be options to consider, although these are more common treatments for inflammatory hair loss.

It may be a surprise to you when you first start noticing your hair thinning or begin to see the early signs of hair loss. Maybe, it’s even something that you’ve been aware of for a while and are starting to wonder which medications are available. Either way, addressing hair loss as soon as possible could help you hold onto your hair, slow hair thinning, or even promote hair regrowth.

If you aren’t ready to meet with a doctor just yet, there are over-the-counter treatments you could consider using, but those results may take several months to see.

However, if you aren’t seeing the results you expect after a few months of use, consider making an appointment with your doctor.

Connecting with a doctor as soon as you see the early signs of hair loss may result in an early diagnosis and both of you can discuss which options are available. If your doctor recommends a medication or dosage that’s not available over-the-counter, they can write you a prescription for a stronger medication and can explain the side effects and risks tied to its use.

A dermatologist may recommend over-the-counter (OTC) topical minoxidil as a first treatment option. A doctor might also prescribe oral finasteride or spironolactone. These medications are FDA-approved for certain conditions that cause hair loss. Other prescription medications may be available as an off-label use for hair loss.

Hair loss may be a side effect of some nutritional deficiencies. Low levels of vitamin D, selenium, zinc, and iron may cause hair loss. Over-supplementation of some nutrients, such as vitamin A, vitamin E, and selenium, may also cause hair loss.

Your appearance, and therefore your hair, can be a source of confidence. When you notice the signs of hair loss, your confidence may waver. If you’re experiencing hair loss, you’re not alone.

Many people experience hair loss at some point in their lives, and there are many treatments available. Medications have been shown to be an effective treatment option for hair loss. Many are easy to find using online telemedicine services.

Lacey Muinos is a health, wellness, and beauty writer based in Southern California. She holds a BA in English. Her work has appeared in digital publications like Livestrong, Verywell, Business Insider, Eat This Not That, and others. When she’s not writing, Lacey is likely pursuing her other interests: skin care, plant-based cooking, pilates, and traveling. You can keep up with her by visiting herwebsite or herblog.