What are the treatment therapies for female pattern hair loss?
There are several treatments that may work to help halt and/or regrow hair lost to female pattern hair loss. Currently, the only FDA approved hair loss treatment for women is Rogaine (2% Minoxidil), although an extra strength Rogaine for women (5% Minoxidil) is expected to be approved within the next year. Other treatments can be prescribed "off-label" (used for an indication other than it is approved for) by your physician.
In women, minoxidil (rogaine for women) has been proven to show minimal improvements in 50 percent of women and moderate improvements in 13 percent. Minoxidil requires a twice a day application of either the 2-percent or 5 percent solutions. The downside is treatment is lifelong. Any gain achieved with minoxidil will be lost if the patient stops using the product.
Minoxidil first made the headlines when it was sanctioned as male prescription treatment in the late 1980s. By the 1990s it was available over the counter for both men and women. It works by arresting follicular shrinking, which in turn restricts hair growth. The idea is that once the follicles are freed-up then hair can begin to grow back (or at the very least no more should be lost). Test results offer a real source of hope, with a 2% minoxidil solution proving effective in approximately half of all users. FDA approval guarantees that the dug has been thoroughly tested, which means the chances of any side effects are slim. However, it's important to discuss all health implications with your dermatologist.
If minoxidil doesn't work dermatologists may prescribe spironolactone. It's a synthetic steroid originally designed to reduce high blood pressure, which in this case means that it's a 'water pill' or diuretic - so it's important to keep a clinical eye on electrolyte loss. It works by 'blocking' the male hormone receptors that cause hair loss (more specifically DHT). Anyone familiar with male hair loss treatment will recognize that it works in a similar way to finasteride (the only other hair loss medication to have been passed by the FDA). What's so far prevented finasteride from receiving the FDA's nod of approval for female hair loss is that it's though to cause possible fetal abnormalities. This hasn't stopped some dermatologists prescribing finasteride for post-menopausal women. However, they should be well aware of the possible complications.