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Is Your Hair Taking a Break?
Date:7/29/2009

n both male- and female-pattern hair loss, the hair stays on the head for a shorter time due to a short growth phase, resulting in baby fine hairs that do not reach their full length or diameter.

Fortunately, several treatment options are effective for women with hair loss. Minoxidil 2% is the only topical medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for female-pattern hair loss. Minoxidil 5% is only FDA-approved for male-pattern hair loss, but it has been shown to be very effective in women as well. Both the 2% and 5% solutions are available over-the-counter. While minoxidil does not grow new hair, it works by prolonging the growth phase of hair -- providing more time for hair to grow out to its full density.

"Minoxidil is a wonderful option for women with thinning hair, as it only treats the hair you want to keep that is not reaching its maximum growth and is an easy way to fill in hair density," said Dr. McMichael. "Although minoxidil is an over-the-counter treatment, women should consult their dermatologist who is experienced with the product and can explain how it works and off-set any known side effects -- such as irritation or fine facial hair that could develop along the cheeks and jaw line."

In some cases, other medications may be used off-label to treat female hair loss, including finasteride (which is FDA-approved for male-pattern hair loss) for women of non-childbearing age only, and the anti-androgens spironolactone and flutamide that work by blocking the male hormone testosterone at the cellular level of the hair follicle. These oral medications also may be an option for women who may not want to spend time applying minoxidil every day. Dr. McMichael also noted that hair transplantation is an extremely effective procedure for women who want to fully restore their lost hair and works best in conjunction with topical or oral medications to prevent further hair loss.


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SOURCE American Academy of Dermatology
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