When faced with hair loss or thinning hair, many men immediately look to prescription medications as a solution. During the late 70s and early 80s, a little-known heart medication was causing an unusual side effect for male users; it was regrowing lost hair on the scalp in some patients. For many men, this was a very welcome side effect, so it was tested as a topical treatment for hair loss, and it produced promising results. The drug was called Minoxidil, and while it fell out of favor as a heart medication, it was approved by the FDA in 1988 as a hair loss medication. Since that time prescription Minoxidil has proven itself by slowing down the hair loss process, and in some cases men and women will regrow lost hair on the scalp.
Minoxidil required a prescription until 1995; a 2% version of this hair loss medicine became available over-the-counter that year. Today, Rogaine, (the brand name for Minoxidil) can be purchased over the counter in 5% strength. There are a number of generic Minoxidil hair loss medicine formulas available for men and women over-the-counter as well.
Another medication, called Finasteride, was originally prescribed to treat enlarged prostate glands in men, but doctors soon discovered that it was stopping male pattern baldness as well. In some cases, it was stimulating new hair growth for some users. Finasteride works by blocking the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a byproduct of the hormone testosterone. DHT attaches itself to hair follicles, and prevents hair from growing in the normal hair growth process. It is thought that the same bodily processes in males that can cause hair loss are also related to prostate issues, since they both stem from the hormone DHT.
In 1998 Finasteride was approved by the FDA as a hair loss medicine and treatment. Unlike Minoxidil, Finasteride still requires a prescription from a doctor. These two drugs are the only ones that have been officially approved by the FDA as hair loss medications. Many of the other products on the market for male hair loss, such as Procerin, are classified as supplements and do not require a prescription.
Minoxidil and Finasteride have changed the lives of thousands of men in a positive way, but there is a dark side to these drugs when they are used as hair loss medicine for an extended length of time. Some of the side effects include dizziness and fainting, swollen hands and feet, a rapid heart rate, chest pains, and weight gain of 5 pounds or more. Frequent visits to the doctor while taking these drugs for hair loss is not unusual. Finasteride is well-known to have sexual side effects for some men, although the manufacturer claims this effects only a small percentage of users.
If you are considering getting a prescription for a hair loss medication, or are already using one and suffering some of the known side effects, you may wish to consider alternatives to medications. To learn more about a safer, effective product for male hair loss that is available without a prescription, visit