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Hair loss products

Hair loss can be an extremely frustrating problem to deal with. Not only is it embarrassing and sometimes even painful, it is a personal problem that can lead to emotional withdrawal and in extreme cases, the onset of agoraphobia – a mental condition in which people experience reluctance to leave the safe cocoon of their own homes.

It is no wonder then that many people will try almost all hair loss products in hopes of a cure. Unfortunately, there are plenty of companies that take advantage of this desperation by producing and promoting so-called solutions that are anything but. The average patient has spent hundreds of dollars on worthless ointments, hair loss shampoos, creams, and hair loss pills, only to find out that the only thing they have lost is their money, not the problem causing them so much anguish.

So, what is the truth about hair loss products? Which treatments truly work, and which will end up being a waste of money? This short solutions guide will discuss the following broad approaches toward hair treatment:

Hair loss shampoos

Most hair loss shampoos concentrate on achieving one or more of the following goals:

  • cleansing
  • deep-cleansing the scalp – removing chemical buildup
  • conditioning the scalp
  • coating with thickening agents
  • promoting fullness and body

As should be readily apparent, none of the above effects will actually treat the problem. They serve to make the condition more manageable by making hair appear full and bountiful even when it’s not. In addition, it is believed that a healthy scalp will promote the growth – at the very least, it won’t hurt the condition to create a healthy environment for the hair follicles there.

There are some hair loss shampoos that attempt to do more condition and conceal. These hair loss products contain vitamins or medications to help treat the underlying hair loss. In the case of vitamins, this is a less than effective approach. Many shampoos contain biotin, a B vitamin known to be essential for growth, but coating your head with biotin is useless; it must be taken internally to have any effect.

Medications in shampoos are more efficacious. Nano is an example of a shampoo that contains medicated agents. Users of Nano report that it is effective in treating hair loss, although detailed clinical studies furnish mixed results. Nano is an expensive option when it comes to hair loss shampoos.

Topical treatments

The standout product in this category is the chemical Minoxidil, which is marketed under the brand name Rogaine by Upjohn, the company that first developed it for prescription use. Minoxidil is now available under several other brand names because Upjohn’s exclusive patent has expired. In addition, Minoxidil no longer requires a doctor’s prescription. Anyone who wishes to try it can do so.

Most companies that market minoxidil treatments produce two formulations, one intended for men and one for women.  The major difference between the formulations is the concentration of active ingredient in the topical solution. It may be tempting for women to use the men’s product, since it contains more minoxidil, but this is not recommended; research studies have shown that using more than the recommended amount of topical solution will not lead to faster hair growth, nor will it cause more hair to grow.

Minoxidil comes as a liquid that is applied to the scalp area, usually to the crown of the scalp. Users are cautioned to make sure that no liquid touches any other skin area as this may cause the growth of hair in unwanted areas such as the fingertips. An eyedropper is supplied so that a precisely measured dose can be precisely delivered to the correct area.

Medicated serums

Minoxidil is the active ingredient in most hair loss topical serum. These treatments come in liquid form and are applied to the scalp using either an eyedropper or a metered spray applicator. In both cases it is important to apply the correct amount of liquid on a regular basis, twice a day, sometimes for as much as a year before effects become apparent. Many users begin to experience positive results in as little as four months.

Oral medications for hair loss

The best oral treatment for is the chemical finasteride, which is marketed under the brand name Propecia or Nioxin. Unlike minoxidil, finasteride still requires a doctor’s prescription. It is available in tablet form and in some studies has been even more effective than minoxidil at causing the growth of new hair. While perhaps a third of men using Rogaine treatment will see new hair growth, a majority grew new hair when taking Propecia.

Propecia has another advantage in that it requires no messy application of a liquid. Users of minoxidil report that the topical treatment tends to run down their scalp and onto their faces, and that care must be taken to rinse off all such liquid trails lest hair grow in those locations. Taking a tablet is much simpler and eliminates this problem.

Disadvantages of Propecia include the fact that is a product developed only for men, not women, and that it may cause sexual dysfunction in some patients.

Both Propecia and Rogaine share one major disadvantage:  treatment effects are not permanent. The patient must continue taking the medication or applying the liquid for the rest of his life in order for newly grown hair to persist. Hair gained via treatment will fall out if the treatment is halted, even temporarily.

When talking with your doctor about treatments, be ready to not only listen, but also to talk. Don’t settle for a treatment just because your physician has recommended it. Ask why that treatment was selected in particular and how it compares to others. By being an active partner in your health care, you’ll be in a better position to find the right hair loss products.

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