A Griffin Center Series: Myths and Truths about Hair Loss Part III: Do over-the-counter, topical hair loss products really work?
There is a huge market for over –the–counter topical medications that claim to be the miracle solution to hair re-growth. But do these hair restoration products really work? The best answer I can give to this question is that “other products work better.”
The majority of these hair tonics, shampoos, and lotions available in drug stores prove to be ineffective. In fact, the only proven effective topical drug on the market is Rogaine® (5% Minoxidil), which has actually worked in some cases to restore hair. However, these results were almost always seen in patients that are just starting to lose their hair, and work better to slow down hair loss instead of re-growing more hair. There are also other effective topical prescription compounds for hairloss such as Rogaine 5% mixed with Retin-A that may be prescribed by Dr. Griffin. It is important to note, that restoring hair, especially through topical medications, is a very gradual process – taking anywhere from 6 months to a year of daily application.
Non-topical medications, such as Propecia ® and Avodart®, can be a more effective medical solution for hair re-growth. The oral medication Propecia ® contains Finasteride, which is actually FDA approved for the treatment of male pattern baldness. Propecia ® and oral medications like it have shown better results however, in conjunction with topical products, like Rogaine®, that containMinoxidil (namely the 5% Extra Strength formula). Avodart® is usually only prescribed for patients who have not had favorable results with Finasteride. Additionally, your doctor may choose to increase your Finestride dose from the typical 1mg to 2.5mg (for women who cannot become pregnant and men) if favorable results aren’t obtained in a timely manner.
While over-the-counter options continue to evolve, and may seem like the easy fix, it’s important to note that the best hair restoration results are obtained through a customized treatment plan along with a proper evaluation by a certified professional.