As of now, only two treatments are known to generate hair where there is none. Surgical techniques like grafting and transplanting are the option. While they almost always have positive results, many people are not willing to undergo the cost and time required for the multiple operations. The other option which has demonstrated benefits for some patients is the application of minoxidil, which has been approved by the FDA only as a 2 percent topical solution. It is not an answer for all people, however. Studies have shown that the men most likely to benefit from minoxidil are younger than 40 with inherited hair loss on the top of the head, and with a bald spot measuring less than four inches in diameter.
In a recent double-blind controlled trial of topical minoxidil in over 300 women with inherited hair loss, it was found that 60 percent of the subjects showed some growth over the 32-week trial period. Women undergoing the minoxidil treatment averaged 34 hairs per spot compared to women receiving placebo who gained an average of 11 hairs per spot. Minoxidil patients also noted a decrease in hair shedding. No clinically relevant side effects were observed.
Hair loss, or androgenetic alopecia, is a concern to more people than almost any other appearance-related issue. Roughly 33 percent of both men and women have a strong family tendency toward inherited baldness or thinning hair as they approach middle age. Only the patterns differ: in men, hair loss often begins with a receding hairline, joined later by loss at the top of the scalp. In women, hair loss often begins as a thinning at the top of the scalp with no receding hairline.
Balding Britons have been able to buy the hair-growth drug minoxidil (Regaine) without a prescription since January last year. Now the US Food and Drug Administration has decided that Americans will be able to do so as well.
It was quite by chance that minoxidil, a treatment for high blood pressure, was found to encourage the growth of hair. After these early reports, Upjohn, the drug company which makes the product, commissioned a huge study in America to discover how consistently minoxidil produced the reaction, and for whom it worked best.
Their work showed that minoxidil helped some male patients, particularly those who were in the process of losing their hair. It seemed to stabilise the loss and prevent any more. Overall, while minimal regrowth of hair was seen in nearly a quarter of patients, moderate regrowth was seen in only 8 per cent, and in fewer than 1 per cent could it be described as dense. Although fewer than 300 women took part in the research, they appeared to respond better than men.
Currently there are several products that promote hair growth containing minoxidil. One of the most popular is called Provillus.
In order to benefit from products like Provillus for Men you have to apply the material twice a day, every day. If the treatment is stopped the hair that has regrown will fall out within three to four months. It is not cheap a minimum course of treatment is four months at Pounds 24.95 a month before any improvement can be expected, and most people who try it for this length of time could be disappointed.