Medications will likely be the first course of treatment for hair loss. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications generally consist of topical creams and gels that you apply directly to the scalp. The most common products contain an ingredient called minoxidil (Rogaine).
According to the AAD, your doctor may recommend minoxidil in conjunction with other hair loss treatments. Side effects of minoxidil include scalp irritation and hair growth in adjacent areas, such as your forehead or face.
Prescription medications may also treat hair loss. Doctors prescribe the oral medication finasteride (Propecia) for male-pattern baldness. You take this medication daily to slow hair loss. Some men experience new hair growth when taking finasteride.
Rare side effects of finasteride include diminished sex drive and impaired sexual function. There may be a link between the use of finasteride and a more serious type (high-grade) of prostate cancer, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Doctor also prescribe corticosteroids like prednisone. Individuals with alopecia areata can use this to reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. Corticosteroids mimic the hormones made by your adrenal glands.
A high amount of corticosteroid in the body reduces inflammation and suppresses the immune system.
You should monitor side effects from these medications carefully. Possible side effects include:
glaucoma, a collection of eye diseases that can result in optic nerve damage and vision loss
fluid retention and swelling in the lower legs
higher blood pressure
high blood sugar
There is evidence that corticosteroid use may also put you at higher risk for the following conditions:
calcium loss from bones, which may lead to osteoporosis
thin skin and easy bruising
Sometimes, medications aren’t enough to stop hair loss. There are surgical procedures to treat baldness.
Hair Transplant Surgery
Hair transplant surgery involves moving small plugs of skin, each with a few hairs, to bald parts of your scalp.
This works well for people with inherited baldness since they typically lose hair on the top of the head. Because this type of hair loss is progressive, you would need multiple surgeries over time.
In a scalp reduction, a surgeon removes part of your scalp that lacks hair. The surgeon then closes the area with a piece of your scalp that has hair. Another option is a flap, in which your surgeon folds scalp that has hair over a bald patch. This is a type of scalp reduction.
Tissue expansion can also cover bald spots. It requires two surgeries. In the first surgery, a surgeon places a tissue expander under a part of your scalp that has hair and is next to the bald spot. After several weeks, the expander stretches out the part of your scalp that has hair.
In the second surgery, your surgeon removes the expander and pulls the expanded area of scalp with hair over the bald spot.
These surgical remedies for baldness tend to be expensive, and they carry risks. These include:
patchy hair growth
Your graft might also not take, meaning that you would need to repeat the surgery.
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