Some much-needed research on the efficacy of topical formulations for female pattern hair loss has just been published in the American Journal of Dermatology. We take a closer look.
The technical name for pattern hair loss, whether in men or women, refers to the hormones that are responsible for developing male characteristics. Androgens are produced in the testes of men but also in the ovaries and adrenal glands of women. For boys, the major androgens, testosterone, diydrotesterone (DHT) and androstenedine, are all equally important. They assist in the development of the penis, scrotum, and prostate. For girls, lower levels of androgens perform functions involving libido and sexual arousal.
As we age, the hormone DHT begins to bind to susceptible follicles causing them to miniaturize. Eventually, the shrunken follicles die before being absorbed back to become regular skin cells. Higher levels of another hormone, present in the frontal follicles save women from female hair loss in that region. Which is why we see differing patterns of balding between the sexes. Though the incidence is the same for both.
Finasteride and Minoxidil
There are only two FDA approved medications available. Finasteride, however, is not available to women due to the threat of it causing abnormalities in the fetus. This has not stopped it being provided “off label” for nearly two decades. The other is Minoxidil, a topical treatment. Like Finasteride, it is necessary to use daily with the threat of an immediate resumption of the hair loss if stopped.
Much has been made of the ability of a combination of the two medications to be superior in outcome than the sum of their parts. But female hair loss is an area of investigation that would benefit from much more work. We were delighted to see the publication of just such a study in the American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. A randomized double-blind study on the effects of just such a combination, specifically exploring efficacy for women.
The study group was split into two, with half receiving only minoxidil and the other half getting a combination of the same strength, 3%, Minoxidil with 0.25% Finasteride. The results were pretty emphatic. After 24 weeks, hair had grown in diameter and density in both groups but the combination treatment was seen to be significantly superior in regards to hair diameter. No systemic adverse effects were reported in either group.
Hair Loss For Women
The conclusion of the report was that this topical treatment may be “a promising option” in the treatment of female pattern hair loss.
That it improves the diameter of the individual hairs is encouraging, as the news that it came with no side-effects. It should be pointed out that, due to the risk to unborn fetuses, the combination treatment would only be available to post-menopausal women. You can see the original research article here. The more interested among you can buy the full report through a link on the same page.
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