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7 Topical Treatments for Hair Loss

By HERWriter
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 7 topical ways to treat hair loss Lev Dolgachov/PhotoSpin

Hair loss can take an emotional toll on your appearance and your self-confidence. There are a number of topical products available you may want to try if you are having more hair loss than you are comfortable with.


Minoxidil (Rogaine) was first used as an anti-hypertensive medication but excess hair growth in various areas of the body (hypertrichosis) was found to be a side effect.

The FDA approved a 2 percent solution for use in female pattern hair loss and a 5 percent solution for men. Minoxidil acts to increase the time the hair is in its anagen (growth) phase and increases hair follicle size.

The recommended dosage is twice-a-day use of 25 drops (1 ml) spread evenly over the top of a dry scalp. To avoid excess hair growth on the face, users should wash their hands thoroughly after application.

Minoxidil has a good safety profile. Side effects are infrequently reported but include: skin irritation, contact dermatitis, facial hair growth, scalp dryness and increased hair shedding when first starting the medication. Stopping the use of minoxidil will result in gradual loss of the hair grown.


You've probably heard about the medication used for the glaucoma treatment that was found to increase the length of eyelashes as a side effect. Latanoprost and bimatoprost are the prostaglandins in glaucoma medications that increased the eyelash hair growth.

The FDA approved use of bimatoprost in 2008 to treat eyelash alopecia. More research will be needed to determine the best concentration and how it can be used for head hair growth.


Ketoconazole is used as an anti-fungal treatment for dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. It is unclear how ketoconazole works to increase hair growth.

It is thought that its anti-inflammatory action, its ability to control the growth of the skin fungus Malassezia and its affect on the androgen levels at the hair follicle level are at play. Ketoconazole is frequently used along with minoxidil.


Spironolactone has been used orally for hair loss. It also has been found to be effective in a 1 percent solution in promoting hair growth according to Medscape, but the study they cited was from 1997.

Wisegeek said that a 5 percent cream solution has been effective in stopping hair loss but not promoting hair growth.


Melatonin has been found to increase hair growth in animal studies. A small study where 40 women were treated topically for six months with 1 ml daily of 0.1 percent melatonin-alcohol solution and showed a statistically significant amount of hair growth in the backs of their heads, said Medscape.

Searching the web, it was difficult to find melatonin in liquid form to purchase but there are a few sites that sell it if you want to try it.


There are no large studies that test how well laser use improves hair growth but there is an FDA-approved product called HairMax LaserComb ($495) for this purpose. The laser is used three times a week for 15-20 minutes by gliding it along the scalp.

"After about six months it can grow some hair in about 25 percent of cases," said New York City dermatologist Marc Avram, MD, who did a small trial on the device in his office as reported on Oprah.com.

Thickening products and styling techniques

According to About.com, thickening shampoos contain glycerine, which helps the hair absorb water, which causes swelling of the hair shaft. Because this can make the hair more susceptible to damage, you should follow up with a good conditioner.

Conditioners that thicken hair coat the hair with a layer of protein that can fill in damaged areas and add smoothness.

Styling tricks for thinning hair include keeping hair at shoulder level with a blunt cut so hair does not appear wispy. If you have thicker hair in the front, deep bangs can help conceal a thinning crown.


Topical Agents for Hair Growth Promotion. What Is Out There? Skin Therapy Letter. 2013;18(4) Retrieved via Medscape.com. April 28, 2014.

The Truth About Hair Loss. Oprah.com. Retrieved April 28, 2014.

A Guide to Men's Shampoo and Conditioner. Choosing the Right Product for Your Hair. About.com Mens Hair. Retrieved April 28, 2014.

Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles

Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.