Today I will discuss the usage of Rogaine and Propecia for hair loss. Rogaine is an over the counter medication that comes in a liquid form and a foam form and comes in 2% and 5% strengths. For male patients I typically recommend Rogaine foam 5% twice a day after showering and before bed. Rogaine typically works only in the crown region and is best at slowing down the rate of hair loss and in some cases taking the miniaturized hair (hair that is on it’s way out for good) and turning it back into healthy hair. The exact mechanism of Rogaine is unknown, but it is thought to promote increased blood flow to the scalp by relaxing the small blood vessels that supply the blood flow to the scalp. Rogaine 5% is approved for men, and only the 2% formulation is approved for use in women. The 5% formulation may have better efficacy in women, but it can cause hair growth on the face that is reversible when discontinued.
Propecia is an oral medication that is taken once a day. It works by blocking the conversion of testosterone into DHT which can cause hair loss. The effect of taking the medication is that it can regrow hair in some instances and can also convert miniaturized hair that is on the verge of falling out forever into healthy hair, that is cosmetically significant. Propecia is not indicated for use in women.
There have been many claims about Propecia recently, and various side effects it may cause. I typically have all my patients that are considering Propecia read a detailed explanation of all the benefits and possible side effects prior to beginning to take the propecia. I have seen excellent results with patients using propecia, and in my experience younger patients tend to respond the best to this medication.
There is also anecdotal evidence that propecia and rogaine together produce a more significant effect than either medication independent of the other. The exact cause is unknown, but there seems to be some sort of synergy between the two medications.