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What Should You Take For Hair Loss?

Kristin Hall, FNP

Medically reviewed by Kristin Hall, FNP

Written by Our Editorial Team

Last updated 4/28/2021

Losing hair can be a stressful experience, especially when it has a noticeable impact on the way you look. 

Hair loss can vary hugely in severity. For some, it’s a mild receding hairline that’s easy to cover up with the right hairstyle. For others, it’s severe baldness that starts early and progresses until the entire hairline and crown is hair-free.

Although dealing with hair loss can be frustrating, there are numerous steps that you can take to slow down or stop hair loss.

These include using prescription and over-the-counter medications, as well as products that can stimulate hair growth and provide your hair with the nutrients it needs to look its best.

Below, we’ve explained how and why hair loss happens, as well as the different factors that can play a role in the thickness and general health of your hair.

We’ve also explained what you can take to treat hair loss, from FDA-approved medications that prevent hair loss and stimulate regrowth to vitamins, supplements and more. 

Hair Loss: The Basics

  • Hair loss is a common issue for men. In fact, a study published in Dermatologic Surgery found that 42% of men aged 18 to 49 have moderate to extensive hair loss.

  • The most common type of hair loss in men is male pattern baldness. However, a range of other issues, such as illness, stress, infection and use of certain types of medication, may all cause you to lose hair.

  • If your hair loss is caused by male pattern baldness, it’s important to treat it early to stop it from getting worse over time.

  • Currently, the most effective treatments for hair loss are the FDA-approved medications finasteride and minoxidil.

  • We offer both of these hair loss medications online, along with numerous other products for preventing hair loss and stimulating hair growth. 

How & Why Hair Loss Happens

Hair loss can occur for a variety of reasons, from your genetics and levels of certain hormones to illnesses, stressful experiences and even certain medications.

In men, the most common form of hair loss is male pattern baldness, which occurs due to a mix of genetic and hormonal factors.

The main hormone responsible for male pattern baldness is dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. If you are genetically predisposed to male pattern baldness, DHT may bind to receptors in your scalp and cause your hair follicles to gradually constrict over time.

This process, which is referred to as miniaturization, usually starts to develop near your hairline and crown. As DHT affects your hair follicles, new hairs stop growing, resulting in thinning hair, a receding hairline or, for some men, almost total baldness.

We’ve gone into more detail about DHT and the hair loss process in our guide to DHT and male pattern baldness.

As well as male pattern baldness, several other issues may cause you to temporarily shed hair or lose hair permanently. These include:

  • Stress, injuries and illness. These can all cause a form of temporary hair loss called telogen effluvium. This type of hair loss occurs when your hairs enter the telogen (rest) phase of the hair growth cycle, which causes them to suddenly stop growing.

    Telogen effluvium hair loss tends to be diffuse and doesn’t cause a receding hairline or bald crown like male pattern baldness.

  • Medications. Some medications, such as beta-blockers, anticoagulants, retinoids and medications used to treat epilepsy, can also cause telogen effluvium hair loss.

  • Fungal infections. Tinea capitis, a fungal infection that can develop on your scalp, may cause you to experience hair shedding. When this type of infection is severe, it can even cause a form of permanent hair loss called scarring alopecia.

  • Autoimmune disorders. Some immune system diseases, such as alopecia areata, may cause you to shed hair in small, round patches. This type of hair loss is uncommon and affects an estimated one in every 500 to 1,000 people in the United States.

  • Tension on your hair. Hairstyles that put continuous pressure on your hair roots, such as dreadlocks, braids or any type of tied back hairstyle, can cause a form of permanent hair loss called traction alopecia.

    This type of hair loss can also develop if you use certain chemicals to style your hair, or if you wear a wig or hairpiece that puts tension on your hair roots.

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What to Take For Hair Loss

If you’ve noticed some of the signs of hair loss, such as excessive hair shedding or a change in your hairline, it’s important not to panic.

Hair loss is treatable. In fact, several medications are currently available that can slow down or stop most types of hair loss. In some cases, these medications can even stimulate hair growth and help you to thicken up hair in the parts of your scalp affected by shedding.

Since hair loss can occur for several reasons, it’s important to identify the type of hair loss you have before you start looking into treatments.

You can do this by talking to your primary care provider about your hair loss, by scheduling an appointment with a dermatologist, or by looking into hair loss treatments online. 

If your hair loss is caused by male pattern baldness, your healthcare provider may recommend one or both of the medications listed below:

Finasteride

Finasteride is a prescription hair loss medication. It’s designed specifically to treat male pattern baldness and works by stopping your body from converting testosterone into DHT, the hormone that causes you to lose hair. 

If you have a receding hairline, bald spot at your crown or other signs of male pattern baldness, using finasteride may help to stop your hair loss and improve your hair growth.

In one study, 99.1 percent of men who used finasteride over a 10-year period stopped their hair loss from worsening. Of the men that took part in the study, 91.5 percent saw improvements in hair growth.

A different study of finasteride, which involved two one-year trials, also found that it produced an improvement in scalp hair growth in men affected by male pattern baldness.

Finasteride comes in tablet form and needs to be taken daily. Since it works by targeting DHT, it isn’t effective at treating telogen effluvium, alopecia areata or other types of hair loss that aren’t caused by androgenic hormones.

We offer finasteride online, following a consultation with a licensed healthcare provider who will determine if a prescription is appropriate. 

Minoxidil

Minoxidil is a topical hair loss medication. It’s available as a liquid solution or foam and doesn’t require a prescription. 

Unlike finasteride, minoxidil doesn’t affect your DHT levels. Instead, it works by stimulating hair follicles to enter the anagen (growth) phase of the hair growth process. It also increases blood flow to your scalp, which may stimulate hair growth.

Numerous studies have found that minoxidil promotes hair growth. For example, a 2019 review published in the journal Drug Design, Development and Therapy stated that minoxidil improves hair growth in both men and women with pattern hair loss.

Minoxidil needs to be applied twice daily for optimal results. We’ve explained how to use it in our guide to applying minoxidil for hair growth

Using Finasteride and Minoxidil Together

Finasteride and minoxidil are both effective at treating hair loss on their own. However, research suggests that they’re even more effective when used simultaneously.

In one study, researchers noted that 94.1 percent of men with hair loss showed an improvement in hair growth after using both finasteride and minoxidil, compared to 80.5 percent of men who used finasteride on its own and 59 percent of men who only used minoxidil.

A separate study found that a combination treatment of topical minoxidil fortified with finasteride helped to maintain hair growth in 84 percent of hair loss-prone men. 

We offer finasteride and minoxidil together in our Hair Power Pack

Other Options for Treating Hair Loss

As well as finasteride and minoxidil, other medications, hair care products and habits may help to prevent hair loss and stimulate hair growth. 

Other Medications

If your hair loss is caused by something other than male pattern baldness, you may need to use medication to treat the underlying issue and improve your hair growth.

For example, if you have hair loss from tinea capitis, your healthcare provider may prescribe an antifungal medication to clear the infection and improve your skin. 

If your hair loss is caused by a specific medication, your healthcare provider may recommend a different medication that’s less likely to affect your hair. 

Lifestyle Changes

If your hair loss is related to a habit or lifestyle factor, such as a certain hairstyle or a hair styling product you use, making changes to your habits may help to stop any further hair loss. 

A variety of lifestyle factors can affect your hair growth, from the foods you eat to things like your personal hygiene, levels of stress, use of potentially damaging hair products or even habits such as smoking.

We’ve talked about these more in our guide to lifestyle changes you can make for improved hair growth

Hair Loss Shampoo

If you’re prone to hair loss, washing your hair with a shampoo that’s formulated to prevent hair loss and stimulate growth may improve your results, especially if it’s used with finasteride and minoxidil.

Our Thickening Shampoo contains saw palmetto — an herbal ingredient that may reduce hair loss and encourage hair growth. 

Other ingredients to look for in a hair loss shampoo include ketoconazole, pyrithione zinc and salicylic acid. 

Biotin & Other Hair Vitamins

Several vitamins are essential for optimal hair growth, including vitamins A, B12, C, D and B7, which is also known as biotin. Some of these vitamins are also important for maintaining your skin and nails, both of which go through a similar growth process to your hair. 

Although these vitamins don’t prevent male pattern baldness, they play an important role in the process of keeping your hair thick, strong and healthy. 

Our Biotin Gummy Vitamins pack all of these hair-friendly vitamins into a form that’s gluten-free and made with natural flavors and colors.

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In Conclusion

Currently, the most effective treatments for male pattern baldness are the FDA-approved hair loss medications minoxidil and finasteride

These medications work by stimulating hair growth and, in the case of finasteride, by blocking the androgen hormone DHT from damaging your hair follicles and causing shedding. 

For enhanced results, you may want to consider combining these medications with a hair loss prevention shampoo and hair-friendly vitamins such as biotin. 

Worried about your hair? You can learn more about the hair loss process and your options for protecting your hair in our detailed guide to male pattern baldness

14 Sources

Hims & Hers has strict sourcing guidelines to ensure our content is accurate and current. We rely on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations. We strive to use primary sources and refrain from using tertiary references.

  1. Rhodes, T., et al. (1998, December). Prevalence of male pattern hair loss in 18-49 year old men. Dermatologic Surgery. 24 (12), 1330-2. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9865198/
  2. Hereditary-Patterned Baldness. (2019, April). Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/a_to_z/hereditary-patterned-baldness-a-to-z
  3. Kinter, K.J. & Anekar, A.A. (2021, March 13). Biochemistry, Dihydrotestosterone. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557634/
  4. Hughes, E.C. & Saleh, D. (2020, June 9). Telogen Effluvium. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK430848/
  5. Al Aboud, A.M. & Crane, J.S. (2020, August 10). Tinea Capitis. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK536909/
  6. Alopecia areata. (2020, August 18). Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/genetics/condition/alopecia-areata/
  7. Yanagisawa, M., et al. (2019, January). Long-term (10-year) efficacy of finasteride in 523 Japanese men with androgenetic alopecia. Clinical Research and Trials. 5, 1-5. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/337105943_Long-term_10-year_efficacy_of_finasteride_in_523_Japanese_men_with_androgenetic_alopecia
  8. Kaufman, K.D., et al. (1998, October). Finasteride in the treatment of men with androgenetic alopecia. Finasteride Male Pattern Hair Loss Study Group. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. 39 (4 Pt 1), 578-89. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9777765/
  9. Badri, T., Nessel, T.A. & Kumar, D.D. (2020, May 4). Minoxidil. StatPearls. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482378/
  10. Suchonwanit, P., Thammarucha, S. & Leerunyakul, K. (2019). Minoxidil and its use in hair disorders: a review. Drug Design, Development and Therapy. 13, 2777–2786. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6691938/
  11. Hu, R., et al. (2015, June 2). Combined treatment with oral finasteride and topical minoxidil in male androgenetic alopecia: a randomized and comparative study in Chinese patients. Dermatologic Therapy. 28 (5), 303-308. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dth.12246
  12. Chandrashekar, B.S., Nandhini, T., Vasanth, V., Sriram, R. & Navale, S. (2015, January-February). Indian Dermatology Online Journal. 6 (1), 17–20. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4314881/
  13. Pulickal JK, Kaliyadan F. Traction Alopecia. Updated 2020 Aug 12. In: StatPearls Internet. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470434/
  14. Cranwell W, Sinclair R. Male Androgenetic Alopecia. Updated 2016 Feb 29. In: Feingold KR, Anawalt B, Boyce A, et al., editors. Endotext Internet. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278957/

This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment.

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