Minoxidil | Rogaine®
In the late 1970s, the drug company Upjohn introduced minoxidil – a prescription tablet used to treat severe blood pressure. Inadvertently, it was discovered that minoxidil reduced and, in some cases, grew hair. In 1988, Minoxidil in a lotion form became the first pharmaceutical ever to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for hair growth. Marketed under the trade name "Rogaine", a prescription was initially required. Rogaine helps to reverse hair follicle shrinkage, which characterizes inherited pattern hair loss. In 1995, 2% minoxidil lotion was approved for sale in the United States without a prescription. Currently, it is available for men and women as an over-thecounter lotion in 2% and 5% concentrations. If applied in the early stages of hair loss directly to a peach-fuzz covered balding spot in the crown area, Rogaine can reduce the rate of hair loss and sometimes regrow hair.
The success of regrowth of hair has been limited. It has not proven to be effective in the frontal portion of the scalp or hairline. Rogaine must be applied twice daily. In some cases it causes scalp irritation. If discontinued, any hair that was retained or regrown will be lost.
Finasteride | Propecia®
Finasteride, marketed under the trade name "Proscar" by its manufacturer Merck & Co., was first developed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. It was later discovered that a side effect of Proscar was that it actually grew hair. This discovery lead to the clinical studies and trials that would bring finasteride to market as the first FDA approved pill for hair loss. It is marketed under the trade name "Propecia". Clinical tests revealed that Propecia stopped hair loss in over 80% of test cases and actually re-grew hair in over 64% of the test cases – unprecedented success rates.
A scientific and medical fact is that male and female pattern hair loss is due to the effects of Dihydrotestostrone (DHT) on genetically predisposed hair follicles. DHT causes increased hair shedding, gradual miniaturization of hair, and eventual hair loss. Propecia works by inhibiting 5-alphareductase, the enzyme that produces DHT. By reducing the production of DHT, Propecia prevents and eventually, to some extent, reverses hair loss.
Propecia is only a treatment, not a cure. If discontinued, any hair that was retained or re-grown will be lost.