Health Risks of Hair Loss Treatments
Hair loss treatments are meant to stop hair loss if not encourage new growth in both men and women. The first major commercial hair loss treatment was Rogaine, active ingredient, minoxidal, and was followed some years later by Propecia, active ingredient, finasteride.
These are the two main commercial hair loss treatments on the market today, and while many of the side effects of these drugs are rare, they can be quite severe. It is therefore essential to discuss all health issues you may have with your doctor or pharmacist before starting a hair loss regimen.
Keep in mind that a diet rich in B12, essential fatty acids, and iron is also beneficial in terms of preventing hair loss.
Rogaine was originally developed as a treatment for high blood pressure with hair growth as a side effect. Though Rogaine was not effective as a hypertension medicine it was approved by the FDA as a topical treatment for hair loss that is applied to the scalp.
Rogaine is thought to revitalize shrunken hair follicles so they become larger as minoxidal is classified as a "potassium channel opener." This and similar drugs are thought to stimulate hair growth, yet how exactly this occurs is still unknown at this time.
It is also important to discuss any medications you are currently taking or plan to take with your doctor or pharmacist before beginning a Rogaine regimen. Some medications, such as drugs for high blood pressure, drugs that interact with alcohol, and other topical scalp medications may negatively interact with Rogaine. Also, alert your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to minoxidal or other Rogaine ingredients as well as any other allergies you have.
Some of Rogaine’s inactive ingredients may cause allergic reactions or other heath issues as well. Tell your doctor if you are suffering from any diseases of the scalp such as eczema or have any scalp infections or cuts. Heart problems should be made known to your doctor or pharmacist as well as a history of kidney disease, liver disease, and heart disease.
Common side effects of Rogaine include stinging, burning, and redness at the site of application. Call your doctor should any of these side effects worsen.
On rare occasions Rogaine is absorbed through the skin and can cause adverse side effects such as unwanted body and facial hair, irregular or fast heartbeat, chest pain, severe dizziness, swelling of the feet and hands, tiredness, unusual weight gain, and difficultly breathing, particularly when lying down. Other rare yet serious side effects include rash, itching and swelling of the face, tongue, and throat, backache, cold and flu-like symptoms such as runny/stuffy nose and sore throat, itching, muscle strain or spasm, constant itching, cough, dental problems, scalp burning, acne where medication was applied, blood pressure changes, inflammation and/or soreness at the hair root, rapid weight gain, yellow skin and eyes, and rapid heartbeat.
Do not apply a double dose of Rogaine if you miss one. Rather, simply skip the missed application and continue with your normal routine. It may be harmful if ingested so contact your local emergency room or poison control center should you accidentally swallow any. Symptoms of overdose include fainting, dizziness, drowsiness, and skin flushing.
Rogaine should not be used by children under 18 as it has not been tested on children. It should only be used by pregnant women if determined to be truly needed, and whether or not the drug passes into breast milk is still undetermined.
Propecia is an oral medication for hair loss and works by dramatically reducing DHT, a substance in the scalp that shrinks the hair follicle until hair is no longer visible. Propecia is generally taken for three to six months before results are apparent.
It should not be taken by those who have hereditary problems with galactose, a type of sugar that is sweeter than glucose, or by those with allergies to any of Propecia’s ingredients. Men taking prostate treatment drugs such as Proscar tablets or Avodart capsules should not take Propecia.
Alert your doctor or pharmacist to any medications you are taking or are planning to take as they may negatively interact with Propecia. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have liver disease, abnormal liver enzyme tests, bladder muscle disorders, prostate cancer, stricture of your urethra, or if you have problems with urination, before taking Propecia.
Possible side effects from taking Propecia include testicle pain, impotence, reduced ejaculation volume, ejaculation disorders, breast tenderness and swelling, and decreased sex drive, swelling of the lips and face, and other skin reactions such as rashes, hives and itching. There have also been cases of male breast cancer as a result of taking Propecia.
Tell your doctor about any pain, nipple discharge, and lumps you are experiencing.
While whole Propecia tablets are coated to prevent contact with its active ingredient during handling, crushed Propecia tablets can cause the ingredient to be absorbed through the skin. Crushed tablets should therefore not be handled by pregnant women or women of childbearing age as Propecia can cause abnormalities in male fetuses.
Exceeding the minimum dose of Propecia is not recommended. While Rogaine for women is available, Propecia should not be taken by women, or by children.
In addition to Rogaine and Propecia, there are some natural remedies for hair loss treatment in men and women. Eating foods rich in B vitamins, especially B12, is necessary to hair health and growth, and B12 deficiencies in women seeking treatment for hair loss are not uncommon. Iron deficiency is another factor in hair loss in women, and eating foods rich in iron, such as spinach and brewer’s yeast, can potentially reverse hair loss in women.
Adding more essential fatty acids to the diet, such as canola oil, walnuts, flaxseed oil, fish and soy, all of which contain anti-inflammatory properties, is linked to hair health.
Zinc supplements may also be beneficial.
Other natural hair loss treatments that both men and women may find helpful include pure aloe vera gel, which stimulates skin growth and conditions the scalp.
Boiling equal parts of the herbs rosemary and sage and straining the liquid is another hair loss remedy historically used by people of the Mediterranean.
The yucca plant has been used for centuries by Native Americans in the southwestern region of the United States as a shampoo, among other uses.
While there is little evidence that yucca works as a baldness treatment, it is an excellent scalp conditioner and contains anti-inflammatory properties. As with all health treatments, do your research thoroughly before choosing a method of hair loss treatment.
Hair loss and restoration are old, old problems as are attempts to solve them. For centuries, both vanity and cold weather have induced people to attempt restoring hair, whether through chemical means, use of herbs, diet, or with wigs, hats, and hairpieces. Yet, a truly successful and risk-free hair loss treatment has yet to be discovered. However, when it is found, its discoverer will likely become a very celebrated person, indeed!
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