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Hair loss can affect anyone regardless of age, sex, hair color, and type. Hair loss medication can encourage hair growth and make the hair feel and look thicker, although hair loss will return in many cases if a person stops treatment.

Research estimates that approximately 50% of males and females experience hair loss, the most common type being androgenetic alopecia.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), males may begin to lose hair from their late teens to early 20s. Hair loss may become noticeable by age 50.

In females, hair loss typically begins from the age of 40.

Although treatment for androgenetic alopecia is not necessary, some people may wish to reduce their hair loss by using hair loss medication.

If hair loss is due to a health condition such as alopecia areata, polycystic ovary syndrome, or scalp infection, a person should first seek treatment for this.

This article explores the hair loss medications a person can try, lists some companies selling these medications, and answers some frequently asked questions about hair loss.

A person should consider the following factors when looking for hair loss medication:

  • Safety: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved two drugs for hair loss: topical minoxidil and finasteride. A person should be cautious when buying hair loss treatments that use other ingredients, as their safety or effectiveness may not have had an evaluation.
  • Side effects: Some hair loss treatments can cause side effects. A person should read prescribing information and product labeling to understand what side effects may occur when using the product. Individuals should stop using any hair loss medication that causes side effects and seek medical advice.
  • Pregnancy: Many hair loss medications are not safe during pregnancy or while nursing. A person should speak with a doctor before trying hair loss medication.
  • Price: Some hair loss medications can be expensive. A person should consider the cost-effectiveness of their chosen medication as they will typically need to use it daily. A person should also research customer reviews and whether the manufacturer’s claims include scientific evidence before purchasing.

A person can consider the following medications for hair loss.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Minoxidil

  • Price: from $10
  • Brand name: Rogaine

Minoxidil is a topical product that people apply to their scalp. It is available over the counter (OTC).

Doctors originally prescribed minoxidil for severe high blood pressure but found it caused excessive hair growth in its oral form in 20% of users. Scientists developed a topical version in 1987 specifically for androgenic alopecia in males and then later for female pattern hair loss (FPHL).

Learn more about excessive hair growth in females.

Minoxidil is FDA-approved as a treatment for androgenic alopecia. Scientists do not fully understand how minoxidil works. According to 2021 research, experts believe it shortens the hair’s resting phase — called the telogen phase — and extends the growth phase, called the anagen phase.

A person may notice results within 8 weeks. However, there are a number of side effects a person should be aware of. These can include:

It is also not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding people. A person should not use minoxidil if they do not know the cause of their hair loss.

The AAD states that people should use minoxidil once or twice per day but warns that hair loss will return if a person stops using it.

Minoxodil may be more effective if a person combines it with other hair loss treatments. For instance, a 2017 study found that females who took 0.25 milligrams (mg) of oral minoxidil and 25 mg of spironolactone as daily capsules saw an improvement in FPHL.

Pros and cons

A person should consider the advantages and disadvantages of minoxidil before trying it.

Pros

  • can produce results in 8 weeks
  • available OTC
  • may be more effective when combined with other hair loss medications

Cons

  • not safe during pregnancy or while nursing
  • can cause excessive hair growth
  • can cause a range of side effects
  • hair loss will return if treatment stops

Learn more about minoxidil.

Spironolactone

  • Price: from $2
  • Brand name: Aldactone

This medication is FDA-approved to treat and manage heart failure and high blood pressure. However, doctors can also prescribe it for FPHL if other treatments have not worked.

The British Association of Dermatologists (BAD) states that spironolactone may take up to 6 months to produce results.

Some research has revealed positive results for spironolactone for FPHL. Older 2015 research found that almost 75% of study participants with FPHL experienced improvements in their hair loss or that their hair loss stabilized.

A 2017 pilot study involving 100 females with hair loss concluded that combining spironolactone with minoxidil may be a safe and effective treatment for FPHL. The study participants experienced increased hair growth and reduced shedding. However, this study had several limitations, and more research is needed to confirm its results.

There are several safety concerns a person should consider before using spironolactone.

Additionally, the AAD advises that people should not use spironolactone if they are pregnant, as it can cause birth defects. A person should use birth control to prevent pregnancy if they want to take spironolactone.

The side effects spironolactone may cause include:

The BAD also lists some common side effects that may develop in premenopausal women. These include:

Postural hypotension may also occur, causing dizziness and lightheadedness.

Pros and cons

A person should consider the following advantages and disadvantages before trying spironolactone.

Pros

  • may work well alongside minoxidil
  • some research concluded spironolactone is effective for FPHL

Cons

  • may take 6 months to produce results
  • unsafe during pregnancy and while nursing
  • it is not FDA-approved as a treatment for FPHL
  • will not work for male pattern hair loss (MPHL)
  • may cause side effects

Learn more about spironolactone.

Dutasteride

  • Price: from $5
  • Brand name: Avodart

Dutasteride is an oral medication that doctors prescribe for people with benign prostatic hyperplasia. The FDA has not approved it as a treatment for hair loss, but a doctor may prescribe it for this purpose.

It may take 3–6 months for individuals to start noticing results.

An older 2010 study found that a 6-month dutasteride dosage of 0.5 mg can improve hair growth in people with MPHL.

In another 2017 study, researchers reviewed the effects of dutasteride and finasteride in men with androgenetic alopecia. They found that dutasteride was more effective, but its adverse effects were similar to finasteride. However, this study used a small sample size and had a short duration, so more research is needed to confirm its results in the wider population.

A larger 2019 meta-analysis compared dutasteride with finasteride as a treatment for MPHL. The authors found that dutasteride significantly increased hair counts, had increased efficacy compared to finasteride, and produced similar side effects. They also wrote that participants tolerated both treatments well. However, more research is needed.

Dutasteride can cause side effects, including:

Pros and cons

A person should consider the advantages and disadvantages before trying dutasteride for hair loss.

Pros

  • some research found dutasteride to be effective against MPHL
  • may have increased efficacy compared to finasteride

Cons

  • may cause a range of sexual-related side effects
  • may increase a person’s risk of prostate cancer
  • FDA has not approved it for use in hair loss

Learn more about dutasteride.

Finasteride

  • Price: from $4
  • Brand name: Proscar, Propecia

Finasteride is a drug that can help treat enlarged prostate and hair loss in men. It is FDA-approved for these uses.

It works by binding to the 5-alpha reductase enzyme and stopping it from converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This can slow hair loss, but it will not stop it completely.

According to the AAD, a person should take 1 finasteride pill every day. It may take 4 months to produce results.

Older research showed that in a group of over 2,500 Japanese men, 87% saw an increase in hair growth. 11% of men saw a significant increase in hair, with 36% experiencing a moderate improvement.

According to the researchers, the longer the participants used finasteride, the better their results became.

This is backed up by a 2018 study in Korean men. Although the cohort was much smaller — 126 males in total — over 85% saw an improvement after using finasteride for 5 years.

Another recent 2022 article states that some individuals may prefer using topical finasteride rather than the oral form.

This is because the topical medication may come with a reduced risk of sexual dysfunction. However, the topical form may cause irritation, a burning sensation, or contact dermatitis at the treatment site.

Finasteride is not safe individuals who are pregnant or nursing, females of childbearing age, or children.

Additionally, males using or taking finasteride should wear a condom during sex. This is because finasteride can get into sperm and harm a fetus. Finasteride can also pass through skin, so people who are pregnant or planning to conceive should not touch broken or crushed finasteride products.

Moreover, finasteride may cause side effects including:

Pros and cons

The advantages and disadvantages of finasteride a person may wish to consider include:

Pros

  • FDA-approved for hair loss
  • evidence-based effectiveness

Cons

  • may take 4 months to produce results
  • unsafe during pregnancy and while nursing
  • can cause sexual dysfunction
  • slows, but does not stop, hair loss

Learn more about finasteride.

The table below compares each of the hair loss medications in this article.

MinoxidilSpironolactoneDutasterideFinasteride
Formtopicaloraloraloral
How to use or takeapply to scalp once or twice a dayswallow 1 tablet a day with or without foodswallow 1 capsule a day with or without foodswallow 1 tablet a day with or without food
Time until results8 weeks6 months3–6 months4 months
Common side effects• itchy scalp
• dryness
• scaling
• excessive hair growth
• breast tenderness
• enlarged breasts
• irregular periods
• erectile dysfunction
• decreased libido
• enlarged breasts
• erectile dysfunction
• decreased libido
Pricefrom $10from $2from $5from $4

There are several telehealth companies offering hair loss medications. The list below looks at seven popular companies.

Roman

Roman provides prescription and OTC medications for hair loss, erectile dysfunction, and premature ejaculation.

It offers oral finasteride, topical minoxidil, and a pack of both treatments for hair loss.

A 3-month supply of oral finasteride costs $20 per month, and the same supply of topical minoxidil costs $16 per month.

A person can get a 3-month supply of both treatments for $35 per month.

Before ordering, a person must complete an online assessment for a doctor will review. If the doctor has questions, they will arrange an appointment to discuss the assessment. They can then prescribe a person with hair loss medication if necessary.

Roman states that it offers free delivery and 2-day shipping, sending medication in discreet packaging.

Members can also get free follow-up care from the company’s licensed doctors.

Learn more about the Roman brand.

Lemonaid

Lemonaid offers generic finasteride for people with hair loss.

As with Roman, a person must complete an online assessment. Lemonaid claims that a doctor will review their information within 24 hours.

A person can get a 3-month supply for $30 on their first visit.

Online consultations cost $25, which typically covers the doctor’s evaluation and the prescription.

Lemonaid states it delivers orders for free within 1–5 days.

Hims

Hims is a telehealth company that specializes in male health concerns.

Individuals must answer an online questionnaire indicating whether they have a receding hairline, thinning at the crown, overall hair loss, and more. Consultations with a doctor cost $39.

Hims offers a wide range of hair loss treatments. These include:

  • Topical finasteride and minoxidil spray: Hims claims it contains 0.3% finasteride and 6% minoxidil. It states this product has not been FDA-approved. It costs $32 per month.
  • Minoxidil solution: Hims recommends this 5% minoxidil solution for hair thinning on the crown of the head. It costs $15 per month.
  • Minoxidil foam: A person can use this foam twice a day. A 1-month supply costs $30, and a 3-month supply costs $60.
  • Oral finasteride: Hims suggests this product for people with a receding hairline. It costs $28.50 per month or $85.50 every 3 months.
  • Hair Power Pack: This pack includes finasteride, minoxidil, a thickening shampoo, and biotin gummies to support hair health. Hims recommends this product for people with overall hair thinning. It costs $23.
  • Oral finasteride and topical minoxidil: Hims recommends this option for people with a receding hairline and bald spots.

There are also hair thickening shampoos and conditioners that cost $19 and $22, respectively.

Moreover, Hims claims it provides a 90-day money-back guarantee and free, discreet shipping.

Learn more about the Hims brand.

Hers

Hers is attached to the brand Hims, but this brand focuses on female health.

A person must answer questions online before connecting with a physician. A person can then get a prescription for hair loss treatments if the doctor thinks it is necessary.

Through Hers, a person can buy:

Hers offers free online visits, free shipping, and unlimited messaging with Hers doctors for follow-up questions. However, consultations cost $39.

Learn more about the Hers brand.

Keeps

Keeps focuses on hair loss treatments. A person can complete an online questionnaire to determine the best plan for them. Plans start at $10 per month, depending on the treatment.

Keeps offers:

  • Oral finasteride: This costs $25 per month.
  • Minoxidil solution: The Keeps 5% minoxidil solution costs $10 per month.
  • Oral finasteride and topical minoxidil: A pack of both oral finasteride and a minoxidil solution costs $105 for a 3-month supply. If a person chooses minoxidil foam, it will cost $120 every 3 months.
  • Minoxidil foam: A bottle of 5% minoxidil foam costs $15 per month.

Thickening shampoos and conditions are also available for $22. A thickening pomade is available for $25.

The company claims that it provides:

  • FDA-approved medications
  • lower prices than pharmacies
  • support from its care team

BlinkRx

BlinkRx is an online pharmacy that claims to provide people with the lowest prescription prices for a wide range of medications.

A person must send BlinkRx their prescription and pay online before it ships the medication to their home or local pharmacy.

A person can get advice from licensed pharmacists. BlinkRx states it accepts insurance.

A person can collect their medication from their preferred pharmacy or have it delivered to their home for free.

GoodRx

A person may also wish to consider GoodRx.

A person can use this service to search for the lowest pharmacy prices for a wide range of medications.

People can also access free coupons to save money on prescriptions.

A 30-day supply of spironolactone costs $2.19, and oral finasteride costs $4.63 for 30 tablets.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) states that it is usual for people to lose 50–100 hairs a day. However, it advises that a person consults a doctor if they experience the following:

  • sudden hair loss
  • hair coming out in clumps
  • bald patches
  • itchy or burning scalp
  • hair loss that affects their mental health

These symptoms may be a sign of a health condition.

Below are answers to some of the top questions about hair loss medications.

What would a dermatologist prescribe for hair loss?

The AAD writes that dermatologists can recommend OTC and prescription medication for hair loss, including minoxidil. They may also suggest alternative treatments such as microneedling, laser caps or combs, or more invasive treatments, including corticosteroid injections, hair transplants, and certain blood treatments.

Can a doctor prescribe medication for hair loss?

Some medications, such as finasteride and spironolactone, are only available with a doctor’s prescription.

Individuals who cannot visit or do not feel comfortable consulting a physician in person can consider using a telehealth service to discuss their hair loss and get a prescription.

Do any hair loss treatments actually work?

Research suggests that the majority of FDA-approved hair loss medication — and some medications used off-label for hair loss — produce promising results. However, hair loss will return if a person stops treatment in many cases.

A person should be cautious about trying hair loss treatments that have not been FDA approved. They should always discuss hair loss with a doctor before trying to treat it with medication.

Hair loss medications come as tablets, solutions, and foams. Some are available OTC, while others require a doctor’s prescription.

Research is promising regarding the effectiveness of popular hair loss medications. However, more research is needed overall, particularly on the long-term effects of using hair loss treatments.

There are also various telehealth companies offering hair loss medication a person can consider. A person should always discuss hair loss with a doctor before trying a new treatment.