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Male pattern baldness, or androgenetic alopecia, may result from genetics or a scalp infection or skin disorder. Various treatment options are available to slow hair loss or stimulate hair growth. A person can discuss these treatments with their doctor.

Research shows that up to half of males and females will experience androgenetic alopecia in their lifetime.

This article explores seven of the best hair loss treatment options for men to help prevent and treat hair loss. It also discusses the causes of hair loss, how to cope, and when to contact a doctor.

In some cases, it may be possible to prevent — or at least slow down — hair loss. However, this will depend on the underlying cause of a person’s hair loss.

Some of the best prevention methods are:

  • eating a balanced diet
  • using combs with wider spaces between the bristles
  • avoiding harsh treatments and hairstyles
  • switching medications to avoid the side effect of hair loss, if possible
  • avoiding pulling or twisting hair

Learn more about preventing hair loss.

People may not be able to slow or prevent some types of hair loss. In these cases, males can try active treatment methods.

A person may use any of the following methods to treat 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.

Medications

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are available that may help treat hair loss. These include foams and ointments.

The two most common medications are minoxidil (Rogaine) and finasteride (Propecia).

Minoxidil

Scientists originally developed minoxidil to treat high blood pressure. The developers found that the medication had the side effect of excessive, unwanted hair growth. This effect gave drug companies reason to consider it as a treatment for male baldness.

Researchers do not know exactly how minoxidil works. The drug appears to widen the hair follicles, which causes thicker strands of hair to grow.

In addition, minoxidil appears to prolong the growth period of hair, resulting in longer hair and a higher number of hair strands.

Minoxidil is safe and effective when people use it properly. It is more effective in individuals who are under 40 years of age.

A 2019 review notes that topical minoxidil is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in males and females. However, doctors may recommend off-label minoxidil use for other hair disorders, such as alopecia areata, scarring alopecia, and hair shaft disorders.

The FDA notes that the term “off-label” refers to approved medications that doctors prescribe for unapproved uses.

Minoxidil can cause some side effects, including:

  • hair shedding
  • skin irritation and redness
  • itchy, yellow, or white scales on the scalp
  • allergic contact dermatitis
  • excessive hair growth over the body, including on the face in some females

Minoxidil is not suitable for people who are pregnant or nursing or for those who have a hypersensitivity to the medication’s ingredients.

It comes in 5% and 10% strengths.

Learn more about minoxidil.

Best minoxidil treatment: Rogaine

Rogaine minoxidil treatment
  • Price: around $50.99
  • Pro: widely studied and recommended
  • Con: may take 2–4 months to show results

Rogaine is a 5% minoxidil foam for males over age 20.

According to the makers of Rogaine, the product is suitable for all hair types and is easy to apply.

However, it may take 2–4 months for a person to see results. Additionally, the product may have side effects such as skin irritation, skin scaling, contact dermatitis, and excessive hair growth in other areas of the body.

Individuals can apply the foam to dry or damp hair and massage it into the areas where hair is thinning. Once the product dries, they can style their hair as usual.

A person may want to consider the following pros and cons of Rogaine:

Pros

  • easy to apply
  • recommended for all hair types
  • unscented
  • widely studied
  • FDA-approved

Cons

  • unsuitable for people who are pregnant or nursing
  • may take 2–4 months to show results
  • comes with the likelihood that hair loss will continue if treatment stops
  • may cause side effects

A 3-month supply of Rogaine is available for around $50.99.

Finasteride

Finasteride is an FDA-approved treatment for male pattern baldness.

Scientists originally created finasteride to treat prostate cancer. It works by decreasing the amount of the hormone dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the scalp.

DHT appears to cause hair follicles in the scalp to become thinner, so reducing DHT levels may promote hair regrowth and slow hair loss.

This drug carries several warnings about its use. It is suitable only for adult males and is not suitable for people who are pregnant or nursing.

Unlike minoxidil, finasteride does not affect hair growth on other parts of the body.

Finasteride is available in both topical and oral forms. A 2020 review states that the topical formulation of this drug is less likely to cause severe side effects than the oral version.

Possible side effects of finasteride include:

Individuals who use finasteride to treat male pattern hair loss may not experience noticeable results until they have been using the product for 3 months.

Learn more about finasteride.

Best finasteride treatment: Roman

Roman finasteride
  • Price: starting at $20 a month
  • Pro: includes free online visits with a doctor
  • Con: may not show results for 3 months

Roman is a telehealth company that offers its services to men experiencing hair loss, premature ejaculation, and erectile dysfunction.

It offers oral finasteride starting at $20 per month.

Customers must fill out an online assessment and have an online consultation with one of Roman’s health professionals before ordering.

They can then access unlimited follow-up appointments and free delivery each month.

Learn more about Roman.

A person may wish to consider the following pros and cons of finasteride from Roman:

Pros

  • includes free online visits with a doctor
  • free 2-day deliveries
  • comes in discreet packaging
  • FDA-approved treatment

Cons

  • unsuitable for people who are pregnant or nursing
  • not available in all states
  • may cause side effects
  • may not show results for 3 months

Laser combs

Laser combs are a newer form of hair loss treatment. Advocates claim that these devices promote hair growth by using concentrated light to stimulate hair follicles.

This treatment has mixed results and may work best when combined with other forms of treatment.

In an older 2014 study, researchers reviewed the effects of low level laser therapy in 32 men and women with androgenetic alopecia. They found that using laser combs in combination with minoxidil and finasteride may help stimulate hair growth.

Additionally, a 2019 study found that a novel laser cap improved hair density and diameter, as well as the visual thickness of hair, in 19 participants. However, the authors note several limitations to this study, such as a small sample size.

Best laser comb treatment: HairMax

HairMax Ultima laser hair comb
  • Price: around $239.99–397.50
  • Pro: does not involve taking medication
  • Con: expensive

HairMax produces laser combs for people experiencing hair loss and thinning.

The company makes two combs: the Ultima 9 Classic and the Ultima 12 Classic.

The Ultima 9 has 9 lasers, while the Ultima 12 has 12.

The company states that its laser combs are safe for both males and females.

It recommends using them for 8–11 minutes three times per week, depending on the device a person chooses.

Features of the Ultima 9 and 12 include:

  • cordless and lightweight design
  • no LEDs
  • 9 or 12 medical-grade lasers

Learn more about HairMax here.

HairMax laser combs come with a 6-month money-back guarantee.

A person can consider the following pros and cons before making a purchase:

Pros

  • suitable for males and females
  • does not involve taking medication
  • short treatment time of 11 minutes three days per week
  • FDA-cleared

Cons

  • expensive
  • may cause side effects
  • not FDA-approved

HairMax laser combs cost around $239.99–397.50.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

PRP is a newer treatment that doctors use for androgenetic alopecia.

It involves a doctor taking a blood sample and running it through a centrifuge machine. This machine separates the PRP in the blood so the doctor can extract the platelets and inject them into specific areas of a person’s scalp.

The platelets may promote healing in damaged hair follicles.

According to a 2019 review, PRP therapy can reduce hair loss, but the research supporting this is of low quality.

This treatment is not FDA-approved.

Learn more about how effective PRP is for hair loss.

Therapies

Therapies for hair loss often involve a combination of drugs, ointments, creams, and shampoos, which a dermatologist may prescribe.

Learn more about hair growth products available online.

Other therapies involve meeting with specialists.

Several companies specialize in hair treatments for men. They typically offer services to help work out the best course of action and tailor treatments to an individual’s needs.

Wigs and hairpieces

In some cases, hair loss may be permanent or long-term.

Some people might prefer a nonmedical approach to treating hair loss. Wigs and hairpieces offer a means of disguising hair loss.

Wigs and hairpieces have advanced enormously in recent years.

If a medical condition is causing a person’s baldness, their insurance provider may cover the cost of a wig. It is important to check insurance coverage before purchasing a wig.

Surgery

The only surgery available to address hair loss is hair transplant surgery.

Hair transplantation is for people with male pattern baldness. A hair transplant involves removing hair follicles from the back of the head, where they are resistant to DHT, and placing them on the scalp.

Like any other surgery, hair transplants carry the risk of complications.

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons states that the risks of hair transplant surgery include excessive bleeding and wide scars. Additionally, there is a chance the skin plugs may die, and this requires further surgery to fix.

The table below compares each of the hair loss treatments in this article for their price and main pros and cons.

PriceProsCons
Rogainearound $50.99• easy to apply

• recommended for all hair types

• unscented

• widely studied
• FDA-approved
unsuitable for people who are pregnant or nursing

• may take 2–4 months to show results

• comes with the likelihood that hair loss will continue if treatment stops

• may cause side effects
Roman finasteridestarting at $20 a month• includes free online visits with a doctor

• free 2-day deliveries

• comes in discreet packaging

• FDA-approved treatment
• unsuitable for people who are pregnant or nursing

• not available in all states

• may cause side effects

• may not show results for 3 months
HairMax laser combaround $239.99–397.50• suitable for males and females

• does not involve taking medication

• short treatment time of 11 minutes three days per week

• FDA-cleared
• expensive

• may cause side effects

• not FDA-approved
PRPdependent on providersome research suggests it can reduce hair loss• involves taking blood samples

• lack of reliable research to back up effects

• not FDA-approved
Therapydependent on provider• can include a range of drugs and topical products

• can be tailored to an individual
requires support from a dermatologist
Wigs and hairpiecesdependent on retailer• accessible

• does not involve medication
• does not stop hair loss

• may not be comfortable
Surgerydependent on provider• minimally invasive

• effective at increasing thickness and amount of hair
• carries the risk of complications

• can cause scarring and bleeding

• expensive

Men can experience baldness or hair loss for several reasons.

The most likely cause is genetics. Finding out whether hair loss is due to genetics or another factor can help a doctor determine the best course of treatment.

Male pattern baldness is a hereditary condition and the most common cause of male baldness. It can start as early as puberty or develop much later in life. It often occurs gradually and in predictable patterns, affecting the temples and the front of the middle of the scalp.

Most often, males will be left with a horseshoe pattern of hair. Heredity affects how fast, at what age, and to what extent someone will experience baldness.

People with male pattern baldness inherit hair that is more sensitive to DHT, the hormone that can shorten the life span of individual hair follicles.

Other common causes of hair loss in men include:

  • Scalp infections: Infections such as ringworm can affect the hair and skin of the scalp, leading to scaly patches and hair loss.
  • Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes and imbalances can cause temporary hair loss. For men, the thyroid gland is the most likely cause of hair loss due to hormonal changes.
  • Patchy hair loss: Patchy hair loss, also known as alopecia areata, occurs when the body’s immune system attacks hair follicles. The attack causes sudden and rapid hair loss that leaves smooth, often round bald patches on the skin.
  • Skin disorders: Diseases such as eczema, severe seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, and lupus may result in permanent hair loss in the scarred areas.
  • Hair-pulling disorder: This disorder, called trichotillomania, causes people to have an irresistible urge to pull out their hair. A person will pull hair from the scalp, the eyebrows, or other areas of the body.
  • Medication: Hair loss may be a side effect of certain medications.

Some less common causes of hair loss are:

  • Radiation treatment: If a man receives any sort of radiation treatment near the scalp, the hair may fall out and grow back differently.
  • Some hairstyles or treatments: Wearing hair in ways that pull it excessively or treating it with oils or coloring agents can cause permanent hair loss.
  • Natural triggers: Stress, childbirth, fever, surgery, or extreme trauma may lead to loss of hair. Often, the thinning will reverse when the triggering event is over.

The emotional impact of hair loss will vary greatly from person to person.

Some people may wish to seek counseling services as part of their treatment. Others may choose a hairstyle that embraces hair loss, such as a shaved head.

Hair loss may affect a person’s self-esteem and lead to depression, anxiety, and reduced quality of life.

If a person notices a decline in their quality of life after the onset of hair loss, they should seek support from a medical professional.

Learn more about mental health services.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association states that doctors may recommend taking supplements if a person’s blood test result indicates that they are not consuming enough biotin, iron, or zinc.

Learn more about biotin for hair growth.

Taking supplements when a person does not have a deficiency can be harmful, so it is always best to consult a doctor before starting a supplement.

A person may also find the following options useful:

  • Lemon oil: According to a 2016 study, lemon oil can help stimulate hair growth. A person can apply it directly to their scalp before shampooing their hair.
  • Rosemary oil: Researchers in a 2015 study found that rosemary oil can treat androgenetic alopecia. Participants who received minoxidil treatment also experienced frequent scalp itching.
  • Coconut oil: A recent 2021 study notes that applying coconut oil to the scalp can help improve the hair follicles’ health and repair hair damage.

People should contact a doctor if they experience any of the following:

  • sudden hair loss
  • loss of clumps of hair
  • itching or burning on the scalp

People should also contact a healthcare professional if they are worried about their hair loss.

A healthcare professional may ask questions or perform tests to investigate whether the hair loss is a result of:

  • an illness
  • stress
  • weight loss
  • iron deficiency

Below, we answer some frequently asked questions about hair loss.

Does hair grow back after hair loss?

Whether a person’s hair grows back depends on the type of hair loss a person experiences.

For example, most people who lose their hair as a result of cancer treatment, such as chemotherapy or radiation therapy, will experience hair growth after their treatment ends.

However, other causes of hair loss, such as male pattern baldness, are typically permanent. Doctors may prescribe or recommend certain treatments to help prevent further thinning of the hair.

If a person experiences hair loss as a result of scarring, the hair is less likely to grow back. It is important for a person to seek advice and treatment from a dermatologist as soon as they notice hair loss. Early intervention can help prevent scarring hair loss from spreading.

Do hair loss treatments work?

There is evidence that treatments such as minoxidil and finasteride can reduce the amount of hair a person loses. However, results may vary from person to person.

People may not see results until they have been using a hair loss treatment for several months. A person should work with a healthcare professional to find a treatment that suits their situation.

Does insurance cover hair loss treatment?

A person should check with their insurance provider to see whether their plan covers hair loss treatments. People should always check with their insurer before seeking treatment.

Hair loss has many possible causes, including genetics and disorders of the skin or scalp. While it is not always possible to prevent hair loss, people may be able to slow or stop hair loss by taking a medication such as minoxidil or finasteride or by using OTC products such as laser combs.

People should contact a healthcare professional if they are worried about their hair loss or if the hair loss is sudden. A doctor may order several tests and ask questions to find out the cause of the hair loss.