If you've experienced male- or female-pattern hair loss, there are a number of treatment options. Although billions of dollars are spent each year by consumers on various baldness 'cures,' the only topical product approved by the F-D-A for hair loss is minoxidil, a nonprescription chemical sold in the U-S both under the brand name 'Rogaine' and as 'Regaine' in other parts of the world. It's also available in generic form. Minoxidil for men and women is the same substance; only the packaging is different. The F-D-A has banned advertising substances as treatments for hair loss that it hasn't approved; however, the agency's acknowledged it can't control products sold on the Internet and other areas over which it has no jurisdiction, so it cautions consumers to be aware. Some doctors have been prescribing a mixture of minoxidil mixed with Retin-A, although the combination hasn't been approved by the F-D-A. Retin-A, which is available only by prescription, was first approved by the F-D-A as a treatment for skin conditions, such as acne, but it's also been found to be a hair growth stimulator in certain dosages. One oral, prescription medication, the drug finasteride, which is marketed as Propecia?, was recently approved by the F-D-A as a hair loss treatment. Until then, it was used to treat prostate disease. Propecia can't be used by women, and it can cause side effects for men. There are many so-called 'natural'treatments-- vitamins and other supplements-- that may promote healthy hair, although it's not likely they can cause new hair growth or completely prevent baldness. There are also invasive surgical procedures, such as transplants, in which remaining hair follicles are grafted to bald areas, and scalp reduction. Contact a health care professional for information about which treatment option is right for you.
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