It wasn’t that long ago that you had to have a doctor’s prescription for what is now considered the most powerful over the counter hair growth treatment, 5% minoxidil. Now it is freely available in most stores. Not all minoxidil is created equal, as any man who has tried generic brands knows, and can cause scalp itch or simply no results at all. There are a few new arrivals on the OTC front. The French drug Aminexil may prevent hair loss as well.
What Are The Two Main Treatments Used Together To Grow Hair Today?
Minoxidil works by increasing circulation in the tiny capillaries that feed the hair follicle. It was discovered in patients that used it as a blood pressure medication that oral minoxidil was causing hair regrowth in some men. Scientists at Upjohn began to experiment with topical minoxidil and saw amazing results. Upjohn held exclusive rights to the drug until 1996 when it was allowed to be sold as a generic.
5% minoxidil is still the most powerful hair growth drug on the market for topical application, however it only tackles the circulation problem. What topical minoxidil does not do is work on the “root cause” if you will, of hair loss which is DHT. DHT or Dihydrotestosterone is an androgen that is synthesized in the testes, hair follicles and prostate by the enzyme 5-a-reductase, which comes from testosterone. Since men have more testosterone, hair loss is more common in men. It was discovered that the drug finasteride, sold as Proscar, to treat benign prostate hyperplasia or BPH in men, was also growing hair. A five year study showed that two out of three men taking finasteride were re-growing hair.
Below is an image of the finasteride molecule.
Now dermatologists had another weapon to battle DHT caused hair loss, in addition to circulatory hair loss. Many dermatologists now prescribe a regimen of both finasteride and minoxidil.
Does Aminexil Help Prevent Hair Loss?
Another drug that has showed promise is Aminexil SP94 (diaminopyrimidine oxide) which was invented by the French drug maker Vichy. It is used in hair loss prevention shampoos made by L’Oreal as the active ingredient.
Vichy claims that aminexil prevents hair loss by preventing premature hardening of the hair shaft or perifollicular fibrosis, by preventing a buildup of collagen next to the shaft. FDA approval of aminexil as a hair regrowth drug has been slow, however it is allowed in the country as a cosmetic ingredient. Part of the reason for the slow FDA approval of Aminexil may be due to a strong lobby by U.S. drug makers, who would be hurt by competition. Aminexil is sold in the U.S. as part of the minoxidil based topical hair growth treatment Spectral DNC and in some hair loss prevention shampoos. Studies in Europe have shown that Aminexil does work to some degree to reduce hair loss by tackling one of the causes. Of course there are multiple causes to hair loss, so it may be more of an extra tool than sold as a “stand alone” Aminexil topical hair loss treatment.
An aminexil study done by the Laboratoire de Cosmétométrie showed that by using Aminexil hair thickness was increased by 6%. This investigation also showed that patients treated with Aminexil experienced more hair thickness than those treated with the placebo product.
The patient in this photo would most not likely see any results from Aminexil, since hair loss has progressed to an advanced stage. Patients who are just beginning to lose hair may benefit from treatment with Aminexil since it fights hair loss.
Final Thoughts On Fighting Hair Loss
There appears to be a number of promising things on the hair loss prevention front, including laser light therapy, combination drug therapy, and more distant on the horizon, gene therapy and hair cloning. For now dermatologists most often prescribe the two most effective treatments for hair loss in tandem, which are fiasteride pills and 5% minoxidil topical solution. As Aminexil for hair loss becomes approved by the FDA we may begin to see more use of that new drug in over the counter and prescription hair loss treatments. There are side effects to both of these drugs and you should be aware of what they are. In a small number of patients there are sexual side effects from finasteride and minoxidil may cause heart palpitations and other side effects. Consult with your doctor before taking any of these hair loss medications, especially if you have any medical conditions.