According to the American Hair Loss Association, hair loss in females can be caused by a number of factors, including hormonal fluctuations that accompany pregnancy, menopause and medical conditions such as cysts on the ovary. Some drugs can also cause hair loss. Women may experience temporary hair loss after a major trauma such as childbirth, malnutrition, major surgery or excessive stress. Experts emphasize the importance of early treatment that’s aimed at the underlying cause of the hair loss.
Minoxidil, sold under the brand name Rogaine, is a topical solution approved for the treatment of hair loss in both men and women. It can be effective for a woman who has diffuse hair loss all over her scalp, as well as for a woman who has marked hair loss on the front of her head. The American Hair Loss Association lists spironolactone and cimetidine as two medications known as androgen receptor inhibitors that block the actions of hormones that cause hair loss in women. Products containing the female hormones estrogen and progesterone reduce the effect of menopause on hair loss, according to the American Hair Loss Association.
Minoxidil is applied to the dry scalp twice a day and left in place for at least four hours. Cimetidine and spironolactone are oral medicines that are taken as prescribed by a doctor. Estrogen and progesterone come in both creams and oral contraceptive pills for treatment of female hair loss, says the American Hair Loss Association.
Minoxidil can cause dryness and itching of the scalp. Spironolactone is a diuretic that causes increased urination and sometimes an allergic reaction. Cimetidine, a histamine blocker that helps prevent heartburn symptoms, can cause an allergic reaction, dizziness or depression. According to the American Hair Loss Association, oral estrogen and progesterone increase a woman’s risk for blood clots and other medical complications such as stroke and heart attack.
According to the American Hair Loss Association, minoxidil promoted moderate hair regrowth in 19 percent of women who used it for eight months, and minimal hair regrowth in 40 percent of those women. Recognizing the limitations of minoxidil therapy, the Association identified both oral and topical forms of estrogen and progesterone as the most common form of treatment for typical female hair loss.
The American Hair Loss Association notes that a drug known as finasteride, or Propecia, has been used as a treatment for hair loss in women. However, Merck, the drug’s manufacturer, clearly states the medication is not approved for use in women.