What’s Better for Hair Loss: Propecia or Rogaine?

Hereditary hair loss accounts for almost 95% of people who are losing their hair. It happens when hair follicles shrink, shortening the hair’s natural growth cycle. Two FDA-approved treatments – Propecia and Rogaine – are available for arresting hereditary hair loss and, in some cases, growing new hair.

Knowing whether to treat your hair loss with Propecia or Rogaine (or neither or both) can be a tough call. The following primer is intended to provide some information about the differences between Propecia and Rogaine so you can make a better decision about your hair loss treatment.


Propecia and Rogaine for Hair Loss – The Basics

Propecia is a prescription-only hair loss pill taken orally once a day.

Rogaine comes in a foam or a liquid solution that is rubbed into the scalp every morning and night. It’s available without a prescription.

The active ingredient in Propecia is finasteride, an agent that discourages the production of DHT, a hormone that contributes to hair loss. Propecia is recommended as a hair loss treatment for men only.

Rogaine contains minoxidil, which works by revitalizing shrunken hair follicles. Unlike Propecia, which is for men only, there are different Rogaine formulations for men and women.

How Do Propecia and Rogaine Compare?

Propecia, which got the FDA’s nod in 1997, is the newer remedy for hair loss and is relatively easy to use. All you have to do is take one Propecia pill daily while Rogaine must be incorporated into your daily grooming routine, both in the morning and at bedtime.

Many men who take Propecia begin to notice results in about three months, and by the end of six months they can tell if it really is putting the brakes on their hair loss.

Rogaine’s initial effects can take approximately four months to show up in men and nearly a year to show up in women.

Both Propecia and Rogaine work best on younger people who have not yet had too much hair loss.

Can I Use Both Of Them?

One school of thought suggests that using Rogaine and Propecia together brings faster and longer lasting results than using just one. While there have been no clinical trials on using a combination of both hair loss remedies, some dermatologists believe this can produce faster and better results.

While the effects vary from person to person, some users who respond to either Propecia or Rogaine could benefit from using both at the same time. It may be that some cumulative effect is achieved because of the different ways in which Propecia and Rogaine work – one targets the hormone responsible for hair loss, and the other targets the hair follicles.

It is important to remember that neither Propecia nor Rogaine is a cure for hair loss, and not all people who take them benefit. For those who do have success with Propecia or Rogaine treatment, the products are effective only as long as you continue taking them. If you discontinue taking Propecia or Rogaine, the hair loss resumes and any hair you have saved or gained will disappear in a few months.


What About Side Effects?

In a very small number of men (around 2%) tested in trials, Propecia produced some kind of sexual dysfunction. This problem was generally temporary, and normal sexual function returned when the medication was discontinued.

Men who take Propecia should also be aware that it can impact the results of a common test used to screen for prostate cancer. This is because finasteride, the active ingredient in Propecia, can affect the antigen levels that this particular test measures, so the results may not be accurate.

Rogaine foam users have reported itchy scalps and skin irritation as side effects. Most of them find using a good anti-dandruff shampoo or soap takes care of these. Minoxidil (the active ingredient in Rogaine) used to be prescribed to regulate blood pressure and, in rare instances, some users have found that it accelerates their heartbeat and causes chest pain, breathlessness and headaches.

Treating Hair Loss – Consider All the Factors

Some men and women with hair loss are troubled that they don’t look as attractive as they once did. For them, a hair loss treatment such as Propecia or Rogaine (or possibly both) may help. But before deciding on any hair loss treatment, one should be prepared to commit to it for months or years. In addition, it’s important to carefully consider a range of treatment-related factors including expense, the likelihood of success, possible side effects, and the potential impact on your daily routine and lifestyle.

Hereditary hair loss progresses gradually, so for those who opt to treat it, it’s better to start sooner rather than later for the best results.

For more information on hereditary hair loss and treatment options, consult your dermatologist, or visit the online knowledge base at eDrugstore.com.

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