Oral or Topical: Which Prescription Will Work Best for Your Hair Loss?

Oral or Topical: Which Prescription Will Work Best for Your Hair Loss?

Regardless of the reason, if you’re losing your hair, you’ve probably at least considered medication to help it grow back. And, if you’ve done even a little research into what’s available, there’s a good chance you ended up confused. 

At NeoGraft Hair Restoration, Dr. Dana Brownell and her staff recommend transplantation for men and women with our state of the art system, whether you want thicker hair, a lush beard, or more defined and filled-in eyebrows. In many cases, though, Dr. Brownell prescribes medication, either as a complement to hair restoration or while you consider your options.

Topical medication

A topical medication is one that you apply to your skin, using a gel, cream, lotion, oil, or foam. The active ingredient in this type of hair loss medication is minoxidil, and it’s available both over-the-counter and in a prescription strength. 

Researchers don’t know exactly why topical minoxidil works, but it has shown significant results for some people with male pattern hair loss, female pattern hair loss, alopecia areata, and other types of hair loss. Notice the word “some” — the results aren’t the same for everyone.

Some side effects are possible. For example, you may see increased shedding when you first start using topical minoxidil. It could also cause redness and irritation on your scalp or increased growth of facial hair. 

Oral medications

There are three main types of oral medications for hair loss: oral minoxidil, finasteride, and antiandrogens. 


The US Food and Drug Administration originally approved oral minoxidil as a blood pressure medication, but qualified doctors can safely prescribe it for hair loss. Dr. Brownell assesses whether or not minoxidil is working after you’ve been taking it for about six months. 


Finasteride treats male pattern baldness. It works to slow your body’s production of a particular hormone that damages and destroys hair follicles. Finasteride both slows hair loss and stimulates the growth of new hair. 


It may have some side effects. Some men experience erectile dysfunction or depression. 

It can take as long as a year before you notice new hair growth after you begin taking finasteride, though it may begin working at about four months. Dr. Brownell assesses your progress at six months. 


Antiandrogens may be used to treat hair loss in women who have female pattern hair loss. Androgens are the so-called male hormones — testosterone is one of them — though women produce them, too. However, women who have an excess of androgens can experience hair loss because androgens destroy hair follicles. 


Antiandrogens contain estrogen and include a medication called spironolactone, as well as in the form of oral contraceptives. They can have side effects that may include irregular menstrual periods and drowsiness. Antiandrogens aren’t appropriate for women who are trying to become pregnant.

Get personalized help

If you’re considering medication to help slow or stop your hair loss, talk to a highly qualified professional and get advice based on your specific concerns. The underlying cause of your hair loss and your medical history are important factors when it comes to identifying the best medication to fit your needs. 

Schedule an appointment at NeoGraft Hair Restoration, and let Dr. Brownell evaluate your hair loss. Her recommendations are based on years of experience and extensive medical training.

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