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Medications for treating androgenetic alopecia hair loss

Dermatologist Dr Martin Wade spoke on Saturday at the FACE 2016 conference about medications for treating androgenetic alopecia hair loss in men and women. Dr Wade explained that Dermatologists use a different approach for diagnosing and treating androgenetic alopecia hair loss in men and women.

Androgenetic alopecia in men is a progressive hair loss condition. The clock is ticking and patients will get a better response if starting one of the clinically-proven treatments of topical minoxidil or oral finasteride when younger. These are licenced products that are tried and tested with long term data of over 10 years. Responses are reasonable predictable with a low side effect profile. Commencing one of these two medications is usually the first step in battling male pattern baldness.

Recognising androgenetic alopecia in women is more difficult as there are some conditions that can mimic this. There has also been confusion regarding terminology and other names such as female patterned hair loss or even male pattern baldness have been used to refer to androgenetic alopecia in women. The latest thinking is that we should use the umbrella term of patterned hair loss in women to encompass three subsets or groups of women. The first is early onset before the age of 40 which is thought to be androgen driven and is the female equivalent of male pattern baldness. The second group is onset in ages 40 – 55 where androgens are felt to play less of a role and other hormonal and non-hormonal factors may be driving this condition. The third group is onset in the older age group (>55) which we now called senescent alopecia and is thought to be androgen independent and part of the ageing process. Medications used for treating androgenetic alopecia in women include topical minoxidil, anti-androgens such as spironolactone or finasteride used off-license, and a low androgenetic oral contraceptive pill.

Clinical photography is key to making assessment of response to treatment objective rather than subjective. We use the Canfield system which is the gold standard for hair photography.

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