Hair loss manifests itself in different forms. This is something that should be clear in the mind of anyone experiencing a balding condition. The reason is that there are appropriate remedies for each one. Some however, may be used for others though there are also those treatments that are unnecessary for certain conditions. Being able to get properly diagnosed is crucial before embarking on any treatment for hair loss.
Androgenic alopecia is perhaps the most common hair loss condition. It manifests itself as male pattern baldness, affecting about 70% of men during their lifetime. Around 50% of women will in turn, exhibit female pattern baldness before the reach the age of fifty. Androgenic alopecia is a result of genetics that is caused by through a series of processes beginning with the binding of testosterone with the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. This creates a more potent hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT) that binds with the androgen receptors found at the end of hair follicles. The DHT then becomes a barrier to the nutrients that are supplied to it by the bloodstream causing the hair follicles to shrink, eventually leading to hair strands being shed.
Medication is an accepted method to treat this condition. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has two hair loss remedies that have its seal of approval, minoxidil and finasteride. These are highly effective on its own though should only be used after proper consultation with a qualified physician. The same may be said for spironolactone, though this does not carry with it any endorsement by the FDA. This is because it is a potassium-sparing diuretic drug or a “water pill” that is used to treat high blood pressure, abnormal swelling, hormonal disorders or potassium deficiencies. It can be just as efficient however, with a lot of positive feedback from past users. This medication is classified as an “off label” drug for balding.
Spironolactone or “spiro” is sold as Aldactone that acts as an anti-androgen when ingested into the system. This medication is able to help both men and women deal with their hair loss symptoms by effectively preventing the DHT from binding with the androgen receptors of the hair follicles. It allows the nutrients carried through the blood stream to flow unhindered into the hair follicles, supplying it with vitamins and minerals essential for its growth and development. This drug further benefits women by reducing the rate of production of androgens in the adrenal glands and ovaries, examples of which are testosterone and androstenedione. The less testosterone produced would result in a decreased amount of DHT being made because there would be a lower number that the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme can bind with.
Like most drugs, spironolactone also has many side effects. Among the most common are dizziness, an upset stomach, irregular menstrual cycles and nausea. The more serious though rare adverse reactions are signs of infection, dark urine and breast enlargement in men. Discontinuing the use of spironolactone should be done immediately if any of these symptoms arise, though there are more that should be included in this list. Consult with a qualified physician at once before resuming normal activities.
This drug is effective to prevent androgenic alopecia because of its direct impact against DHT. Note that it might not be the most appropriate to use with alopecia areata because hair loss in such instances is brought about by autoimmune causes where the white blood cells mistake the body’s own hair follicles as a foreign body and attack it, causing them to shrink and hair to be shed. There is no DHT-induced baldness in this case and taking spironolactone will only give rise to its potential side effects while leaving the hair loss untreated.
Be aware that many people are turning to topical spironolactone rather than the pill form. This enables many of the benefits to be seen without most of the side effects. The use of oral spironolactone is declining fast due to health concerns, but the topical version is increasing in popularity.