Feature Archive

Hair Loss In Women: Treatments That Work

What works for men may work just as well for women.

By Colette Bouchez
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

You can style, spray, tease, mousse, and gel to your heart's content. But when your brush begins to hold nearly as much hair as you have on your head, all the styling products in the world won't do you much good.

The problem -- if haven't already figured it out -- is hair loss, and today, women are nearly at the same risk as men.

The good news: New treatment options can make a major difference. While the first step is always to have the cause of your hair loss diagnosed by an expert (a dermatologist is a great place to start), once that cause is determined, there are a variety of medications and treatments that can help -- some developed especially for women.

Among the most popular is the FDA-approved over-the-counter topical preparation minoxidil (Rogaine). Originally developed as a treatment for male pattern balding, it works for women as well, helping to enlarge and lengthen the hair follicle. Though it may do little to grow more hair, it can extend the growth phase and thus can help you to keep the hair you do have, longer.

Over-the-counter minoxidil comes in two strengths -- a 2% solution for women and 5% solution for men. But experts say women may see better results with the stronger preparation. "The 2% solution is way too weak for female pattern hair loss -- you really need to use the 5% solution to get results," says Michael Reed, MD, professor of dermatology at the NYU School of Medicine in New York City.