Management of androgenetic alopecia

A Tosti, F Camacho-Martinez, R Dawber
Journal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology: JEADV 1999, 12 (3): 205-14

BACKGROUND: Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is the most frequent cause of hair loss affecting up to 50% of men and 40% of women by the age of 50.

METHODS: This paper outlines the current status of diagnosis and offers guidelines for optimal management of AGA in both men and women.

RESULTS: The diagnosis of AGA can usually be confirmed by medical history and physical examination alone. A trichogram can be useful to assess the progression of the hair loss. A scalp biospy is diagnostic but usually not required. In women with signs of hyperandrogenism, investigation for ovarian (polycystic ovarian disease) or adrenal (late-onset congenital adrenal hyperplasia) disorders is required. Mild to moderate AGA in men can be treated with oral finasteride or topical minoxidil. Oral finasteride at the dosage of 1 mg/day produced clinical improvement in up to 66% of patients treated for 2 years. The drug is effective for both frontal and vertex hair thinning. Medical treatment with finasteride or minoxidil should be continued indefinitely since interruption of therapy leads to hair loss with return to pretreatment status. Mild to moderate AGA in women can be treated with oral antiandrogens (cyproterone acetate, spironolactone) and/or topical minoxidil with good results in many cases. Hair systems and surgery may be considered for selected cases of severe AGA both in men and in women.

CONCLUSIONS: Patients with AGA should be informed about the pathogenesis of the condition. If used correctly, available medical treatments arrest progression of the disease and reverse miniaturization in most patients with mild to moderate AGA.

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