Hair Loss Treatments for Women: Spironolactone

Hair loss treatments for women are most effective if they are aimed at treating the cause of the hair loss in addition to triggering hair growth. Hair loss, or alopecia, isn’t only confined to men. A significant number of women suffer from various types of baldness such as female pattern baldness, telogen effluvium and traction hair loss. Hair loss can be very distressing and embarrassing for women, and most doctors are of the opinion that there are no cures for this condition.

Understanding Alopecia

Alopecia can be caused by several diseases, but the two most common types of alopecia are alopecia areata and androgenic alopecia. Alopecia areata is caused by the woman’s immune system attacking the hair follicles and causing hair loss, whereas androgenic alopecia is caused by hormonal changes. Androgenic alopecia is very common and is caused by the effect of a family of hormones known as androgens on the hair follicles. Testosterone is an androgen that inactivates the hair follicles present on the scalp, while making those on the face and skin more active. Deficiency of the female hormone estrogen can also cause alopecia as can reduced production of hormones by the thyroid gland and iron deficiency.

Spironolactone

Prescription medicines, such as Spironolactone and Finasteride, block testosterone and are used to treat androgenic alopecia. Spironolactone is marketed as Aldactone, Spriactin, Spirotone, Novo-Spirotin or Berlactone, and is available in strengths of 25mg, 50mg and 100mg. It’s used in the treatment of hypertension and helps the body to retain potassium while excreting water and sodium. A dosage of 50mg per day is typical for the treatment of hypertension. The medication also has anti-androgen effects and decreases the synthesis of testosterone. Hence, it’s also used in the treatment of female hair loss.

Spironolactone pills help women who have developed alopecia before menopause, but these pills have to be administered over several months to show results. A dosage of 200mg of Spironolactone is required daily to treat hair loss and at this dosage, the medication is only effective in stopping hair loss, but not in promoting re-growth.

Side Effects of Spironolactone

Spironolactone is prescribed at elevated dosages for the treatment of hair loss. Since it causes potassium retention, it can lead to extremely high potassium levels in the blood causing a condition called hyperkalemia. Other side effects are diarrhea, cramps, decreased libido, dryness of the mouth, lethargy, drowsiness, mood swings, irregular menstrual cycles and tenderness of the breasts. Spironolactone is contraindicated in pregnant women, and if pregnancy occurs while a patient is on Spironolactone, it can cause a male fetus to obtain female characteristics.

Spironolactone hasn’t been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for dermatological treatment, and although the drug is effective to a slight degree in the prevention of hair loss, it isn’t effective for re-growth of hair. It’s best to weigh the risks and limitations alongside the potential benefits of Spironolactone before using this medication to treat female hair loss.

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