Medically Approved

Is it time to try a hair loss medication?

4 minute read
Person checking for hair loss in front of the mirror

If you’re a guy whose hairline is receding or thinning, it might be. Take this quiz to find out if an OTC or a prescription treatment is right for you.

Amy Levato

By Amy Levato

It’s normal to pull a few strands from your hairbrush each day. But sometimes hair loss is more than minor shedding. Are you stressed out about your receding hairline or thinning spots? It may be smart to ask your primary care doctor or dermatologist about hair loss medication. Take this quiz to figure out your next step.

1. Is your hairline noticeably receding?

  1. Yes, I see a lot of scalp these days.
  2. Yes, but it seems to be growing back slowly.
  3. No, I’ve got a full head of hair.

A receding hairline is a common symptom of male-pattern baldness. It typically starts at the temples or creates an “M” shape at the hairline, with thinning on top. There’s no cure. But the earlier you get treatment, the better. Why? It’s easier to keep the hair you have than to regrow after it recedes or thins.

If you answered A or B, you might be a candidate for minoxidil (known by the brand names Rogaine® and Theroxidil®) or finasteride (Propecia®, Proscar®). Both medications work by stimulating hair growth.

Minoxidil is a topical treatment sold over the counter (OTC) at drugstores. It’s the most common treatment for male-pattern hair loss. You apply it to your scalp twice a day.

Finasteride is a prescription oral medication that can slow hair loss in up to 90% of men. If you take it when strands first start falling out, it may help new hair growth. Results can take about 3 to 6 months.

Treat hair loss on your terms. Get care from the comfort of home and medication delivered to your door. Learn more.

2. Do you have thinning spots on the back of your scalp?

  1. No.
  2. Yes, but my hairline looks normal.
  3. I do. And my hairline is receding, too.

If you answered B, ask your doctor about minoxidil. Sometimes thinning spots can be mild. You may actually be experiencing a condition called telogen effluvium (TE). This can be caused by a stressful event such as illness, surgery or extreme weight loss.

With TE, your hair growth cycle gets out of whack. That means too many follicles at once are sent to the “resting” phase. As a result, all that hair falls out at the same time. It can take 6 months or more for the cycle to become normal again. TE usually resolves on its own. But it can be treated with minoxidil.

If you picked C as your answer, you could be in the early stages of male-pattern baldness. Don’t stress. Minoxidil and finasteride are both options for helping with hair regrowth.

3. Have you noticed that your hair doesn’t seem as thick these days?

  1. Definitely — it’s a lot thinner.
  2. Not really. The hair on my head feels the same as always.

If you answered A, you may want to consider your hair loss treatment options. Thinning hair all over your head may be an early sign of male-pattern baldness. Some hair shedding is normal. In fact, you naturally lose about 50 to 100 individual hairs each day. But if you notice a sudden difference in hair thickness, check in with your doctor.

4. Do you have male relatives on either side of your family who went bald?

  1. My grandfather on my mother’s side.
  2. My father.
  3. My brother and 2 of my uncles.
  4. No, none of my male relatives went bald.

Did you choose A, B or C? All of these answers mean it may be time to talk to your doctor about hair loss treatments. Male-pattern baldness (or androgenetic alopecia) can be genetic — meaning it runs in the family.

If a male relative lost hair, there’s a chance you will, too — no matter who it was or what side of the family. This type of hair loss is usually treated with medications such as Rogaine®.

5. Have you already lost a significant amount of hair?

  1. My head is fully bald.
  2. I have a few strands left.
  3. Yes — and I’ve tried medications with no success.

If you answered A, B or C, it may be too late to use hair loss medication. The good news is that you have other solutions. One is a natural-looking hair transplant. This is a long-lasting treatment. And it’s recommended for drastic hair loss.

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) is another treatment option. Your doctor will draw blood and separate the platelets from the plasma in a special machine. Then the plasma is injected into your scalp. This helps cells regrow. After a few months, the hair begins to regrow as well.

When you’re stressed about hair loss, the best thing to do is talk to your doctor. He or she will find the cause and give you the best treatment option.

Young man running his hand through his hair for a story about hair loss
Struggling with hair loss?

Get discreet care from the comfort of home. No appointments are required and medication can be delivered straight to your door. Plus, we're open 24/7.