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Hypertension medication finds new purpose in treating hair loss | Health Smart

For years, people have used topical treatments to prevent hair loss, but now doctors are going off-label with a new option.

YORK, Pa. — Hair loss is common in both men and women, and now more people are finding success treating it using an old medication in a new way.

Minoxidil, otherwise known as Rogaine, has been used for some time as a cream, liquid and shampoo to encourage hair growth.  

"It was discovered multiple decades ago when they were using it as a treatment for hypertension, and they realized that the patients they were giving it to were growing hair all over their body, so they decided to channel it into a hair loss treatment," said Dr. Ruth Williams.

The dermatologist with WellSpan Health said that within the past 5 years, an off-label pill form entered the market—and has shown even better results than the topical medications.

"I had a lot of patients grow their hair back on this medication," Dr. Williams said. "The dose that we use is so low and very well tolerated, and it's a cheap medication, so I think if you're not responding to tropical treatment, you should think about it."

The most common side effect has been hair growing on other parts of the body, something that doesn't worry Debi Buta, who moved to Maryland from Dover to be closer to friends.

The 69-year-old said she has tried everything to treat her hair loss and was not a fan of the liquid medication because it left yellow stains on everything.

"I am ready, willing and able, and I don't care if I get a mustache, beard, side burns....I got a razor blade and I got wax," she joked.

Buta is entering her second month of treatment, and while excited and hopeful, Dr. Williams cautions people to have patience.

"As you know, hair doesn't grow quickly, so you have to give it time to work," Dr. Williams said. "It can take up to 6 months to see any results."

The FDA has not approved the pill form of Minoxidil for hair loss, but Dr. Williams believes that it will in the future, thanks to the positive results from multiple national studies.

Find more information on Minoxidl from the Mayo Clinic here.

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