Minoxidil is a medication that's commonly marketed under the name Rogaine, and finasteride is marketed under the label Propecia. You might use either Rogaine or Propecia to help treat hair loss. Talk with your physician before you use these medications for hair loss, because they both pose certain health risks, drug interactions and side effects.
Rogaine and Propecia both inhibit hair loss while promoting hair growth, explains the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
Rogaine is an over-the-counter treatment used primarily for treating androgenetic alopecia, also called male- and female-pattern baldness, and alopecia areata, an autoimmune disease. Rogaine appears to make hair shafts thicker and increase the number of hair follicles, notes the University of Michigan Health System.
Propecia requires a prescription. It is used to treat androgenetic alopecia specifically in men. It affects male hormones that cause hair loss by blocking testosterone's conversion into dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
Rogaine is a topical treatment that comes in the form of a foam, lotion or liquid spray. It is available in a 2 or 5 percent concentration solution that you apply to your scalp twice each day.
Propecia is a pill taken by mouth once daily or as directed by your doctor.
Rogaine topical solutions can take up to four months of daily use to show maximum effect, nnotes the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. If you don't see a significant change in hair loss or growth after six months of use, you might want to try a different remedy. Unlike Propecia, Rogaine might generate new hair growth that's much thinner and shorter than your regular hair.
Noticeable results from taking Propecia can occur in as little as three months or up to one year. If you stop using Rogaine or taking Propecia, your hair loss will likely resume, and new hair growth will stop, because these treatments don't usually have any effects beyond active use, the Mayo Clinic points out.
Both Propecia and Rogaine can cause some side effects. Rogaine can cause itching, dandruff and skin irritation, cautions the University of Michigan Health System. Also, women who use Rogaine could grow unwanted facial hair. Propecia can cause erectile dysfunction, low sex drive and other sexual-function problems in men. Propecia might also cause drug interactions, so talk with your doctor about any other medications that you're taking.
Propecia poses serious health risks to women and children. Pregnant or breastfeeding women shouldn't take or even handle Propecia pills, and men taking Propecia should use birth control with their partners to prevent pregnancy while on the medication, warns the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Propecia could cause serious birth defects. Women using Rogaine who also take estrogen-containing medications like oral contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy could experience enhanced hair growth, notes the University of Michigan Health System. If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, you should ask your doctor before using Rogaine.