Spironolactone is a popular drug with a range of applications, principally as a diuretic and for the treatment of acne. But can it help prevent baldness as some people believe?
There are different kinds of hair loss. The most common is androgenic alopecia or male pattern baldness. Other forms are alopecia areata and female pattern baldness. There are more cases of hair loss though those mentioned occur more frequently in people with these conditions.
Thankfully, treatment for these different hair loss concerns is available for the patient. It may range from topical solutions and progress to ingesting certain medications. More advanced cases may have to go for surgical procedures to try to reverse the process, although less invasive options like our own scalp micropigmentation treatments are becoming a more popular option now. The availability of these methods is designed to correspond to the type of hair loss of the patient. There are some cases where treatment for male pattern baldness would not be the same for alopecia areata for example.
An example of this may be the drug Spironolactone. It is more commonly sold under the brand name, Aldactone. This drug is a diuretic that blocks the body’s rate of salt absorption and keeps one’s potassium levels at an even level. Spironolactone is mainly used to treat excess aldosterone in the body. The hormone aldosterone balances the body’s salt and water retention. Too much aldosterone in the body results in water retention. It also causes potassium levels to drop. This condition is termed as hypokalemia or the state of having low potassium levels in the blood. The presence of hypokalemia may cause weakness as potassium helps muscles work efficiently. This may also result in low blood pressure and a weak heart. Spironolactone helps the body maintain normal potassium levels as well as to purge excess water from it. Women have also been known to use it for female pattern baldness.
Spironolactone inhibits androgens from binding with cellular receptors. Androgens are hormones such as testosterone and androstenedione. These might be more known as male hormones however they are also present at lower levels in the female body. The purpose for their existence is to convert androgens into estrogen, the female hormone. Excess levels of androgens produce unwanted facial hair around the upper lip and chin in women. It also results in thinning hair or female pattern baldness. This is what happens when androgens and cellular receptors bind to form dihydrotestosterone or DHT. The presence of DHT is responsible for the shrinkage of hair follicles in the scalp that leads to hair loss. Spironolactone prevents the binding of androgens and cellular receptors that in effect, reduces the amount of DHT in the body.
Aldactone is sold in different doses: 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg. The smallest dose is usually recommended when beginning this treatment. It has similar effects as coffee and functions as a diuretic. Any excess water and sodium is expelled from the body. The potassium level of the body is maintained at the same time. It should be noted that Aldactone should only be used after consulting with one’s physician. It is not to be administered independent of a doctor’s knowledge and guidance. The reason for this is that the drug can increase the levels of potassium in the blood to alarming quantities. It can cause abnormal heart rhythm and weakness. This is the condition of hyperkalemia or too much potassium. It is the inverse of hypokalemia, or low potassium levels.
The effects of Aldactone can be felt after ingesting a minimum of 200 mg daily. It is only then that hair loss has been observed to decrease its pace. Tests have also proven that the drug will not materially help hair from returning to its former growth on the scalp. There is also the prospect of unwanted enlarging of the chest in men because of Aldactone’s tendency to hinder DHT. DHT is produced in adult males for the development of male reproductive organs and characteristics. Its lack would also result in decreased sexual response. For this reason, Aldactone is recommended for use in treating female hair loss only.