Can drugs accelerate androgenetic alopecia (AGA)?

Medications can potentially accelerate androgenetic alopecia. Common examples are anabolic steroids, the use of testosterone injections and topical androgen gels (commonly used for men with "low testosterone"), androgenic progestins in birth control pills, danazol as well as many other medications.

This individual whose scalp is shown in the picture has been using anabolic steroids for body building and has experienced rapid hair loss mainly due to a conversion of his large terminal hairs (some labelled by green dot) to thinner miniaturized hairs (labelled by yellow dot). Treatment of drug accelerated AGA involves either stopping the androgen or blocking the effects of the androgen on the hair follicle using 5 alpha reductase inhibitors... or both. Less specific treatments like minoxidil may provide some benefit. Many individuals can improve with this plan but full regrowth is unlikely.

Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Whistler office at 604.283.1887

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