Types of hair loss and treatment options, including the novel low-level light therapy and its proposed mechanism

South Med J. 2010 Sep;103(9):917-21. doi: 10.1097/SMJ.0b013e3181ebcf71.


Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is the most common form of hair loss in men, and female pattern hair loss (FPHL) is the most common form of hair loss in women. Traditional methods of treating hair loss have included minoxidil, finasteride, and surgical transplantation. Currently there is a myriad of new and experimental treatments. In addition, low-level light therapy (LLLT) has recently been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of hair loss. There are several theories and minimal clinical evidence of the safety and efficacy of LLLT, although most experts agree that it is safe. More in vitro studies are necessary to elucidate the mechanism and effectiveness at the cellular level, and more controlled studies are necessary to assess the role of this new treatment in the general population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alopecia / classification
  • Alopecia / epidemiology
  • Alopecia / therapy*
  • Androgens / metabolism
  • Dermatologic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • Female
  • Finasteride / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Minoxidil / therapeutic use
  • Off-Label Use
  • Phototherapy / methods
  • Tretinoin / therapeutic use


  • Androgens
  • Dermatologic Agents
  • Drugs, Investigational
  • Tretinoin
  • Finasteride
  • Minoxidil