In Spain, drugs such as Finasteride are becoming more common, but oral Minoxidil may soon be added as a remedy while hair transplant clinics are multiplying. Thus it is that contemporary beauty standards are mixed with an atavistic fear: that of baldness, incipient or otherwise.

This is the real male obsession of the last decade, writes the Paìs, which historicizes and recounts, “Cleopatra found hair loss mortifying and tried to remedy it by applying all kinds of ointments, from those made from deer marrow, dates and donkey hoof to a then-revolutionary lotion made from rodent fat, urine and horse teeth. He ended up recommending to his alopecic Roman lover, Julius Caesar, that he always cover the zero point of his baldness with a laurel wreath.” Caesar, in fact, suffered like few others from the stigma associated with baldness, which “the Romans considered unsightly and associated with diminished manhood,” so much so that Ovid, the father of rhetoric and erotic poetry, wrote, “Ugly are fields without grass, bushes without leaves, and skulls without hair.” So be it.

But is it possible to combat baldness? According to dermatologist Ramòn Grimalt, most remedies have “very little scientific basis,” starting with the modern arsenal of zinc, silicon, collagen, biotin, onion, caffeine or propolis shampoos: “None of these products crosses the skin layer of the scalp so as to act in depth.” “Alopecia,” the newspaper points out, “like any other condition, requires first and foremost a good diagnosis.

However, many people continue to consider baldness primarily an aesthetic problem with potential psychological consequences, and one that sometimes carries with it a certain social stigma. “This is why modern miracle solutions for hair growth are sought, which, since the dawn of time, were sold in recipes with little credibility.”

According to the New York Times, however, a remarkably effective solution could be offered by a product such as Minoxidil, a vasodilator drug that has been used, with fair results, since the 1980s. “What is giving the product unexpected validity would be to forgo its topical use and take it orally, in very low doses,” according to Emory University dermatologist Robert Swerlick, one of the experts consulted by the New York newspaper, for whom instead “it is possible to reverse hair loss, in cases of moderate to mild alopecia, for pennies and in a simple, quick and safe way.”

However, this use of the drug has not yet been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (Fda) or the Spanish Agency for Medicines and Health Products (Aemps). But in any case, the Times cites half a dozen top dermatologists who prescribe it daily. If its use spreads, in the opinion of these dermatologists it could replace Finasteride, the most popular oral treatment for baldness.

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