Finasteride for Hair Loss

The use of finasteride for hair loss is one of the best known medical treatments indicated for patients with male pattern baldness. It is a prescription oral drug available in brand-name and generic versions, approved in the late 90s by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).

Unlike many other over-the-counter products and medicines, the use of finasteride is backed by several scientific studies demonstrating its long-term effectiveness for the treatment of androgenic alopecia in men.

What is finasteride?

Finasteride is a non-hormonal steroid derivative antiandrogen drug, in other words, is a pharmacologic agent that suppresses or inhibits the biological effects caused by male sex hormones in body tissues.

Although it was developed as a treatment for some prostate conditions, cosmetic benefits were found during research, resulting in the addition of this medication to the list of treatments for male pattern hair loss.


How does finasteride work?

Finasteride is responsible for deactivating the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase type 2, responsible for converting testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT). In men predisposed to androgenetic alopecia, increased levels of DHT may develop sensitivity in the hair follicles, causing hair to lose vitality, strength and color, and reducing its period in the growth phase until it stops growing at all.

The recommended dose of finasteride for androgenetic alopecia is 1 mg a day, a dose 5 times lower compared to the one prescribed for prostate problems. The long-term effect of this drug is noticeable after 6 to 12 months of use, although some patients have shown a positive response after 3 months. However, it should be noted that there are some side effects that become more evident with prolonged use. Once the medication is suspended, its effectiveness, as well as the side effects, will disappear within approximately 6 months and, consequently, alopecia may continue to progress.

Things to consider about finasteride for hair loss

▮ The first step before starting any type of treatment is to see a specialist for a proper diagnosis, as there are different causes that can trigger hair loss and each one may require a special approach.

▮ Despite being a very safe drug, some studies reported that finasteride has side effects such as ejaculatory dysfunction and a loss of sexual desire. Other side effects are testicular pain, swelling in hands and feet, and dizziness, but these are usually reversible when patients stop the treatment.

▮ Its use is indicated mainly for men with androgenetic alopecia between 18 and 40 years.

▮ Finasteride is contraindicated in children under 18, as well as in women of childbearing age. In case of pregnancy, finasteride may cause abnormalities of the external genitalia of a male baby.

▮ Effectiveness of finasteride is more evident on the crown and top of the head than in the frontal region.

▮ Some specialists have observed better results when combined with the use of topical Minoxidil.

Finasteride is a safe drug that has demonstrated a high rate of effectiveness for the treatment of male pattern baldness, however, we will always recommend first consulting a specialist to get an adequate diagnosis as well as the best treatment according to the patient's needs.

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