Finasteride may be a prescription medication that’s FDA-approved for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness.
You may have heard of finasteride as Propecia or Proscar. Propecia may be a brand name that’s used to market finasteride sold by the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co.
Originally, finasteride was approved by the FDA as medication for benign prostatic hyperplasia, or BPH — a sort of non-cancerous prostate enlargement — under the brand name Proscar.
Several years later, it had been approved for hair loss and sold as Propecia. Today, both versions of finasteride — the higher-dose version wont to treat an enlarged prostate gland and the lower-dose version that’s used for hair loss — are available as generics under a variety of brand names.
Finasteride comes in tablet form and is meant for daily use, consistent with an article published in the book, Stat Pearls. As a treatment for hair loss, it’s typically prescribed at a dosage of 1mg per day.
How Does Finasteride for Hair Loss Treatment Work?
Finasteride tablets belong to a category of medications called 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors, or 5-ARIs. It works by inhibiting the action of the 5 alpha-reductase enzymes, which is involved in converting testosterone into the hormone di hydro testosterone (DHT).
DHT plays a central role in male pattern baldness. If you’re genetically susceptible to hair loss, DHT can bind to receptors in your hair follicles and cause them to miniaturize, leading to a gradual loss of hair around your hairline, crown, or across your scalp.
Our guide to DHT and male hair loss discusses the consequences of DHT on your hair follicles in more detail.
By inhibiting the 5 alpha-reductase enzymes, finasteride significantly reduces the quantity of DHT in your bloodstream, shielding your hair follicles from DHT-related damage.
More Side Effects:
- cold sweats
- dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when getting up suddenly from a lying or sitting position
- Bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
- breast enlargement and tenderness
- hives or welts, itching, skin rash
- rapid weight gain
- redness of the skin
- swelling of the lips and face
- tingling of the hands or feet
- unusual weight gain or loss
Finasteride isn’t a medicine that will directly trigger growth. It helps your hair grow back by addressing the basis of the problem – the DHT. This suggests it can help to prevent chronic hair loss. It’s going to protect your hair follicles. And by promoting overall hair health, it are often a factor in regrowth.
Because it can effectively reduce DHT levels in your body, finasteride could also be able to stop your hairline from receding further. While there’s no guarantee that taking it will regrow your hair, some men may experience regrowth round the hairline after taking finasteride.
Vitamins that claim to regrow hair often contain supplements like biotin, zinc, and B-complex vitamin complex. There’s actually little or no scientific evidence that most vitamins and supplements can help with hair loss—except for vitamin D.
Vitamin D, referred to as “the sunshine vitamin,” is of course produced by the body when the skin is exposed to the sun. You furthermore may get it through foods like milk and eggs.
In one analysis, researchers noted that supplementing your diet with low levels of vitamin D can improve symptoms of androgenetic alopecia and telogen effluvium (TE), which is temporary hair loss caused by stress or trauma. Increasing your level of vitamin D isn’t a magic bullet to fix hair loss, but there are other benefits to creating sure you’re getting enough: vitamin D is believed to be protective against inflammation.
What is finasteride, and does it work?
Finasteride (brand name Propecia; see Important Safety Information) is a medication that blocks a potent form of testosterone called DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT can attack hair follicles, causing them to shrink and produce smaller, thinner hairs. By blocking DHT, finasteride can slow, stop, or even reverse hair loss.
In clinical trials, finasteride stopped hair loss in 83% of people with male pattern baldness who took it for two years (Shapiro, 2003). But you can see results from finasteride within as little as three to four months.
Finasteride results in a timeline don’t despair if you don’t see overnight results. While finasteride is an effective treatment for male pattern hair loss, it’s important to know that you may initially experience more hair loss after you start taking it. That’s normal, though, and the new hairs typically start to grow within a few months. Overall, you can expect to see new hair growth around the third or fourth month of treatment, with more noticeable results by month 6, and the full effect within a year.
To get an even bigger bang for your buck, there are some things you can do while taking finasteride tablets to increase its effectiveness (more on that below).
Male androgenetic alopecia (AGA), the most common type of baldness, is an androgen-dependent inherited hair loss, which has a significant impact on a patient’s psychological condition.1,2 Hair loss starts mostly from the hairline on both sides of the forehead and gradually expands upward, eventually leading the hair to fall off at the top of the head.
The main function of finasteride is to reduce the thinning and falling out of hair.
However, in many cases, it has been observed that it also encourages the growth of hair.
Prevention is often one of the best approaches to managing a health condition. In some cases, it may be possible to prevent — or at least slow down — hair loss. Though this will depend on the underlying cause.