Medicine has progressed tremendously in the last few years in the men’s hair loss treatment. With new medication and surgery, it is possible to achieve natural results in replacing lost hair or in stopping or slowing the progression of hair loss. 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor like Finasteride (Propecia) is one of medical treatment, with which treating hair loss is not a big problem. We shall look at some details of the medicine Finasteride for hair loss in this article.
What Is Finasteride?
Finasteride was developed to treat enlarged prostate gland by the pharmaceutical company Merck with the brand name Proscar. The other brand name for it is Propecia. FDA gave approval to use 1mg of Finasteride to treat androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness in men in the year 1997. Propecia became the first drug in history to effectively treat the male pattern baldness.
How Does Finasteride Work?
To know how Finasteride works, we have to first look at how a hair strand is formed. Beneath the scalp, hair follicles exist where the hair is made. Hair grows from the hair follicle for around 3 years, after which it is shed and a new hair grows from the follicle. Once the balding sets in, the hair follicles grow smaller in size, which results in thinner hair strand. The hair falls off quicker than the speed of growth and ultimately results in very small follicles and thin hair which does not grow above the scalp.
Baldness or the shrinking of the hair follicles is caused due to a potent androgen called as dihydrotestosterone (DHT). An enzyme called as 5-alpha-reductase converts testosterone into DHT. 1mg of Finasteride effectively lowers the DHT levels in the scalp by 60% when taken on a daily basis. Clinical trials have shown that this reduction had stopped the progression of hair loss in 86% of the men in the trial. 65% of the men in the trial even reported substantial increase in hair growth.
Can You Use Finasteride for Hair Loss?
Like other medicines, Finasteride may not be suitable for people with certain conditions, and in some cases, additional care needs to be taken. The following points should be considered before taking the medicine:
- If you are allergic to Finesteride or any ingredient in the tablet or any other medication, you should inform the doctor.
- The doctor should be informed of all the prescription and non-prescription medication you are taking, which includes vitamins, supplements and herbal products. Accordingly, the doctor might change the dosage of the medicine or monitor for any side effects.
- The doctor should be informed if you have or have had liver disease or prostate cancer.
- Finasteride is meant only for men. Women who are pregnant or plan to get pregnant should not touch broken or crushed finasteride tablets as it can harm the fetus. In case of such contact, wash the exposed area with soap and water immediately and inform the doctor.
How to Use Finasteride for Hair Loss
- Ensure that you read the information leaflet given with the medicine pack. It provides information about the drug and also the list of possible side effects.
- The medicine should be taken in the prescribed manner only. Taking one table of 1 mg per day is the recommended dose and taking it at the same time each day helps in remembering to take it.
- The tablet can be taken before or after meals.
- If you happen to miss a dose, take it when you remember. 2 doses should not be taken to compensate for missed dose. If you do not remember to take the medicine till the next day, skip the dose.
- Store the medicine in a cool and dry place, away from direct exposure to heat and light. It should be kept out of reach and sight of children.
- The medicine will take time in showing effects. So be patient.
What Are the Side Effect of Finasteride for Hair Loss?
Given below are some of the side effects that need taking the medication immediately:
Commonly seen side effects:
- Chills, cold sweats
- Dizziness, lightheadedness when getting up and faintness
Less commonly seen side effects:
- Bloating or swelling in the lips, face, arms, hands, lower legs or feet
- Breast enlargement and tenderness
- Hives or welts
- Skin problems like itchy or red skin or skin rash
- Rapid or unusual weight gain or loss
- Tingling in hands and feet
The following side effects may also be seen, the incidence of which is not known
- Clear or bloody discharge from the nipple
- Lump under the arm
- Redness or swelling of the breast
- Dimpling of the breast skin
- Persistent crusting or scaling of the nipple
- Skin sore on the breast which does not heal
- Inverted nipple
The side effects given below are those which may not require medical attention. They might disappear as the body gets accustomed to the medicine. The doctor can suggest ways in which you can prevent or reduce these side effects.
- Loss of interest in sexual intercourse
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss of sexual desire, drive, performance or ability
Less commonly seen:
- Stuffy nose, sneezing
- Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
- Abdominal or stomach pain, diarrhea
- Back pain
- Dizziness and headache
- Decreased amount of semen
- Testicular pain
People might experience some side effects which are not listed here. In such cases, they should consult the doctor.
Here is the video that one man talks about his experience taking finasteride for hair loss: