Does Finasteride Help With Hair Loss?

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The short answer is yes, definitely, but Finasteride only works for the duration of the treatment, so it requires a long-term commitment. Do your research and speak to a doctor before trying Finasteride, and make sure you take it as directed. Finasteride is a very safe option for hair loss, with proven benefits, and is one of the most successful hair-loss medications on the market. Finasteride works best on hair loss at the crown of the head, and is less effective on a receding hairline. 

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a prescription-only medication used to treat hair loss – meaning you have to get it from either your own doctor or via an online doctor. Stay away from dodgy internet sites that offer to send you Finasteride without a prescription or a consultation with a doctor. 

Finasteride is the generic name of the hair loss treatment Propecia, but is a far more cost-effective option. Finasteride is most commonly available as a pill, but can also be used as a topical application. It can also be combined with other hair loss treatments such as Minoxidil or Platelet-Rich Plasma treatments (PRP).

How does Finasteride Work?

Finasteride blocks an enzyme in the body that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT) – the hormone that causes male pattern baldness. A reduction of DHT in the scalp means hair loss is halted, and can sometimes be reversed, depending on the patient. 

One major advantage Finasteride has over other hair loss treatments is that it only works on the hair follicles in the scalp, and doesn’t lead to excess body hair. 

How Successful is Finasteride in Reducing Hair Loss?

According to a clinical trial following men taking Finasteride for two years, 66 percent showed an increase in hair growth, while 83% showed no further hair loss. A great increase in hair growth was shown by 5% of men, while 31% reported a moderate improvement and 30% a slight improvement. This is evidence that Finasteride is successful at halting hair loss, and resulted in increased hair growth for most men in the trial. 

On average it takes between 3-6 months of taking one tablet per day to show an effect on most men. However, once you stop taking Finasteride, the benefits also stop, so in order to benefit from long-term improvements Finasteride must be taken continuously. Men with moderate hair loss on the top of their head see the best effects – it is less effective on a receding hairline, so it’s a good idea to start taking Finasteride as soon as you notice your hair thinning at your crown. 

Does it Work For Women?

Traditionally Finasteride has been prescribed for male hair loss only, and women are usually recommended other products. However, a study in 2006 showed that some women did have positive results taking Finasteride. Women of childbearing age should avoid Finasteride as it can cause birth defects, so it is best avoided until post-menopause. 

Finasteride Side Effects

As with all medications, there are some side-effects, but they have been reported as rare. Some users experience rashes, low sex drive, low mood, erection problems and sore nipples, but these are uncommon. A small number of users have reported symptoms of depression – this is very unlikely, but if you do experience depression while on Finasteride stop taking it immediately and speak to your doctor. You may find it easier to tolerate in another form, such as a topical scalp application. 

How Do I Take Finasteride Tablets?

Remember that you can’t buy Finasteride over the counter – you will need a prescription, so talk to your doctor or other healthcare provider about your options and whether Finasteride is safe or not for you. Beware of online companies selling Finasteride without a prescription, as it is likely to be at best useless and at worst harmful. 

Once you have your tablets, take one per day as prescribed. If you miss a day, just continue the following day – you don’t need to double up. There are no additional benefits from taking two, and it can be harmful to take a double dose in one day. 

Topical Uses of Finasteride 

Finasteride can also be used as a topical preparation directly on the scalp. This has been proven to be almost as effective, yet with fewer side-effects than when taken orally. A study of 323 participants from 2021 concluded that a topical application of Finasteride significantly improved hair count compared to placebo, continuing: “Its effect is similar to that of oral finasteride, but with markedly lower systemic exposure and less impact on serum DHT concentrations.”

Some preparations combine Finasteride and Minoxidil which purport to be effective for both receding hairlines and thinning on the crown of the head. 

Conclusion

Finasteride has been proven to be effective in halting hair loss in the majority of men, and actually reversing it in most cases. It has minimal side effects on men, but should be used with caution by women of childbearing age. Whether taken orally or used topically, Finasteride shows good results for the duration of treatment. However, its effects stop once the patient stops taking Finasteride, so long-term consistent use is recommended. 

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