We know how hard it is to see your hair strands flow away with the water or fall in bunches leaving you with the fear of going completely bald. For many people, a head full of healthy and shiny hair is crucial for a remarkable appearance and a self-confidence booster. And when those hairs start falling out, it can be distressing.
Fortunately, many treatment modalities and products are available in the market that slow or stop hair loss alongside treating the underlying cause. Since hair loss can be temporary and permanent, the choice of treatment method may vary from one person to another.
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Though it is customary to lose around 100 hairs daily because of the normal growth cycle of our hair, if you are losing more than that, talking with the doctor is the first thing you need to do to rule out any underlying medical condition and discuss your suited treatment option.
And when we talk about the best-suited treatment options for hair loss, the name finasteride is what we come across more frequently than ever. And therefore, we decided to look closely at finasteride and came up with many things that will amaze you.
The use of finasteride for hair fall-related issues is not a new thing. But if you have yet to experience its benefits and know about other vital details centering on finasteride, such as its side effects, interactions, and dosing, read this article until the end.
This well-researched article will help you gather adequate knowledge about finasteride. It is possible to prevent further hair loss and even regrow some or all of your hair in areas of your scalp affected by hair loss using finasteride.
What Is Finasteride?
In layman’s words, finasteride is one of the most effective hair loss treatments available on the market. It is a medication that primarily focuses on reducing our body’s production of dihydrotestosterone or DHT. Finasteride can produce natural-looking hairs when used correctly without causing inconvenience or costing you much money.
No, we are not claiming that. But many people who have given finasteride a chance said that they could achieve extraordinary results either by experiencing slowed down hair fall or stopped hair fall. In some cases, finasteride is also used to reverse male pattern baldness. But what is finasteride?
Finasteride is a prescription-only medication that is also FDA approved to treat androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness. Some people might be aware of the term Propecia or Proscar. Propecia is a market name for finasteride sold by Merck & Co.
Initially, the FDA approved finasteride for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia, a non-cancerous prostate enlargement. After many years it was approved for hair loss and sold by Propecia. Today both versions are available in the market and used to treat enlarged prostate glands, and the lower dosage version is used for hair loss. And currently, many brands are selling the same medication under various names.
Finasteride is generally available in tablet form and is safe for daily usage. And typically, for treating hair loss, it is prescribed at a lower dosage of 1MG per day.
Getting Into The Chemical Aspect Of Finasteride
Finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor primarily used to treat the symptoms of benign prostatic hypertrophy and male pattern baldness. The medication is associated with a low level of transient serum minor transferase elevations but is not linked to clinically apparent and acute liver injury.
Finasteride is a synthetic compound that can competitively bind to an inhibit steroid type II 5-alpha reductase in the prostate gland, skin, and liver and interfere with the enzymatic conversion of testosterone into five dihydrotestosterone by reducing the serum DHT level.
It is also a steroid that can treat benign prostatic hyperplasia and has a role as an androgen antagonist.
A Little Bit Of History Of Finasteride
James Hamilton first observed Finasteride in 1942 to prevent the development of male pattern baldness in men. Later, in 1974, Julianne Imperato-McGinley From Cornell Medical College New York attended a conference on congenital disabilities where she reported on a group of intersex children born in the Caribbean and appeared sexually ambiguous by birth and initially raised as girls and then grew external male genitalia alongside other masculine characteristics after puberty. Those children, even after being introduced as girls until puberty, were heterosexual and termed as Guevedoces by their local community, which means Penis at 12 in Spanish.
She found a genetic mutation that is common among those children, which is causing them deficiency of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme and dihydrotestosterone, the male hormone. Upon maturation, those individuals were also observed to have smaller prostates that were primarily underdeveloped alongside a lack of incidence of male pattern baldness.
In 1975 when P. Roy Vagelos was assisting as Merck’s basic research chief, the copies of Imperato-McGinley’s demonstration were seen by him. And he was utterly intrigued by the notion that Dr. Vagelos opted for creating a drug that could mimic the condition found in those children to treat older men with benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Later, Merck developed finasteride under the code name Mk-906. And a team of chemists led by Gary Rasmusson and biologist Jerry brooks developed potential 5-alpha reductase inhibitors that adhere to the transition state inhibitors using an iterative molecular design, testing, and redesign process. In 1992, the US Food and Drug Administration finally approved finasteride to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia, which was marketed under the brand name Proscar by Merck. Merck successfully obtained FDA approval for the second indication of finasteride for treating male pattern hair loss and sold it under the brand name Propecia.
Use Of Finasteride For Hair Loss
Finasteride is generally used to treat male pattern hair loss, also called androgenetic alopecia. Male pattern hair loss usually appears in men 50 or more. And more than half of the world’s population have visible signs of male pattern hair loss like receding hairline, thinning and balding.
Though in many cases, those conditions are not treated, treatment options are available, including finasteride which reduces further hair loss and, in some cases it also regrows a bit of hair. Men who want to see their best result must start using finasteride soon after noticing hair loss. Studies show that finasteride slows down further hair loss in about 90% of men taking it, and in some men, it also could regrow hair which tends to occur in patients who start using finasteride soon after they first notice signs of hair loss.
For finasteride treatment for hair loss, a pill must be taken every day, and the result can be expected in about six months.
How Does Finasteride Work For Hair Loss?
Finasteride comes under a class of medications known as 5 alpha-reductase inhibitors. It inhibits the action of 5 alpha-reductase enzyme that converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone.
Dihydrotestosterone plays a vital role in male pattern baldness. Therefore if you are genetically prone to hair fall, dihydrotestosterone can bind to receptors in your hair follicles and cause them to become small, resulting in slowed hair loss around your hairline, crown, and scalp.
Since finasteride can inhibit the 5 alpha-reductase enzymes and reduce the amount of dihydrotestosterone in your bloodstream, it shields your hair follicle from DHT-related damage. Much research shows that the typical use of finasteride lowers the DHT level by more than 70%. And therefore, your hair loss slows down and sometimes stops altogether. Many men even experienced a significant degree of hair regrowth in their scalp that what affected by male pattern baldness after starting finasteride treatment. Have you ever had a question if finasteride works? For most men, absolutely.
There is much research that establishes the fact that finasteride works wonder. In fact, in long-term and placebo-controlled clinical trials published in many journals, more than 90% of men with hair loss claimed that they saw commendable improvement in their hair growth after using finasteride.
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In a comparative study, 75% of men who used a non-therapeutic placebo worsened their hair loss over the same. According to the journal of the American Academy of Dermatology researchers, finasteride can produce more than 15% of hair at the vertex scalp in men with male pattern baldness.
Another study in Japan involving 10 years of finasteride use found that around 90% of men with androgenetic alopecia could experience improvements after using finasteride. In short, finasteride works wonder, with most men experiencing improvement in their hair growth and density.
The Side Effects Of Finasteride
Though finasteride works wonders for people with male pattern hair loss, the medicine can also cause some unwanted effects. Although not all the side effects mandatorily occur in every person using finasteride, the patient must seek medical attention if they occur.
You must visit a doctor if you notice any of the following side effects occurring:
- Cold sweats
- Lightheadedness while getting up from lying down or sitting position
There are some less common side effects of finasteride, too, including:
- Swelling of face, hands, legs, feet, and arms
- Tenderness or enlargement of breast
- Swelling of face and lips
- Redness on skin
- Quick weight gain
- Tingling sensation on hands or feet
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There are also some side effects of using finasteride that doesn’t necessarily need medical attention since they go away on their own during the treatment as the body needs some time to adjust to the medicine. It is always better to talk to a healthcare professional openly about the possible side effects of using finasteride and how to prevent or reduce them. If any of the following side effects continue or bother you or if you have questions about them, you must see a doctor:
- Decreased libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Loss in sexual ability and performance
- Runny nose
Some of the rarest side effects of using finasteride include:
- Back pain
- Stomach pain
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What Precautions To Take While Using Finasteride
If some of your friends have benefited from using finasteride, that is not enough for you to be convinced to start using the same medication. Remember, every medication works differently for a different individual. Therefore, you need to consult a doctor before beginning to use finasteride.
You can also tell your doctor or the pharmacist if you are allergic to finasteride. You must know about the inactive ingredients of finasteride and analyze if you are allergic to any of them. Some of the content or finasteride caused an allergic reaction and other problems in different individuals; therefore, talking to a pharmacist for more details is necessary.
You also make your doctor aware of your medical history, especially if you have any liver disease, prostate cancer, urinary problems, or other infections. If you are going for surgery, you must tell your surgeon or dentist about finasteride usage.
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Finasteride can also be absorbed through your skin, and therefore, if the film coating of the tablet is broken or the tablet is crushed, you should not handle it if you are a woman who is pregnant or planning to conceive. Also, if a developing male or infant is exposed to finasteride, it can result in an abnormality of the genitals.
Finasteride is strictly not prescribed to women, especially during pregnancy or lactation. Finasteride can harm an unborn or breastfeeding baby. Consulting a doctor about finasteride’s usage and possible side effects is necessary. It would be best to ask as many questions as possible about the medication before using it.
The Interactions Of Finasteride
It is always advised to talk to your healthcare provider and let them know about any medication that you are taking are planning to take while taking finasteride. In some cases, finasteride affected the results of blood tests detecting prostate cancer.
Cytochrome P450 is a group of enzymes that help the liver metabolize medications. And finasteride does not affect the cytochrome P450-linked drug-metabolizing enzyme system.
Though some compounds were tested during human trials, including Propranolol, theophylline, antipyrine, and warfarin, no meaningful interactions were found. However, more studies must be conducted to determine how finasteride interacts with other specific drugs. Finasteride of dosage 1MG is used simultaneously with acetaminophen, alpha-blockers, and beta blockers, but no evidence of adverse interactions was found.
Whatever it is, always talk with the healthcare provider about using finasteride and know if it is safe for you.
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Are There Alternatives To Finasteride To Treat Hair Loss?
Alongside finasteride, many other treatment options are available for hair loss in men. The remedy generally slows down the process and, in some cases, grows hair. The other medications apart from finasteride include:
Minoxidil: Minoxidil is available over the counter in a form or liquid form. An individual needs to apply it on the scalp twice daily to encourage hair growth and prevent existing hair loss. Minoxidil might take four to six weeks to work, and the result depends upon proper application and dosage.
Cosmetic Procedures For Hair Loss
Hair transplant: The two most popular hair transplant procedures include follicular unit extraction and follicular unit transplantation. Both methods are surgical, so they can be a little more expensive than buying finasteride and may cause discomfort.
Some risks and side effects include, such as infections and scarring with hair transplant, and a patient might need multiple hair transplant sessions to get the desired outcome.
In follicular unit extraction, the surgeon removes the hair follicle directly from the scalp and transplants them into the bald part of the scalp. Direct hair implantation is a modified version of follicular unit extraction in which a specialized tool is used to complete the procedure.
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Follicular unit transplantation is a classic method involving the removal of skin, typically from the back of the scalp, and then removing the follicles from that strip and finally inserting the follicles into the part of the scalp experiencing hair loss.
Laser treatment: The laser is used for hair removal; it also can reduce inflammation in follicles that stop hair growth in cases like alopecia areata. In a study that happened in 2014, it was found that low-level laser therapy can increase hair growth through a different mechanism than hair removal. Though there are limited studies to support the effectiveness of laser for hair loss, most reviews state that it is a safe and effective procedure to treat male pattern baldness.
Some Frequently Asked Questions About Finasteride
What does finasteride do?
Finasteride is a type of medicine known as a 5 alpha-reductase inhibitor. The medication primarily aims to treat men with an enlarged prostate. However, finasteride is also used to treat hair loss-related problems such as androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness. Finasteride stops testosterone from turning into dihydrotestosterone which causes the prostate to grow bigger and also prevents hair from growing.
Are there any side effects of finasteride?
Although finasteride is prescribed by doctors and is approved by the FDA, this drug might have a few side effects that are more serious than the disease it treats. In some cases, the side effects of finasteride may even be irreversible and include depression, suicidal tendencies, persistent erectile dysfunction, anxiety, and other neurological issues. However, all the possible side effects can be avoided by being very careful about using the medication. Therefore, consulting with the doctor to know whether an individual is a perfect candidate for using finasteride isn’t necessary.
Is finasteride good for hair growth?
Finasteride is not prescribed to women, especially when pregnant or lactating. For men with hair loss, finasteride can increase the number of hairs on the scalp, but it does not have anything to do with the increment of the amount of body hair. Finasteride works by blocking the action of the 5 alpha-reductase enzymes, which change testosterone into another hormone, causing the prostate to grow or hair loss in males.
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Is finasteride suggested for men?
Finasteride is a practical treatment module for most men to prevent hair loss and male pattern baldness. However, finasteride is not the only option for hair loss treatment, and there are many other medications alongside different cosmetic procedures to deal with male pattern baldness. Minoxidil is another effective medication for male pattern baldness, whereas PRP, laser, and hair transplant are cosmetic procedures available.
Is finasteride suggested for men over 40?
Male pattern baldness is a condition that generally occurs in men of all ages. And therefore, finasteride works for men over 40. However, men under 40 can also see commendable improvement in their hair all over their scalp, including the mid-frontal area, crown, and frontal hairline. Men over 40 generally see results in the crown and mid-frontal scalp.
Does finasteride affect sperm count?
Using finasteride, even in a very low dosage, can reduce the sperm count in some men. The majority of men, after using finasteride, said that their sperm count improved dramatically after they stopped using finasteride.
How long should one take finasteride?
Finasteride is safe for use in the long term. Since it can prevent hair loss when it is active in the body, you must use finasteride daily over the long term if your goal is to avoid baldness and to keep as much hair as possible. For most men, finasteride it’s prescribed for years.
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There are many essential aspects to consider while dealing with hair loss. People who smoke must quit smoking alongside other lifestyle changes such as taking a balanced diet, reducing stress, and using supplements like Biotin, onion juice, green tea, hibiscus, etc., to grow hair and stop hair loss.
Also, it is necessary to note that a person needs to be extra careful and gentle with their hair while brushing and styling it to prevent further hair loss. I hope this article about finasteride helped you know many things about the medication. If you have come across the suggestion of finasteride, it is always suggested to talk to a healthcare provider before using it. Since the drug involves specific side effects, knowing if you are a good candidate for the same is necessary to avoid any severe impact on your health.
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