Hair loss is a common problem that can affect men and women. In fact, 2 out of 3 men will experience some form of male pattern baldness when they are 35 years old.
Androgenetic alopecia, or male pattern baldness (MPB), is caused by DHT, a hormone that affects our hair follicles. In men's tendency for hair loss, excess of DHT cause the hair follicles at the hairline and crown to shrink. This process starts early and can be found in 20% of men in their 20s and 30% in their 30s.
Two common treatments are clinically proven to help hair loss, finasteride and minoxidil. With regular use, both of these products can help slow down male pattern hair loss (also known as androgenetic alopecia) and help promote hair regrowth. Although both of these products work to achieve the same goal, they work in very different ways. Let’s break down the differences between finasteride and minoxidil.
What is male pattern balding?
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss in men. One cause of this condition is genetics; if there is a family history of baldness, especially on the mother’s side, you are more susceptible to it.
Research has found that male pattern baldness is connected to male sex hormones called androgens. These androgens can affect many things within the body, including regulating hair growth and loss.
Male pattern baldness can begin as early as the teenage years, but it’s more commonly found in adult men. Some men find their hair loss begins at the temple or crown of the head, while other notice it in a single spot or a receding hairline in the form of an “M” shape.
What is the difference between minoxidil and finasteride?
Minoxidil and finasteride are two of the most researched and well-known hair loss treatments available. Both are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and are backed with scientific research, though there are some major differences between the two.
What is Minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a vasodilator that is an over-the-counter topical medication available in liquid or foam form. When applied to the affected areas of the scalp, it helps to widen the blood vessels, encouraging the flow of blood to the hair follicles. The increased blood flow delivers more essential nutrients and oxygen to the area, promoting hair growth.
What is Finasteride?
Finasteride is an oral drug - originally developed to treat prostate enlargement and cancer. Finasteride is typically used for male hair loss. However, it is not approved for use in women due to the possibility of congenital disorders. Other side effects may include dizziness, headache, gastrointestinal discomfort, excessive facial and/ or body hair growth, and sexual dysfunction.
How does minoxidil work?
Minoxidil works by widening the blood vessels in the head and increasing blood flow to the area. It stimulates hair growth by lengthening the hair cycle's anagen phase (growth phase) to encourage healthier, thicker growth.
Technically, topical minoxidil does not stop hair loss. Instead, it promotes growth by triggering hairs in the resting phase - also known as the telogen phase - to shed so they can be replaced with new hairs that may start to take on a healthier, thicker appearance.
Are there side effects of minoxidil?
Since minoxidil disrupts your hair's growth cycle, users may find that they shed more during the first few months of growth. This is a normal side effect that will pass with time. Other common side effects include dryness, itching, flaking, and slight irritation of the scalp.
How does finasteride work?
Finasteride is categorized into a class of medications called 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors. It works by blocking the effects of 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT within the body. As mentioned, DHT is the primary hormone that is responsible for causing male pattern baldness.
You can think of finasteride as a shield that protects the follicles from being exposed to DHT in the first place, while minoxidil works as a growth agent. Finasteride is praised for its ability to prevent male pattern baldness from worsening while protecting the existing hair.
Are there side effects of finasteride?
Finasteride may cause many different side effects like loss of interest in sex, erectile dysfunction, and mood. Other possible side effects are trouble having an orgasm, abnormal ejaculation, swelling in your hands or feet, swelling, tenderness or lumps in the breasts, dizziness, weakness, headache, runny nose, and skin rashes. The sexual side effects of finasteride may continue after you stop taking this medicine. Consult with your local physician if you have concerns about these side effects.
In rare cases, finasteride can cause serious side effects that require immediate medical attention. Those are severe allergic reactions that can cause trouble breathing, swelling of your throat or tongue, or hives.
A recent study of 3282 users of finasteride used VigiBase, the World Health Organization’s global database of individual case safety reports, and found a disproportional signal of suicidality, depression, and anxiety associated with finasteride use for alopecia in patients younger than 45 years. No such signal was associated with drugs with different mechanisms of action but similar indications or with drugs with similar mechanisms and adverse effect profiles.
Finasteride should not be used by people with liver disease or prostate cancer. Finasteride is metabolized in the liver. In people with liver disease, your body processes the drug more slowly, increasing the levels of the drug in the body and cause more side effects. Finasteride can also increase the risk of faster-growing or more aggressive forms of prostate cancer. If you have or have had prostate cancer, you should not take finasteride.
Should I use finasteride or minoxidil to treat male hair loss?
As with every other medical treatment, using a topical treatment like e minoxidil should be the first step/Moxinidixl is safer m and does not require taking oral tablets. Male that do not see a significant reduction in their hair loss after six months of using Minoxidil should consider finasteride.
Can I use finasteride and minoxidil together?
Yes, studies have shown that finasteride and minoxidil are safe to take together. One study published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy looked at the effects of taking the two treatments together and found that 94.1 percent of men showed significant improvements compared to the 59 percent and 80.5 percent of men treated with minoxidil or finasteride alone, respectively.
Since they work in different areas of the body, there’s no risk in taking them simultaneously. Before starting treatment, you should always check for potential drug interactions and talk with your healthcare provider or dermatologist before beginning these medications.
Can women use Finasteride (Proepeciea)?
Absolutely not. Finasteride can be absorbed through the skin and cause birth defects in male babies. Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not use finasteride or handle the crushed or broken tablets. If a woman does come in contact with this medicine, the affected area should be washed right away with soap and water.
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