What is alopecia?
Alopecia is another name that refers to male pattern hair loss. Normally, one hair grows from each hair follicle for about three years. After this time, it is shed and is closely followed by a new hair growing from the same follicle.
For men with male pattern hair loss, the hair follicles become smaller over time and each hair is thinner and falls out sooner than previously. Eventually, this can lead to hair follicles so small that the hair does not reach the skin surface.
The main cause behind this change in the hair follicles is an androgenic hormone called dihydrotestosterone. It is for this reason that this hormone is the target for drugs to treat alopecia.
When the hair has been gone for extended periods of time, the hair may become permanently lost hence timely treatment is beneficial.
What is Finasteride (Propecia)?
Finasteride, the active ingredient in brand names Proscar and Propecia among others as pills and tablets, is a medication used mainly to treat an enlarged prostate or hair loss in men. It can also be used to treat excessive hair growth in women and as a part of hormone therapy for transgender women. It is taken by mouth.
The reduction of DHT in the scalp is so far the only known and proven way to arrest hair loss. It is now used as the first line of attack for the treatment of male pattern baldness with Finasteride.
How does Finasteride work?
The active component if Finasteride, works to inhibit an enzyme in the body called 5-alpha-reductase. This enzyme usually converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone, the more potent androgen that has a negative effect on hair growth.
As a result of using Finasteride, the levels of the dihydrotestosterone hormone are lower and a positive effect can be seen on the maintenance of hair and hair growth of men who suffer from male pattern hair loss
How long does it take for finasteride to work?
Finasteride typically starts working to slow hair loss on the scalp almost immediately. Because hair growth is slow, it can take from 3-4 months before the effects of finasteride are noticed. When Finasteride begins working, men should notice they are experiencing less hair loss, and that some hairs begin to grow back. After 6-9 months is when most men notice the full effects of taking finasteride.
A man should take finasteride for one year continuously before knowing the long term results and whether Finasteride works for him. The response to finasteride after the first year is also a good indicator of how successful the long-term treatment will be. Not all men experience hair growth using finasteride. In these cases, finasteride typically prevents further hair loss.
What is the difference between Finasteride and Propecia?
Finasteride is the active ingredient in Propecia and is available in a generic, unbranded tablet. Finasteride and Propecia are medically equivalent but Finasteride is available at a much lower cost.
Timely treatment is crucial to avoid losing as much hair as possible and you should therefore talk to you doctor about treatment options as soon as you begin to notice signs.
You should take Finasteride at the same time every day with a full glass of water. It is important that you take it regularly to see the long-term benefits, so it is a good idea to incorporate it into your daily routine. You can take it with or without food, as desired.
All medicines have the potential to cause side effects on the body, although not everybody experiences them.
Some common side effects for Finasteride include:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Decreased Sex Drive
If you decide to continue using Finasteride, these side effects may lessen after some time. If the symptoms are inhibiting and do not resolve, you can consider stopping the medication with your doctor.
Some people can also have allergic to this medication and the following symptoms are indicative of this:
- Skin rash and itching
- Swelling of lips, face, tongue or throat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing.
If you experience these signs it is essential that you stop taking the medication and see your doctor immediately.
Finasteride is the active ingredient within the medication.
The other ingredients are: lactose monohydrate, microcrystalline cellulose, pregelatinized starch, sodium starch glycolate, hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, hydroxypropyl cellulose, titanium dioxide, magnesium stearate, talc, docusate sodium, yellow ferric oxide, and red ferric oxide.
Please Note: Different generic brands of Finasteride could contain different inactive ingredients.