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 Propecia?
Propecia is a drug used to treat male pattern hair loss, a common condition that involves hair thinning on the scalp that often leads to a receding hair line or balding on the crown of your head. It affects some men from 20 years old and is more common as men age, affecting the majority of males at some stage throughout their life.
Finasteride is the generic name of the drug and is the active ingredient in the medication that works to reduce hair loss
How does Propecia work?
Propecia (finasteride) is successful in preventing male-pattern baldness due to its ability to specifically inhibit 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme that converts testosterone into more potent androgen dihydrotestosterone or DHT.
Propecia’s 1 mg dose of finasteride can effectively lower DHT levels in the scalp by as much as 60% when taken daily. It is DHT that shrinks or miniaturizes the hair follicle, which eventually leads to baldness. The 60% reduction in DHT has proven to stop the progression of hair loss in 86% of men taking the drug during clinical trials. 65% trial participants had what was considered a substantial increase of hair growth.
Lowering the DHT levels is the only proven way of arresting the hair loss process. Finasteride is recommended to be the first line of attack for all men interested in treating their male pattern baldness.
How long does it take for Propecia to work?
Propecia (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 Propecia 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.
It is best to take it exactly as prescribed. You should talk to you doctor before taking larger doses or for a longer period than recommended.
All medicines have the potential to cause side effects on the body, although not everybody experiences them.
Some common side effects for Propecia include:
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Decreased Sex Drive
If you decide to continue using Propecia, 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 an allergic reaction 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.
The active ingredient in Propecia is finasteride.
The inactive ingredients in Propecia are lactose, microcrystalline cellulose E460, pregelatinised maize starch, sodium starch glycollate, docusate sodium, magnesium stearate E572, hypromellose E464, hydroxypropyl cellulose E463, titanium dioxide, talc, yellow iron oxide E172, and red iron oxide E172.