Finasteride is found in its generic form, or under the brand names Proscar and Propecia. Proscar is indicated to treat an enlarged prostate, or benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), and its strength is 5mg per tablet. Propecia is one of only two medications FDA approved for the treatment of androgenic alopecia, or male pattern hair loss, and comes in a 1mg tablet.
This differs from Dutasteride, as this 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitor has currently only been approved in the US for the treatment of an enlarged prostate (BPH) under the brand name Avodart, which comes in a 0.5mg tablet strength. However, Dutasteride is approved for hair loss treatment in other countries and is commonly prescribed off-label in the US for the treatment of hair loss in men.
Which 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors are used for hair loss?
Both Finasteride and Dutasteride are commonly used for hair loss treatment.
Although, Finasteride is the only medication out of the two which has been FDA approved for the indication of hair loss, even though Dutasteride is often used off-label for hair loss treatment. However, it is important to note that Dutasteride has still been through the rigorous FDA approval process in the US, when it was approved for use in those with benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH).
How do 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors work for hair loss?
5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors work by reducing the amount of Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body, and thus, the scalp.
DHT in the scalp can damage the hair follicles, causing them to shrink. This shrinking of the follicles leads to shorter and thinner hairs being produced over time, which can progress to the loss of hair from that follicle entirely.
It is thought that DHT follicle damage plays a big part in the progression of hair loss in those with androgenic alopecia.
When 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors are used, they block the 5-Alpha Reductase enzyme which is responsible for converting some of the Testosterone in the body into this hair-ravaging DHT.
Finasteride is known to reduce DHT in the serum by around 70%, while the stronger Dutasteride may reduce serum DHT by more than 90%.
With less DHT around in the body, hair follicles shrink less and have less damage from the DHT, leading to fewer hair losses over time. Also, some people receiving 5-Alpha Reductase Treatment have significant increases in hair regrowth.
Who can use 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors?
5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors are only approved for men, and women should not use or handle this medication.
There is a risk of genital deformities in the male fetus of pregnant women who are exposed to 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors, so they should not be handled by women who are pregnant, of child-bearing age, breastfeeding, or trying to become pregnant.
Where can you find 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors?
5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors are prescription medications, so you need a prescription from a doctor in order to use Finasteride or Dutasteride.
Both medications are readily available with a valid prescription from most pharmacies in their tablets forms.
There are also some compounding pharmacies that can make up a topical hair loss formula containing 5-Alpha Reductase Inhibitors like Finasteride and Dutasteride.
Start by speaking with your doctor during an in-person or free online consultation to see if a 5-Alpha Reductase inhibitor may be a good option for your hair loss.