Hair loss and baldness is an accepted part of the aging process for some. For others, it is a great source of distress. Many men and women suffer from hair loss, yet despite decades of research, there is no total and complete cure.
Both male and female pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is the most common type of hair loss. Across the United States, hair loss impacts around 50 million men and around 30 million of women.
Men and Women Hair Loss
In men, hair loss becomes pronounced or observable when hair begins to recede over time. It begins above both temples, forming an “M” shape. It may also start by thinning on the crown area and may progress to partial or total baldness from there through the progress of time.
In women, it is entirely different and there is no receding hair and rarely results in going totally bald. In women, what generally happens is the general thinning of the hair. This means that the volume of hair declines all over the head.
Though, male pattern baldness is mostly hereditary and can be linked to male sex hormones. Because of this factor, male hair loss can start as early as during adolescence. Male pattern baldness and/or hair loss affect two-thirds of men by age 35, and it can affect around 85% of all men by the age of 50.
The causes of pattern baldness among women is still unclear. However, it is observed that women with hair loss happens most frequently in women after menopause. This indicates that the condition may be associated with decreasing female hormones.
What Is Dutasteride?
Dutasteride is mainly used to treat prostatic enlargement and is available in capsule form. While the drug has not been approved by the FDA to be used as treatment for hair loss, it is sometimes prescribed by physicians off-label for male pattern baldness.
Dutasteride works similar to Finasteride, but it may be more effective. Similar to Finasteride, Dutasteride inhibits the activity of type II 5-alpha reductase. The difference is, Dutasteride additionally inhibits the type I of the enzyme. This blocking of both types of the enzyme can effectively lower DHT even more and reduces the risk of damage to hair follicles.
Is Dutasteride Effective For Hair Loss Treatment Than Finasteride?
The FDA has approved the use of Dutasteride for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), a condition where the prostate becomes enlarged but not cancerous. Although Dutasteride is also found by research to be an effective drug for treating hair loss, it still has to get FDA approval as a hair loss treatment.
This does not mean that Dutasteride is not effective at preventing male pattern baldness. But since it has yet to get approval from the FDA as a treatment for preventing hair loss, it can only be prescribed as an “off-label” treatment for hair loss in the United States.
In one study conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology back in 2014, researchers pitted the effectivity of Finasteride against Dutasteride on 917 men between the ages of 20 and 50 who were at different levels of male pattern baldness.
The end result of that study reveals that both Finasteride and Dutasteride were successful at increasing hair growth over a 24-week period. Another finding is that the side effects were also similar among both groups.
One area of interest worth mentioning is that although both are found to be effective at treating hair loss and prompting hair growth, it has been found that the subjects who used Dutasteride ended up having thicker hair and more of it than the men who used Finasteride.
A more interesting review that was published in the journal Clinical Intervention in Aging, which incorporated data gathered from three other studies pitting the two drugs against each other as treatment against male pattern baldness. The results of the studies all came to a similar conclusion. Both are found effective, but Dutasteride has been found to be slightly more effective.
Due to the fact that it blocks more testosterone from being converted into DHT, Dutasteride has been found to be more effective than Finasteride. Reportedly, Finasteride blocks approximately 70 percent of DHT, whereas Dutasteride can block up to 90 percent of DHT, or probably even more. Additionally, Dutasteride has also been found to be more consistent at blocking DHT than Finasteride.
Dutasteride: The Choice for Hair Loss Treatment
By reducing DHT levels, Dutasteride has shown to slow down, stop, or even reverse the effects of male pattern baldness. Though Finasteride is FDA approved and came in ahead of Dutasteride, still, that doesn’t discount the fact that its effects, and continuing studies being done as a potential male pattern baldness treatment option that will eventually become available.
Data shows that Dutasteride can enhance the growth of new and old hair, whereas Finasteride is less effective in growing new hair.
Dutasteride Side Effects
Every good thing does come with a few setbacks. For drugs and medications, they come in the form of side effects. Dutasteride is no different in this area, same as Finasteride. Both have similar side effects when used to treat hair loss.
For Dutasteride, it has been fond to reduce sexual potency among those who use it. The list below are some unfortunate side effects that one using may experience after a few doses of Dutasteride:
- Diminished interest in sex or decreased libido
- Swelling particularly face, throat, and tongue
- The presence of blood in urine and/or semen
- Increased frequency in urinating
- Anxiety and depression
- Abnormal ejaculation or premature ejaculation
- Pain during ejaculation
- Peeling of the skin
- Burning sensation or pain while urinating
- Stiffness on the hips, the upper thighs, and in the lower back
Men on Dutasteride who experiences any of the above symptoms should immediately seek the assistance of a doctor.
Dutasteride is an effective drug and FDA approved for treating BPH. It is also effective in treating hair loss problems, though it has yet to get approval for this drug to be used for hair loss treatment.
It is important to put in mind that Dutasteride is a much more potent drug for treating hair loss than Finasteride. This however makes it more prone to higher incidence of side effects. Finasteride now has a topical version that is used in conjunction with OTC drug Minoxidil.
For now, the size of Dutasteride molecules, which is far larger than Finasteride, makes it more challenging for it to be delivered as a topical agent. The only advantage is that having larger molecules makes it difficult to pass to the subcutaneous layer of the skin, which would prevent systemic absorption.
This makes it, in theory, makes retention on the skin longer. It is unfortunate however that there are no current studies that are published regarding the effectiveness of Dutasteride as a topical agent.
Dutasteride can be purchased, as long as it is accompanied by a doctor’s prescription.
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