Male pattern baldness is a common type of hair loss that may develop in many men at some stage in their life. Hair loss manifests differently among men, such as receding hairline, bald spots, or hair quantity thinning all over your head. As men, your hair is part of your identity, and losing hair is never a good thing regardless of age. Data shows that one in every six young men between the ages of 18 to 29 is afflicted with moderate to extensive hair loss. Likewise, half of the more mature men between the ages of 40 to 49 and upwards are affected by hair loss. Hair loss treatment ultimately becomes a necessity.
Though there are many over-the-counter hair loss products currently on the market, not a lot of them offer any long-term and lasting results. Other forms of solutions such as surgery, steroid injections, and hairpieces are often expensive. And these solutions may not give you the results you desire. Do you have other options that might be being overlooked?
If you have been scouring for solutions as you lose your hair, you might have likely heard or read about finasteride. Finasteride is an FDA-approved prescription drug for hair loss treatment. And here is the gem, it works for most men. And we will discuss this further on.
This type of oral medication works by blocking hormones that cause male pattern baldness to develop. If you want to stop losing your hair and regain your luscious locks, here’s what you need to know. It can stop hair loss if used daily and might even help in regrowing lost hair.
What Hair Loss Treatment is Suited for Your Hair Loss Type?
It is normal to lose a bit of hair, between 50 and 100 strands daily. This volume of loss is insignificant and not noticeable. The moment you notice you are beginning to lose more than the ‘normal’ amount, and the loss is becoming physically apparent, then it becomes a problem.
Many forms of hair loss are caused by different things, and they can affect both men and women in various ways.
Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia, is the most common form of hair loss among men and is a typically inherited condition. The progression of this condition causes the hair follicles to shrink, which causes hair to become shorter and finer. Eventually, hair growth stops altogether.
The exact cause of this hair loss is unknown but is related to the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). We’ve mentioned early on that finasteride blocks hormones that cause male pattern baldness to develop. DHT is such a hormone that can be blocked by finasteride.
Alopecia areata on the other hand is a different story. It is an autoimmune condition that scientists are clueless as to what triggers the immune system to attack hair follicles. For some patients, certain oral or topical treatments work in reducing hair loss. However, this autoimmune condition can never be fully cured.
How Does Finasteride Work in Hair Loss Treatment?
If you are still new in your hair loss treatment journey, finasteride is a well-known prescription medication for hair loss treatment for men. The FDA-approved medication belongs to a class of drugs known as 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors.
Finasteride works by preventing testosterone from breaking down into DHT. This hormone is thought to cause male pattern baldness. The drug first appeared on the market in the early 1990s as a treatment for benign prostatic hyperplasia. It was approved as a treatment for male pattern baldness back in 1998.
Mentioned earlier, hair loss is commonly caused by genetics and exposure to certain hormones. The main hormone in the discussion is dihydrotestosterone (DHT), an androgen, and a byproduct of testosterone. Though this male hormone is important and essential early in life, DHT becomes a problem hormone later on. And, as we’ve already mentioned, can cause the cessation of the production of new hairs.
By inhibiting 5-alpha-reductase enzymes, the conversion of testosterone into DHT is also ceased. Finasteride then causes DHT levels in the body to decrease, preventing DHT-related hair damage and/or hair loss.
Interestingly, DHT is also responsible for “hair growth” in other areas of the body. It’s odd that the same hormone that is responsible for male pattern baldness is also responsible for fueling hair growth on your chest, back, and other areas.
To make jest of the situation, DHT causes a problem of geography and not quantity where hair is concerned. Since DHT is the primary hormone responsible for hair loss in men, an effective method to slow down or even prevent hair loss is to block DHT.
Research shows that finasteride is found to be highly effective at reducing prostatic DHT levels by upwards of 90% and serum DHT levels by upwards of 70%.
Finasteride blocks the conversion of testosterone to DHT by binding to the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme, preventing your body from producing any DHT in the first place. DHT reduction shields your hair from hormonal damage, preventing or slowing down hair loss.
What Finasteride Dosage is Best for Me?
The standard dosage of finasteride for hair loss treatment is pegged at 1 mg per day. If you acquire it from a drugstore or online as the generic finasteride or by the brand Propecia®, this is the dosage it typically comes in.
Available in tablet form, finasteride is designed for long-term use. You’ll only see significant results upon taking the drug if you have been using it continuously for a few months. Men who have been using finasteride to treat hair loss reported an increase in hair quantity, as well as improvement in hair quality.
In Japan, a large-scale study covered a 10-year period of men with male pattern baldness and looked at the effects of finasteride among more than 530 participants. Their progress of daily dosage of 1 mg finasteride was recorded via scalp photographs and questionnaires.
In the course of a decade, 99.1% of the male participants experienced prevention of male pattern baldness progression. Which clearly demonstrates that hair loss is prevented after taking finasteride.
The study also showed that 91.5% of the men experienced only slight, moderate, or significant improvement in hair growth over the course of the 10-year study period.
This study significantly proves that in men with a genetic disposition for male pattern baldness, finasteride can prevent hair loss and even help in growing back those that were already lost. Several other shorter time period studies have also been done, showing the same positive results in men taking a 1 mg per day dosage of finasteride.
Simply put, 1 mg per day standard dosage of finasteride, is highly effective in curbing hair loss and male pattern baldness. Finasteride at normal dosage is highly beneficial and will give good and reliable results.
Bear in mind that finasteride only works if you keep taking it. Stopping your dosage will eventually cause you to lose new hair growth, and what you already have will eventually fall out.
What if I take Finasteride at Lower Dosage?
While the recommended dose of 1 mg of finasteride per day is safe and effective for most people, it has also been found that taking a lower dosage of finasteride is okay.
Be mindful that finasteride can cause side effects, though they are uncommon. Treatment of male pattern baldness with finasteride at less than 1 mg per day shows that it can still work, research has shown.
Though hair loss was not specifically measured, it has been found that DHT levels in the skin of the scalp decreased by the following levels:
- 13 percent with a non-therapeutic placebo
- 14.9 percent with 0.01 mg of finasteride per day
- 61.6 percent with 0.05 mg of finasteride per day
- 56.6 percent with 0.2 mg of finasteride per day
- 64.1 percent with 1 mg of finasteride per day
As can be observed from the data above, even relatively low doses of finasteride, caused a significant reduction in DHT levels.
More studies were done on the effects of finasteride at lower doses than the recommended 1 mg. The research concluded that even 0.2 mg per day were still effective at treating hair loss. This shows however that finasteride still works at lower doses, although its effects are noticeably weaker.
Getting Optimal Results from Finasteride.
Used as prescribed, finasteride works wonders by slowing down, stopping, and even potentially reversing hair loss caused by male pattern baldness. Below are tips and techniques you may follow to get the best possible results from taking finasteride.
- Finasteride works well with minoxidil. Finasteride in itself is already effective at treating hair loss, but it is even more effective if it is used in conjunction with minoxidil. Minoxidil is an over-the-counter hair growth stimulant.
Research has shown that using both finasteride and minoxidil together outperformed either treatment used on its own.
- DHT-blocking shampoos. We already know that DHT is the main cause of hair loss. Therefore, the usage of DHT-blocking shampoo may help lower the amount of DHT already on your scalp. This in turn protects your hair follicles and can potentially reduce hair loss.
Look for DHT-blocking ingredients in your shampoo, such as saw palmetto and ketoconazole, both of which disrupt the DHT pathways found on your skin.
- Give up smoking. Though there are no direct links between smoking to male pattern baldness, evidence shows that smoking tobacco can damage DNA of hair follicles. This may contribute to certain types of hair loss.
- Patience is a virtue. Although taking finasteride is a proven treatment for male pattern baldness, a week of taking pills won’t show immediate results. You have to be taking finasteride daily. Results will begin to manifest themselves after taking the drug for three to four months.
The reason for this is that it takes time for your hair to respond to the medication. Patience is a key factor, and don’t stop taking finasteride if you don’t see results right away. Over time, effects, and improvement will become more noticeable in your hair’s thickness, density, and coverage.
- A picture is worth more than a thousand hair follicles. Finasteride works gradually. It won’t be a surprise if you ignore or even lose track of the improvements on your scalp since you started treatment.
Keeping accurate track of your progress can be recorded by taking pictures of your scalp every month. Just make sure that lighting conditions are all similar in the photos, so you can easily identify which areas of your head have grown hair back, gotten thicker, or improved in appearance.
Losing your hair is quite disconcerting. Fortunately, there are solutions and hair loss is something you just have to live with. If you are experiencing hair loss due to male pattern baldness, you don’t have to look at schemes that only aim to lighten your purse and strip you of cash for treatments or therapies that don’t work.
Stick to one that is both FDA-approved and proven to be effective, finasteride.