What Is Finasteride and How Does It Work?

Finasteride is a prescription drug used to treat male hair loss. Propecia and Proscar are the two major brands of finasteride; however, Proscar is used to treat an enlarged prostate. Finasteride comes in tablet form and is taken by mouth. It has been shown to only be effective for men and is best for the early stages of hair loss. If you’ve considered taking finasteride for your hair loss, then keep reading to learn more about how it works and to decide if it may be a good option for you.

W​hat is Finasteride?

Finasteride is an antiandrogen that slows the production of dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is taken orally and must be prescribed by a doctor. Finasteride for hair loss only works when active hair follicles are present, so it will not be effective on bald spots or total baldness. Similar to other nonsurgical hair loss treatments, finasteride works only for as long as you take it, so once you stop using it, the hair loss process will resume. Your doctor will consider your age, severity of hair loss, existing medical conditions and initial reaction to the drug to decide if it is right for you and determine the correct dosage amount.

How Does Finasteride Work?

DHT is an androgen, a male sex hormone that affects the developement of certain characteristics in men, including body hair. High amounts of DHT can lead to the shrinking of hair follicles, which can lead to hair loss. Since finasteride is an antiandrogen, it will slow the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which then improves the health and growth cycle of hair follicles. Finasteride helps hair follicles function for longer and produces healthier, thicker strands.

Does Finasteride Regrow Hair?

Finasteride will not regrow hair if there is no active follicle, so it will not regrow hair in bald spots. It will increase hair growth and decrease hair loss in areas where follicles are present and active. You may notice a fuller head of hair as you take this medication because it will produce thicker strands. Finasteride is only shown to be effective in men. Topical Minoxidil is a good option for both men and women.