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Does Finasteride (Propecia) Really Prevent Balding?

Male pattern baldness, also known as androgenic alopecia, is a common type of hair loss that occurs in most men at some stage.

Typically, hair begins to thin at the sides (temple area) and the top of the head. Gradually a bald patch develops in the middle of the scalp. The receding sides and bald spot on the top enlarge gradually, eventually joining and leaving a bald patch at the front.

You can read more about it on the NHS website and on our Hair Loss Treatment Page.

But why does this happen? And why is it more common in men?

The answer lies in the male hormone testosterone.

Skin cells in the scalp convert testosterone into a similar compound called dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

For some men, their hair follicles are more sensitive to DHT than others. Exposure to DHT will cause their hair follicles to shrink. Any hair that is produced by a shrinking follicle gets thinner and thinner until no hair is left.

Does Finasteride (Propecia) Actually Work?

The answer is yes!

Finasteride, which also goes by the brand name Propecia, is called a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor.

Finasteride blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone into DHT. By lowering the levels of DHT in the scalp, Finasteride helps halt hair loss and even reverses it in some cases!

Studies have shown that a single dose of Finasteride can reduce DHT levels by 64% in 24 hours. According to clinical trials, finasteride prevents further hair loss and promotes hair regrowth for 90% of men who take it. Hair may also appear thicker and fuller than before!

Finasteride works best on thinning areas, where the follicles still have some hair. The hair follicles will be stimulated to grow new hair strands in more volume after an initial shedding phase. This is why it is important to continue taking finasteride, at a 1mg dose, daily for 3-6 months for any benefits to be seen.

But… Why Does It Not Seem to Work for Me?

Finasteride is effective at treating male pattern baldness, however it cannot treat other types of hair loss like chemotherapy-related hair loss and alopecia areata for example. You must always speak to your GP or seek advice from a qualified healthcare professional before starting any treatment.

Finasteride also may not be as effective if your male pattern baldness is at an advanced stage, for example if you have a smooth hairless bald spot on your scalp. This is because those follicles have shrunk to the extent that no hair can re-grow.

Taking Finasteride at doses higher than 1mg to treat hair loss will not produce quicker or better results, and is not recommended.

The next thing to have is PATIENCE!

You need to be taking Finasteride every day for a minimum of 3-6 months, even up to a year, to have any noticeable difference.

If you notice no difference after 12 months of taking Finasteride, consult your GP or a qualified healthcare professional.

You have to continue taking Finasteride for the effects to remain. Stopping Finasteride means your hair loss will return.

The choice of treatment depends on your preference, your medical condition(s) and affordability. As always, you must always consult your doctor or a qualified healthcare professional before starting any new medication. You can contact a member of our Pharmacy Team on 0203 370 4321 or through our website for more information.

Hopefully, this article can help you in your journey of making an informed decision when it comes to taking Finasteride!


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