Hair loss drugs: compare and contrast

Hair Loss Drugs
finasteride minoxidil

finasteride minoxidilAnyone who is suffering from hair loss will be familiar with the two drugs currently available in the market designed to combat hereditary hair loss; Minoxidil and Finasteride.

It is important to understand that both drugs were originally designed to treat other conditions and were later developed as cures for hair loss. Finasteride was created to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia whereas Minoxidil was used to treat high blood pressure; both drugs were soon recognised and then marketed for their ability to promote hair growth and prevent hair fall.

The science behind the drugs

It should be noted that although Finasteride has been deemed as a safe method of hair regrowth in men, it is not prescribed to women who are in their childbearing years. This is because the drug is known to cause mutations in male foetuses; however women who are post-menopausal or unable to have children can use the drug successfully. Minoxidil was also originally prescribed to men only, yet after one decade it has now been approved for women also.

Finasteride affects hormones and is classed as a ‘5-alpha reductase inhibitor’. This means that it inhibits any build-up of di-hydrotestosterone (DHT) which is known to play a role in the development of hair loss. DHT is not known to have any useful function in an adult body, as it is a redundant function which is left over from puberty. Over a period of time, this build-up of DHT can cause hair loss in men. Finasteride is available in a tablet form which patients are required to take on a daily basis.

Minoxidil is usually offered as a topical treatment to be applied to affected areas twice a day. Some people believe that the drug works by increasing blood flow to the hair follicles yet no theory of how Minoxidil works has been conclusively proved correct.

Side effects

Known side effects for Finasteride are commonly male sexual problems such as erectile dysfunction and impotence. Minoxidil on the other hand can cause nausea, physical sickness and weight gain; unfortunately there is a low success rate for this drug also with only half of men seeing results.

Regardless of which medication your doctor prescribes you, both Minoxidil and Finasteride need to be indefinitely taken for the hair growth effects to continue – otherwise the hair loss will return.  If you want to talk to a specialist about these drugs or other hair loss treatments then give us a call here at His Hair Clinic on 0121 516 1767


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