Male pattern baldness is a common condition, but it can be traumatic for many men, particularly if hair loss occurs rapidly or at an early age. Fortunately, there are several treatments available that can prevent hair loss or encourage new growth. Finasteride has been reported to do both. It is one of the most successful therapies for treating androgenetic alopecia and has been approved by the FDA for this purpose.
The Science of Hair Loss
Hair is generated inside follicles and goes through a growth and shed phase. In normal follicles, healthy new hair will grow after each shedding. When this pattern is interrupted, the follicles can shrink. The miniaturized follicles will cause the hair to fall out more quickly and become shorter and finer with each growth cycle. Eventually, hairs will not grow out to the surface of the skin.
The interruption of this process is typically caused by hormones. When the testosterone in the body combines with an enzyme named 5-alpha reductase, it may transform into a more potent hormone called dihydrotestosterone. DHT can attach to genetically predisposed hair follicles and attack them as if they were foreign objects. As a result, the follicles shrink, and the hair becomes thinner and shorter until it stops growing altogether.
How Finasteride Can Help
If you plan on including this medication in your treatment regimen, it’s important to understand how it works. Essentially, finasteride prevents 5-alpha reductase from converting testosterone to DHT. The use of this medication can cause DHT levels in the blood and scalp to decline substantially. With less DHT in the system, the attacks on the hair follicles decrease, which reduces the amount of hair loss.
Finasteride is most effective when it comes to protecting certain follicles from DHT. The main regions that take well to treatment include the crown, top and front of the scalp. By taking a 1 mg tablet every day, you may start to see an improvement in hair growth and thickness in these areas within just a few months. Some people don’t experience the full benefits for approximately one year.
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Clinical Studies on Finasteride
After Merck & Co., the manufacturer of finasteride, decided to market the pill as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia, the FDA reported positive results from clinical trials on the drug. The findings showed that daily use of finasteride can lower the levels of DHT by approximately 60 percent. This decrease in the hormone resulted in a cessation of hair loss or an increase of growth in almost 83 percent of the men undergoing treatment.
By lowering the amount of DHT in the scalp and bloodstream, finasteride can prevent future hair loss and aid in the regrowth of hair in adult men. It has not been approved by the FDA for use by women or individuals under the age of 18. When it comes to male pattern baldness, finasteride is clinically proven to be one of the most effective and easiest treatment methods.