Most of us will unfortunately start to see our hair wave us goodbye at some point or another, and those who’ve already seen it begin can often find it a difficult experience, and one they’d sooner be doing without. Many of the men and women who experience hair loss can often find it taking a huge toll on their confidence and self-esteem, and ultimately suffer a number of mental health issues.

There are all sorts of solutions available though that can hopefully help to stimulate hair growth and avoid issues such as these, and the one we’re going to be taking a look into right now is Finasteride.

So if you’ve been dealing with hair loss and would like to do something about it, the following guide will take you through everything you need to know about Finasteride, from what it is and how it works to how effective it is and whether or not there are any nasty side effects you’ll need to worry about.

With any luck, by the time you’ve reached the end you’ll have found just the solution you’ve been looking for for treating your hair loss.

What is Finasteride?

Finasteride is the active ingredient found in Propecia, one of the better known hair loss treatments that are available. While more commonly sold under this name, it’s also available as a more affordable treatment under its own name too.

Both Propecia and Finasteride are available under the NHS, however not for the treatment of hair loss—the NHS prefers to use them to treat prostate enlargement. In most cases you’ll need to get it prescribed privately from your GP.

How does Finasteride Work?

Along with the genetics that we inherit from our parents and grandparents, a hormone known as DHT (dihydrotestosterone) is one of the main causes of male and female pattern hair loss, and the way that Finasteride works is by fighting the effects that DHT has on our hair follicles.

When treating male pattern hair loss, Finasteride is available in tablet form (either as Propecia or Finasteride, as mentioned earlier) and taken two times a day. As with most treatments for hair loss it’s always much more effective if used early on in the development of hair loss, rather than using it later on when it’s much more established.

It’s also important to realise that treating hair loss and curing baldness are two very different things, and Finasteride won’t be able to do the latter. Also, while Finasteride will be able to regulate and reduce the quantities of DHT that are causing your hair to shed, it’ll stop the second you stop taking it. Finasteride will only be able to prevent your hair loss for as long as you’re taking it.

Is Finasteride Effective?

Several years ago a 5 year study into the effectiveness of Finasteride for hair growth was undertaken, which showed more than 80% of the men who participated experienced a complete slow down of their hair loss within the 6 to 12 months that followed. 66% of those involved even reported regrowth, and all noticed a significant improvement in the appearance of their hair, along with its density.

While Finasteride can provide relatively quick results, it’ll still be a few months before anything notable or noticeable occurs. Those using the treatment can typically expect to see a difference after around 3 months, although it could take up to a year to achieve the full extent of your desired results. Hair takes a fair while to grow at the end of the day, and everyone’s going to experience his or her own regrowth at a different rate from the next person.

There may eventually come a point where the effects of taking Finasteride may start to dwindle and your hair loss begins to return. If this does occur then it’ll be worth visiting your doctor to see what he or she thinks. Whatever you do don’t take it upon yourself to start upping the dose—this won’t achieve anything, besides increasing the risk of potential side effects.

Does Finasteride Have any Side Effects to Worry About?

While Finasteride is a safe and effective treatment for remedying hair loss, there are still a few side effects that could potentially arise. It’s important to be aware that there’s a slim chance the following could occur when you commit yourself to the treatment:

— Rashes
— Headaches
— Weakness
— Dizziness
— Runny nose
— Tender breasts
— Breast enlargement
— Decreased libido
— Erectile dysfunction

As we hinted at earlier, Finasteride and Propecia are commonly used to treat prostate enlargement, in addition to being a treatment for hair loss. This is why some of the more extreme side effects may come as quite a surprise, and seem somewhat unrelated. If you do experience any changes around the breast area then it could lead to breast cancer, so be sure to consult with your doctor as soon as possible. The chances of these occurring are still rare and highly unlikely however

What Alternatives are Available

Not everyone will be best suited to Finasteride, and it’s typically only available as a male treatment anyway. If your doctor suggests you might not be well suited to the treatment, then it’s far from the end of the world; there are a few alternatives available that can help treat your hair loss. Some of these alternatives include:

Minoxidil: Minoxidil helps to correct hair loss by increasing the flow of blood to the thinning areas of the scalp, which stimulates the hair follicles and encourages hair regrowth. Minoxidil can be found in products such as Regaine, and has been proven to be an effective treatment for hair loss when applied to the scalp twice a day.

Nourikin: While Finasteride isn’t suitable for women, Nourikin is an alternative that is. Available in lotion, shampoo, or tablet form, Nourikin is a natural hair supplement created with marine protein extract, which helps to supply all necessary nutrients to the scalp that help to rejuvenate the follicles and encourage growth.