Everything You Need to Know About Topical Finasteride

Oral finasteride now has a topical version, but how well does it work? 

Hair loss is a reality that many men have had to grapple with over the years. Finasteride, traditionally taken orally, has become the first line of treatment against this battle, slowing or even stopping hair loss for many who use it. Now, there’s a topical version of this medication. This newer method promises similar outcomes but potentially with fewer side effects. 

What is topical finasteride?

Put simply, topical finasteride is just like the oral version, but instead of a pill, it’s applied directly to the scalp. You can typically buy it in the form of serum, gel, or spray. The idea is to target the affected areas directly and give the hair follicles a fighting chance against dihydrotestosterone or DHT—the hormone that causes the hair follicles to shrink leading to premature hair loss. 

Does topical finasteride work?

The effectiveness of oral finasteride has been supported by decades of research. In fact, it was the first hair loss medication approved by the FDA. A clinical study demonstrated that it halted hair loss for 83% of men suffering from male pattern baldness over a two-year period. Additional studies also show that it can slow down or even stop ongoing hair loss in a 3-month period and promote hair growth for up to a decade.

As for the topical version of this treatment, early studies show that it is effective. A randomized, controlled trial in 2022 revealed that topical finasteride notably enhanced hair count compared to a placebo. Users have reported positive results, including hair regrowth and reduced hair shedding. What’s more promising about this topical treatment is it exhibited fewer overall side effects. By delivering finasteride directly to the scalp, it addresses the problem at its root (pun intended). However, as with all treatments, individual results can vary.

Is topical finasteride as effective as oral?

While oral finasteride has been the go-to option for pattern baldness in men, the topical version shows promising results. Some studies suggest it’s just as effective in stimulating hair growth and managing hair loss. The added advantage? The localized application means a reduced amount of the drug might enter the bloodstream, potentially leading to fewer side effects.

Is topical finasteride safe? Does it have side effects?

The safety profile of topical finasteride is encouraging. Since less of the drug is absorbed into the bloodstream compared to oral administration, the risk of side effects could be lower. But, like all medications, there’s no one-size-fits-all. Some users have reported minor scalp irritation or redness. It’s essential to consult with a hair transplant surgeon or health professional to understand what’s best for your unique needs. 

Do I need a topical finasteride prescription?

Yes, you do. Finasteride, whether oral or topical, is a prescription medication. This isn’t just a formality. Your hair transplant doctor will assess if it’s the right treatment for you, considering potential interactions, your overall health, and the specific pattern or cause of your hair loss.

Can you take oral and topical finasteride together?

No. Both oral and topical finasteride work to combat hair loss by targeting DHT. Some might consider using both forms simultaneously to maximize results. However, combining them could potentially lead to increased systemic exposure to the drug, raising the risk of side effects. There are other ways to combine finasteride with other treatments. For instance, you may take oral finasteride and use topical minoxidil to get the best of both worlds. However, only your hair loss physician can tell whether this approach is appropriate for you. 

Who Should Use Topical Finasteride? 

Topical finasteride is primarily designed for men with male pattern baldness, especially those looking for an alternative to the oral form or wanting to reduce potential systemic side effects. It’s most effective for those in the initial to moderate stages of hair loss. However, it’s crucial to note that finasteride is not recommended for women. The only FDA-approved hair loss medication for women is minoxidil. 

Topical Finasteride vs. Topical Minoxidil

While both are heroes in the hair growth arena, there are differences. Minoxidil, also applied topically, works by stimulating hair follicles, increasing their size, and prolonging the growth phase of hair. Finasteride, on the other hand, mainly targets DHT. Some users prefer minoxidil for its ability to improve blood flow while others lean towards finasteride due to its hormone-targeting mechanism.

Using Finasteride and Minoxidil Together

The question arises, why not get the best of both worlds? Many dermatologists recommend using both treatments in tandem for a two-pronged approach. While finasteride goes after DHT, minoxidil focuses on boosting follicle health. Together, they could offer a more comprehensive solution. However, it’s paramount to consult a hair transplant surgeon before combining treatments to know you’re investing in the treatment that works best for you. 

Consult with South Florida’s Top Hair Transplant Surgeons.

Our hair transplant surgeons, Dr. Aron Nusbaum, Dr. Bernard Nusbaum, and Dr. Timothy Wu, have a combined 50+ years of experience in hair transplant surgery and hair restoration. We offer the most comprehensive evaluations in our clinic, providing you with a treatment plan tailored to your needs and desires. Call us to schedule a consultation with South Florida’s top hair transplant surgeons. 

Miami Hair Institute is conveniently located at 3850 Bird Road, Suite 102, Miami, FL 33146, serving patients in the South Florida area, including Miami, Coral Gables, Miami Beach, Gladeview, South Miami, and more.