If you want finasteride to work its magic and regrow your hair, you’ll need to know how and when to take the medication. Whether you’re taking oral finasteride or the topical version, understanding how to take finasteride will get you the best results.
What is finasteride?
Finasteride is one of only two FDA-approved prescription medications typically used for treating hair loss in males. Originally, finasteride was prescribed to treat benign prostate enlargement and other prostate issues. However, finasteride doctors may also prescribe finasteride to treat hair loss. (01)
How does Finasteride work?
Most cases of hair loss in men occur because of increased amounts of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) in the body. DHT is a hormone that plays a significant role in the development of male sex characteristics and is must more potent than testosterone. DHT is so powerful that it attaches to the same sites as testosterone, like the hair follicles.
An excess of DHT impacts hair follicles and causes them to shrink. In turn, these injured hair follicles become unable to grow hair. By the age of 50 years, over half of the men in the U.S. will probably experience hair loss mediated by DHT. Finasteride works by limiting the action of 5-alpha-reductase, the enzyme used to produce dihydrotestosterone (DHT). The resulting decrease in DHT slows hair loss and can encourage hair regrowth. With regular use, finasteride reduces DHT levels in the body by an average of almost 70 percent. (02, 03)
What types of hair loss can finasteride treat?
The FDA approves Finasteride to treat the most common type of hair loss for men: male-pattern hair loss, also known as androgenetic alopecia. Male-pattern hair loss affects about 50 million adult males in the U.S. With finasteride, men may see an 83% stabilization of hair loss, and 60% of cases may see their hair regrow. Because finasteride prevents DHT from forming, it works on most DHT-related types of hair loss. (01)
What should you tell your doctor before taking finasteride?
Like most medications, finasteride comes with some contraindications. Before taking finasteride, let your doctor know if you’ve ever experienced the following:
- Liver disease
- Abnormal liver tests
- Prostate cancer
- An allergy to finasteride
Give your doctor a list of medications, both prescription and nonprescription, that you’re currently taking. This list should include any vitamins, nutraceuticals, and herbal products. Inform your doctor if you smoke, consume alcohol, or use drugs. (01)
Although finasteride shows excellent results in men, children and women in their reproductive years are not typically prescribed finasteride. For both men and women, a doctor may perform laboratory tests and thoroughly assess before prescribing finasteride whether the medication is taken orally or topically. (01)
How should I take oral finasteride?
Oral finasteride is taken daily with a full glass of water, as prescribed. Taking finasteride at the same time each day helps to keep a stable level of finasteride in the body stable at all times. For best results, finasteride should be taken regularly without missing any doses. Because oral finasteride works internally, women are not usually prescribed oral finasteride.
How should I apply topical finasteride?
Topical finasteride is a liquid that is applied using a calibrated dropper. To use a dropper:
- Line up the dropper to the scalp area.
- Apply the solution by squeezing the dropper.
While finasteride does come in a spray or gel form, a calibrated dropper offers a mess-free application. A dropper, rather than a gel or spray, makes medication application more accurate and reduces medication waste. Rather than trapping medication onto existing hair – where it can’t do its job – a dropper spreads medication directly onto the scalp. Because topical finasteride is applied externally, the medication is safe to use for women over 50. (04)
What if a dose is missed?
When a finasteride dose is missed, avoid the temptation to double up on the next dose. Instead, skip the missed dose. Take the next dose at the regular time instead and resume treatment as prescribed.
People who forget to take their finasteride too often or who skip their treatments frequently may not see successful results. Too many missed doses lower finasteride levels and may produce lackluster results. To see the full advantages of finasteride treatments, it’s crucial to adhere to the prescribed regimen.
What should I do when too much finasteride is taken?
If a finasteride overdose occurs and the person has trouble breathing, has a seizure, or is unconscious, seek medical attention as soon as possible. The Poison Help line (1-800-222-1222) can also offer assistance if an overdose is suspected.
What finasteride side effects may occur?
Like any other medication, side effects may occur with oral or topical finasteride. There is a higher risk for side effects when taking the oral form of finasteride. Studies on topical finasteride indicate a very low incidence of sexual side effects. Specifically, only one subject out of 268 participants (or 0.37%) showed any sexual side effects when taking finasteride topically. On the other hand, oral finasteride is linked to sexual side effects in 1.8% to 3.8% of users. (05)
Other rare side effects that may occur with finasteride are:
- Changes in breast or nipple shape and size
- Nipple discharge
- Facial swelling
- Difficulty breathing
- Problems swallowing
In most cases, doctors prescribe the lowest dose and titrate the medication up to reduce side effects and ensure safety. Many people who do experience mild side effects find that the effects disappear after their bodies adjust to the medication.
What should I know about the storage and disposal of this medication?
Appropriate storage and disposal of finasteride keeps the medication safe and in good condition. Finasteride should be kept tightly closed when not in use and kept in the container it came in. Store the medication out of reach of children and away from moisture and extreme temperatures. Discarded medication and containers should be disposed of in such a way to ensure pets and children can not obtain them. We encourage our users to read our blog titled “Side Effects of Topical Finasteride: Review of Current Medical Literature.”
What other information should I know?
Your doctor will monitor your progress on finasteride to ensure efficacy and safety. Monitoring may include a short assessment or laboratory tests. Because finasteride isn’t for everyone and requires a prescription, don’t let anyone else use your finasteride.
How long does finasteride take to work?
Every person sees results from finasteride at a different pace. Some individuals may not see results until three months into regular medication use. However, finasteride starts working and lowers DHT from the very first dose.
Finasteride has a short half-life, which means it doesn’t last long in the body. Because of its short half-life, it’s essential to stick to your doctor’s prescribed schedule to keep enough medication in the body for peak effectiveness. Taking finasteride for hair loss takes patience. So, remember, a finasteride regimen is not a sprint – it is a marathon with a worthwhile prize in the end! (04)
Finasteride and Then Some!
Happy Head uses a proprietary formula of topical Finasteride and a 40% higher concentration of Minoxidil with Retinoic Acid. Each product is crafted individually for each client, offering the best results and the lowest risk for side effects. Every hair growth formula is customized, factoring every client’s age, sex, and medical history. At Happy Head, you’ll have the attention of board-certified dermatologists specializing in hair growth every step of the way. If you are interested in a science-based satisfaction-guaranteed hair growth formula, visit Happy Head today.