Why topical finasteride is preferred over oral finasteride?

Why topical finasteride is preferred over oral finasteride?

There are some things you just cannot avoid, spoilers of your favourite shows, pot holes, rickshaw walas rejecting you and hearing about the side-effects of finasteride. Anyone who googles the term pattern hair loss is bound to come by two of the most commonly prescribed FDA-approved treatments for it - Minoxidil and Finasteride. 

Let us first understand what is pattern hair loss?

Male or female pattern hair loss is the most common type of hair loss condition in India and affects over 1 in 4 people between the ages of 21-60. It is caused by DHT which starts shrinking your hair follicles, once they start shrinking they can no longer produce thick and healthy hair. The hair thinning progresses to hair loss. There are a total of 7 stages of this condition. It is easily manageable between stages 1-4. In men, it presents as a receding hairline or thinning in the crown area. Whereas, it women it causes their partition to widen and poor hair growth. 

Too much jargon? Let us make things a little simple. 

What is DHT?

DHT is an androgen or sex hormone that is found in everyone’s body. DHT is important for the development of biological sex differences in men and women during embryo development, maturation of scrotum and male genitals, growth of body and facial hair and maintenance of prostate gland. So all in all, it is very natural and important. 

So how is it connected to hair loss?

Everyone has Testosterone and DHT but not everyone has hair loss. Because DHT causing hair loss depends on your genetic disposition or sensitivity to DHT which makes it affects your follicles by shrinking them which leads to hair thinning and hair loss and causes pattern hair loss. And for those of you wondering how you have hair loss when absolutely no one in your family does. Let us tell you that research has shown that some people are more prone to the effects of DHT on the scalp is based on the variations of their androgen receptor (AR) gene. 

What are minoxidil and finasteride?

While minoxidil is a vasodilator (it dilates blood vessels in the place you apply to increase blood flow to your shrinking follicles) used as a topical solution and is available in different concentrations of 2, 5, 7 and 10%. Whereas, finasteride is a dihydrotestosterone (DHT) blocker that prevents DHT from binding to 5-AR receptors in your follicles to prevent them from shrinking. It is available in both topical and oral formulations. How does it do that? It stops the conversion of testosterone into DHT by shrinking your prostrate and thus reducing your hair loss. 

Too much jargon? Let us make things a little simple. 

Now that you know about DHT and finasteride, let us understand the side effects of finasteride when consumed orally or applied topically. 

Oral finasteride works through systemic absorption which means the absorption occurs from every part of the body skin, hair, liver etc, but topical finasteride provides localised or targeted treatment and thus has significantly decreased absorption when compared to the oral formula. 

Studies have shown that around 2 to 3% (1 out of 20) of men consuming oral finasteride will experience adverse side effects such as low libido, erectile dysfunction and low ejaculation volume. Two studies that tested the use of topical finasteride vs oral finasteride showed that not only did topical finasteride give better results in reducing hair fall but also had no adverse side effects on sexual health. There are, however, some mild side effects such as irritation, headaches and lightheadedness. 

But topical finasteride is rarely used independently and that is mainly because research has shown that a combination of minoxidil and finasteride shows better and faster results in men suffering from androgenic alopecia. That is why at Traya we combine our 5% minoxidil with 0.1% finasteride

Minoxidil 5% with finasteride

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Heena is a part of our core team. She is a lit head! She has an extraordinary flair for writing and has completed her Masters in English Literature. She is a total nerd about medical journals and loves research.

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