Finasteride has been used to treat hair loss for many years now. It’s a hugely successful hair loss treatment, with one study finding that 83% of men suffering from male pattern baldness stopped losing hair while taking Finasteride .
But as with all medicines, there are some side effects to this drug, including Finasteride shedding . This temporary hair loss happens within the first few months of use, and it can cause alarm. But shedding is a perfectly normal part of the Finasteride treatment process, even when taking the recommended dosage which is usually one tablet (1 mg) taken once daily.
So what causes Finasteride shedding — and when can you expect to see sustained results from taking Finasteride?
What is Finasteride and how does it work?
Usually available under the brand name Propecia, Finasteride is a tablet that helps prevent further hair loss in men experiencing pattern baldness. It works by blocking the production of certain hormones in the body.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT) is the main cause of pattern hair loss. The body converts testosterone into DHT, which is why men are more commonly affected by hair loss than women. It’s also why Finasteride is generally unsuitable for addressing female hair loss. Finasteride reduces DHT production, which can prevent further hair loss. When you stop using Finasteride, DHT production resumes, so hair loss may continue if you stop taking the drug.
In the initial months of Finasteride use, many men actually notice more hair loss than usual. This is Finasteride shedding.
Why does Finasteride cause hair shedding?
Hair grows in cycles. The cycle starts with the growth phase (anagen), then transitions to a resting phase (catagen, followed by telogen – the resting stage of the hair growth cycle). The final stage of the cycle is the shedding phase is exogen.
When you start using Finasteride, follicles in the resting or telogen phase skip ahead to the growth phase, and begin to produce new hair. But before new hair can grow, these resting follicles must shed any existing hair. By doing this, they make way for healthy new hair in your dormant follicles.
How much Finasteride shedding is normal?
It’s normal to see a noticeable amount of shedding in the first few months of using Finasteride. Even people who don’t experience any kind of hair loss can expect to shed 50-100 hairs each day , so don’t worry if you see even more than this.
Different people will see shedding at different stages of Finasteride use. Mostly it happens 2-3 months after you begin using the treatment, though for some people Finasteride shedding can happen as early as 2 weeks after treatment.
How long does Finasteride shedding last?
Finasteride shedding usually lasts no more than approximately 2 weeks. While the shedding stage is ongoing, it’s important to remember that you’re shedding hair to make way for new hair growth — so try not to be too concerned about your hair loss during this phase. If you’re really worried, or the shedding has lasted much longer than 2 weeks, speak to your hair loss consultant for advice.
Can you stop or slow Finasteride shedding?
The only way to stop or slow Finasteride shedding is to stop taking the drug. However, Finasteride isn’t a permanent solution to hair loss — if you stop taking it, DHT production will resume, and your natural hair loss will continue.
Finasteride shedding is a normal part of the hair growth process when taking this medication, and is actually a sign that the drug is working — so you shouldn’t try to prevent it. The best thing to do is continue with your prescribed course of medication, and speak to your trichologist about any concerns.
How long does it take to see sustained hair growth from Finasteride?
Like other types of hair loss treatment, it usually takes a few months to see sustained, noticeable hair growth after you start taking Finasteride. Most men start to see results 6-8 months after treatment, with final results usually visible after around 12-18 months.
You can promote healthy hair growth by living a healthy lifestyle. This includes eating a balanced diet that contains all the hair growth nutrients you need, getting plenty of exercise, and taking care of your existing hair by minimising the use of harsh styling products.
Other Side Effects
To learn more about the side effects of finasteride please read our complete finasteride guide.
More hair loss solutions
Finasteride isn’t the best hair loss treatment for everyone. It’s unsuitable for most women, and the potential side effects can deter some men from opting for this treatment.
However, there are plenty of alternative hair loss treatments available, including other medications, vitamin and laser therapies, and hair transplants. Studies suggest that combining treatments such as Finasteride and Minoxidil can improve chances of successful hair growth even more , so getting a personalised treatment plan is the best way to stimulate sustained hair growth.
How can you tell if Finasteride is working for you?
When you’re anxious to see results, it can be tempting to constantly monitor your hair for signs of growth. But hair restoration is a slow process that needs time, care and patience. However, there are some signs you can look for to see the effectiveness of your hair loss treatment. Learn more about how you can tell if your hair loss product is working.
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