Topical Finasteride is a modern hair loss medication that helps tackle male pattern baldness. Applying topical Finasteride to the scalp can slow hair loss and promote regrowth.
Topical Finasteride is much less widely used than oral Finasteride, with only 17% of hair restoration surgeons saying they always or often recommend it (compared to 69% who say the same of oral Finasteride) . But despite this, evidence suggests it can be almost equally effective for treating male hair loss.
So should you try topical Finasteride to tackle your hair loss? Learn all about topical Finasteride, including how it works, how long it takes to see results, and why it’s a good alternative to oral Finasteride.
Topical Finasteride is a liquid solution designed to treat male pattern baldness. Patients apply the solution directly to balding areas on the scalp.
The active ingredient is Finasteride, which is found in successful oral hair loss treatments like Propecia.
Topical Finasteride is only suitable for scalp hair loss. Finasteride won’t work for beard growth or body hair.
Yes. There’s overwhelming evidence to suggest topical Finasteride can regrow hair in those with androgenetic alopecia (also known as male pattern baldness in men or female pattern baldness in women)[2-5].
A research review into the effectiveness of topical Finasteride found studies consistently demonstrated :
These images show hair growth improvements following a six month course of 0.25% topical Finasteride and 3% Minoxidil, compared with Minoxidil alone:
Finasteride reduces DHT levels in the body. DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, is a hormone that binds to the androgen receptors in your hair follicles. This causes your follicles to shrink and stop producing hair.
Unlike oral Finasteride, which reduces DHT levels throughout your whole body, topical Finasteride only affects scalp DHT levels. That means it can positively impact your hair, without causing problems related to systemically low DHT levels.
Topical Finasteride is a DHT blocker, not a DHT cream. DHT creams actually boost DHT levels, so they’re not usually suitable for treating hair loss.
Like oral Finasteride, topical Finasteride is generally used by male pattern baldness patients. It can’t tackle other types of hair loss, such as alopecia areata or telogen effluvium, as these aren’t triggered by high DHT levels.
Some researchers have suggested topical Finasteride may be safe and effective for women with female pattern baldness . This is an important finding, as women are usually advised to avoid oral Finasteride due to potential complications and side effects.
That said, topical Finasteride hasn’t yet been licensed for use in any patients, regardless of gender or hair loss condition. So it’s best to follow the advice given by your doctor or hair loss consultant when it comes to choosing a hair loss treatment.
Female hair loss is often difficult to diagnose, as there are many possible contributing factors. Find out more about getting a diagnosis and finding the right female hair loss treatment.
Topical Finasteride can start to visibly reduce hair loss in just six months . This is slightly longer than it takes to see results from oral Finasteride, which can have a noticeable impact within four months .
Some online tutorials claim to show you how to make topical Finasteride. This usually involves crushing oral Finasteride tablets and dissolving them in liquid to make a solution.
However, it’s not a good idea to make topical Finasteride at home. Here’s why:
If you want to try a topical Finasteride solution, it’s best to ask your hair loss clinic for advice.
Yes. In fact, studies suggest combining topical Finasteride with Minoxidil can be more effective than using one or the other [5-6]. Minoxidil is a licensed topical hair loss solution that’s widely used to tackle multiple types of hair loss.
Using a topical Finasteride-Minoxidil solution can also maintain your results after a course of oral Finasteride .
This patient’s results show his hair loss before treatment (a), after oral Finasteride treatment (b), after discontinuing oral Finasteride (c), and after using a topical Finasteride-Minoxidil solution to improve hair growth (d):
Topical Finasteride solutions aren’t yet licensed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or any national medical approval body.
Although early studies show promising results, there isn’t yet enough evidence to suggest topical Finasteride is safe and effective for widespread use.
The FDA requires drugs to go through a rigorous testing process with thousands of users before they’re approved. Most topical Finasteride studies so far have only been tested on very small population samples.
Even though topical Finasteride hasn’t yet been licensed for hair loss, private hair loss specialists can prescribe it for you off-label if they believe it could be an effective treatment.
Topical Finasteride usually comes in a spray or dropper bottle, so it’s really easy to apply. Here’s a quick step-by-step guide:
You can also follow these steps if you’re using a topical Finasteride-Minoxidil combination spray.
Topical Finasteride appears to have fewer significant adverse effects than the oral version. But there are a few topical Finasteride side effects to be aware of :
These side effects are usually localised to the scalp, and don’t spread to other areas of the body.
The Wimpole Clinic can prescribe topical Finasteride (plus a range of other hair loss treatments) to men and women experiencing pattern baldness.
In your in-person or video consultation, we’ll establish the cause of your hair loss, and work with you to find the best possible treatment for your hair loss. If this includes topical Finasteride, we’ll talk you through how to apply it for best results, and discuss the results you can expect to see.
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