Affecting both men and women, hair loss is one of the most common health problems. Finasteride and minoxidil are proven remedies that slow down the hair loss process. These two treatments have also been associated with hair growth. As both perform the same function, it may be difficult to tell whether minoxidil or finasteride is suitable for you.
What is finasteride and how does it work?
Finasteride is part of medications that are known as class-5-alpha inhibitors. This is because it blocks the effects of the class-5-alpha reductase, known for testosterone conversion into DHT(dihydrotestosterone) in the body.
Finasteride is an oral drug that is often associated with the shrinking of an enlarged prostate. Remember, DHT is the hormone that miniaturizes hair follicles and causes their poor growth. As such, finasteride stops the conversion of DHT and consequently reduces its existing amount in the body.
In essence, finasteride acts as a shield of sorts that protects the hair follicle in your scalp from exposure. It also ensures that they do not suffer from the devastating effects of DHT. Because it takes longer for hair damage due to DHT to take place, finasteride beats the process and causes mild hair regrowth in patches of hair that may be starting to thin.
However, because finasteride is specific to DHT, it does not work when hair loss due to chemotherapy, medication, or conditions such as hypothyroidism occur.
In addition to this, finasteride should not be used in women who are premenopausal or those who are experiencing side effects like breast pain, discharge in the nipple, or trouble urinating.
What is minoxidil and how does it work?
Minoxidil is available as an over-the-counter medication because it is a vasodilator. Unlike finasteride that inhibits the role of DHT in the body, minoxidil works by widening blood vessels that are found inside the scalp and consequently, increasing blood flow to the hair follicles.
While there are no specific studies that point to increase blood flow and hair growth, minoxidil uniquely does this. Additionally, it lengthens the hair growth cycle (anagen). While minoxidil does not actively inhibit hair growth, it promotes hair growth by interrupting the hair resting state (telogen phase) by allowing for hair shedding and encouraging the growth of new hair follicles.
As such. minoxidil users may experience hair shedding within the first months of use. If users experience side effects like dizziness, fainting spells, or stinging, then use of the drug should be discontinued.
Finasteride or minoxidil: which is better?
When it comes to minoxidil vs finasteride, they are both effective because they work in different ways. It all depends on the kind of treatment that you are seeking and your personal needs. Finasteride and minoxidil prevent hair loss and hair growth. The only difference is the level at which they do this. According to numerous scientific studies, when finasteride is used consecutively for two years, then i6ty improves hair growth by 15% more than minoxidil.
But this does not take away from its counterpart. Minoxidil has also been featured in studies as a hair growth agent.
Minoxidil vs finasteride side effects
There are side effects to using both finasteride and minoxidil. But they are not detrimental. Scientific studies report that they are well-tolerated within a majority of people.
These remedies have been proven safe for use. However, when the side effects are persistent, you should discontinue using minoxidil and finasteride. Thereafter, consult a doctor on the best way forward.
Minoxidil vs finasteride dosage
Minoxidil and finasteride do not come in the same dosage forms. For the best results, the medications should be used at their recommended dosages. While a normal dosage of minoxidil is 1ml, of liquid solution that is applied to the scalp twice per day, finasteride is limited to 1 mg per day, with or without food;
Can you take finasteride and minoxidil together?
Contrary to popular belief, studies show that finasteride and minoxidil are safe to take together. A majority of people use these treatments together to achieve optimum results. Because they work in different body parts, there is no risk in taking them at the same time.
The final verdict
You should seek advice from your doctor and check for drug interactions before starting your hair loss treatment. It is evident that minoxidil and finasteride work in different capacities. But if you are currently under medication, also seek medical advice to determine if it is safe to take on hair loss treatment.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has an ongoing interest in mental health and well-being.