Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
If you’re dealing with hair loss, you’ve probably searched high and low for a solution. And you’re not alone — male androgenetic alopecia (a fancy name for male pattern baldness) is the most common form of hair loss in men, affecting 30 to 50 percent of men by age 50.
In your search for an answer, you’ve most likely come across the medication finasteride, one of the most effective male pattern hair loss treatments available.
Typically taken as an oral medication, finasteride works by blocking the hormones that cause male pattern baldness to develop. When used daily, it can stop hair loss and even help encourage hair regrowth.
The typical finasteride dosage for hair loss is 1 mg (milligram) daily, but lower dosages can work to prevent hair loss.
Below, we’ll go over each finasteride dose for hair loss, as well as the effectiveness of each finasteride dosing.
Finasteride is an FDA-approved medication for treating benign prostate hyperplasia (BPH), or an enlarged prostate, and male pattern hair loss in men. While this drug was first approved to treat BPH, finasteride for hair loss wasn’t approved until 1997.
Hair loss from male pattern baldness occurs as a result of genetics and exposure to certain hormones. Chief among these is a hormone called dihydrotestosterone, or DHT.
DHT is a byproduct of testosterone — an important male androgen hormone your body produces. As you get older, DHT can attack your hair follicles, causing them to stop producing new hairs.
Finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. It works by inhibiting an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase — the complex protein responsible for the conversion of testosterone into DHT. By doing this, the medication causes DHT levels in your body to decrease, allowing your hair to avoid DHT-related damage.
Research shows that finasteride is highly effective at reducing DHT. When used at a typical dose, it can reduce DHT levels in your body by more than 70 percent.
As with any medication, there’s the possibility of experiencing adverse effects when taking finasteride for hair loss or BPH. The most common finasteride side effects include:
You may also experience more serious side effects, such as an allergic reaction or drug interactions with other prescription drugs or over-the-counter medications. However, finasteride doesn’t currently have any known drug interactions.
Finasteride may decrease the risk of low-grade prostate cancer while potentially increasing the risk of more serious high-grade prostate cancer. This medication can also affect the results of the blood test used to detect prostate cancer (prostatic-specific antigen or PSA levels).
The standard finasteride dose for hair loss is 1 mg per day. Generic finasteride (or the brand name Propecia®) is sold in this dosage.
The 5-mg version of finasteride, sold under the brand name Proscar®, is designed to treat BPH.
Our finasteride 1 mg versus 5 mg guide goes into more detail on how this version of finasteride works.
The most common form of this medication is oral finasteride tablets, but an effective two-in-one topical finasteride and minoxidil spray hair loss treatment is also available.
Topical finasteride may be an option for those who don’t like taking an oral tablet each day, as well as folks who experience bad side effects on the medication or want to combine two effective hair loss treatments.
The combination spray contains less than 0.5% finasteride, but dosages may vary among different topical finasteride solutions.
So, how effective is each finasteride dosage for hair loss? Is it possible to take a lower finasteride hair loss dose and still reap the benefits? Here’s what to know.
This is the most common finasteride dose for hair loss. When taken daily, research shows 1 mg is extremely effective at slowing down and stopping hair loss from male pattern baldness.
A large-scale Japanese study looked at the effects of finasteride in men with male pattern baldness over 10 years. More than 530 men used finasteride daily at a typical dosage of 1 mg.
This resulted in 99.1 percent of the men experiencing prevention of male pattern baldness progression and 91.5 percent experiencing a moderate or significant improvement in their hair growth.
Put simply, the majority of men’s hair loss stopped after they started using finasteride, with no worsening male pattern baldness over 10 years.
At 5 mg, finasteride is used to treat prostate enlargement. However, this finasteride dosage is not recommended for hair loss.
While it may be tempting to speed up your finasteride results timeline by using a higher dosage, more finasteride won’t offer any improvements over what you’d get with 1 mg. And you could end up with a greater risk of experiencing side effects.
This article has tips for getting the most out of your finasteride results.
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A study published in 2015 found that the effects of finasteride and minoxidil regularly used together helped men maintain a good hair density level.
Another study found that a 0.25% topical solution of finasteride applied just once a day was effective at improving hair count compared to a placebo and was well-tolerated.
Finasteride has shown the best results if taken consistently once a day. But if you find yourself with a missed dose of finasteride, just take your next one at the regularly scheduled time. There’s no need to take a double dose of finasteride.
How long finasteride takes to work varies by person. But the average timeline is three to four months to produce an improvement in your hair, even with consistent daily use.
Generic for Rogaine®, this FDA-approved over-the-counter version of topical minoxidil is used for regrowth on the crown of the head.
This is the FDA-approved dynamic duo. When used together, men saw better results in clinical trials compared to using either alone.
If you’re looking for something effective but don’t want too many steps in your routine, this once-a-day pill could be right for you.
Clinically proven to regrow hair in 3-6 months, no pills required.
Though incredibly frustrating, male pattern hair loss is very common — and there are ways to treat and prevent further balding. One common medication is finasteride, available as an oral tablet or topical solution.
Finasteride works by blocking the hormone responsible for hair loss, DHT or dihydrotestosterone. This allows new hair to grow back in.
Research shows that 1 mg per day is generally the most effective finasteride dosage for hair loss. The 5-mg dose is used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate), and this higher dosage isn’t recommended for hair loss.
Although research is limited, those who use finasteride at a reduced dosage may have a lower risk of experiencing some side effects.
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