Dutasteride has been popping online recently as a means to treat male pattern baldness. Claims might go from treating hair loss to full out revert it. But, is it actually a good hair loss treatment? Does it have any side effects? Or is it mostly placebo?
Let’s dive in and see if taking dutasteride can help regrow hair.
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What is Dutasteride and how does it work?
In the US, dutasteride is a medication approved to treat BPH (benign prostatic hypertrophy), but is often prescribed off-label for AGA Androgenetic Alopecia. AGA is a genetic condition that affects millions of men, starting typically with a receding hairline and hair loss in the crown area of the scalp.
The primary androgen known to promote Androgenetic Alopecia, is a hormone called DHT dihydrotestosterone. Exposure to DHT over time, causes hair follicles to weaken. This causes the hairline to recede and diminishes the coverage of the scalp.
Dutasteride belongs to a class of medications called 5AR 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors that can suppress the activity of the 5AR enzymes, which convert testosterone to DHT dihydrotestosterone.
In fewer words: lowering DHT levels helps prevent male pattern hair loss and promote hair regrowth, which can be achieved through dutasteride, which is available in oral tablets and topical treatment.
Dutasteride versus Finasteride
The 5AR inhibitors finasteride and dutasteride, in their respective name brands, are traditional methods to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and both require a prescription. However, finasteride does have an FDA-approved indication for hair loss, which dutasteride does not.
Dutasteride is currently approved for the treatment of hair loss in Japan and South Korea, but not in the United States or Europe. Nonetheless, it is often prescribed off-label for the treatment of hair loss.
A 2014 study found oral dutasteride to be more effective than finasteride for the treatment of hair loss. Men were randomly prescribed dutasteride 0.02, 0.1, or 0.5 mg/day, finasteride 1 mg/day, or placebo.
dutasteride 0.5 mg was better than finasteride 1 mg at weeks 12 and 24 at increasing hair count. However, long-term data is needed to confirm these results.
It is important to remember that both finasteride and dutasteride have potential side effects, which can decrease over time. Talk to your healthcare provider before choosing your male pattern baldness treatment.
Potential Side Effects of Dutasteride
Both capsule and topical formulations of dutasteride are available for hairloss treatment. The potential side effects may differ between these formulations of the medication.
Some of the most common side effects of oral dutasteride 0.5mg capsules are:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased libido
- Ejaculation disorders
- Breast disorders
Rare side effects include:
- Chest pain or discomfort
- dilated neck veins
- extreme fatigue
- irregular breathing
- irregular heartbeat
- swelling of the face, fingers, feet, or lower legs
- trouble breathing
- weight gain
Check with your doctor immediately if you experience any of these adverse effects for professional medical advice.
Published research on topical dutasteride has been minimal. More studies and clinical trials need to be done to confirm the potential side effects of topical dutasteride for male pattern baldness. However, they are thought to be similar to those of finasteride, which has shown minor reactions focused on the application site.
Most published clinical trial reports are focused on the superficial injection of dutasteride into the scalp using a mesotherapy approach to treat men with androgenetic alopecia. Results show improved hair counts, reduced hair loss, and improvements in scalp coverage with a good safety profile. [Reguero-Del Cura 2020]
Both oral finasteride and dutasteride have shown to prevent hair loss in men with AGA with efficacy and safety. These treatments have become increasingly more popular at helping promote hair growth. The highest probability of reducing male hair loss has been shown to be dutasteride.
However, dutasteride does have more severe side effects than several of the treatments, including possible loss of sexual drive and sexual dysfunction.
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