Dutasteride and Hair Loss — Everything You Need To Know
Dutasteride is a medication that can be prescribed to men suffering from male pattern hair loss (androgenic alopecia). It helps to prevent hair loss by reducing the level of dihydrotestosterone (DHT) a hormone that is pivotal in causing androgenic alopecia.
What is Dutasteride?
Dutasteride is a synthetic compound which works to prevent conversion of the male sex hormone, testosterone, to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). It is licensed to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia in men that have developed an enlarged prostate. In such men, Dutasteride works to improve the flow of urine, and thus, reducing the need for a subsequent surgery. Due to Dutasteride lowering the level of DHT, it can also be used to treat male pattern hair loss.
Hair loss can lower self confidence and limit physical appearance. And unfortunately, it occurs in a large number of people. In the United States alone, there’s an estimated 80 million people suffering from androgenic alopecia. Depending on the type of hair loss, symptoms can range from a receding hairline, to a thinning hair (especially in women), and loss of small patches of hair on the scalp.
There are numerous types of hair loss, but the most common ones are:
- Androgenic alopecia
Also known as male-pattern baldness, androgenic alopecia, is the most common form of hair loss in men. It also occurs in women. It affects up to 50% of males and females. Although hair loss follows a unique distribution in both sexes. In males, hair loss is mostly seen in the hairline, temples and crown regions, while in females, hair loss is seen at the crown and top of head.
- Alopecia areata
In this form of hair loss, it is the body’s own immune system that attacks hair follicles and causes hair loss. It is considered an autoimmune condition. Although hair loss can affect any part of the body, it is most prominent on the head and face. Alopecia areata can affect both men and women equally. And it affects mostly people that are in their twenties and thirties.
- Telogen effluvium
This form of hair loss is one of the common causes of temporary hair loss. It occurs due to excessive shedding of hair follicles that are at the telogen or resting phase. It is usually caused by several factors like severe emotional or physiological stress and use of certain medications.
How is hair loss treated?
Depending on the cause and extent of the hair loss, treatments can range from behavioural and lifestyle changes, to medications, and advanced procedures like hair transplant surgery.
- Lifestyle changes
Upon examination, if lifestyle behaviours are the source of your hair loss, the doctor would recommend making immediate changes to address them. These kind of changes might include adopting a better nutrient-rich diet, avoiding harmful habits like smoking and alcohol, and managing stress.
- Platelet-rich plasma
This is a form of advanced treatment that involves drawing out some quantity of your blood, concentrating the plasma, and then injecting this platelet-rich plasma into the scalp to accelerate hair growth and prevent hair loss.
- Hair transplant
Hair transplants are effective in treating permanent hair loss conditions. They involve extracting hair follicles from the back or sides of the scalp, and transplanting them into areas affected by hair loss.
Medications are the most common form of hair loss treatment. There are numerous medications that can improve hair growth and prevent hair loss. Some of these drugs include minoxidil or Regaine, and Finasteride (Propecia). Another commonly used drug is the Dutasteride. However, it is yet to get approval from the FDA. As such, Doctors prescribe it as an off-label medication.
Can Dutasteride prevent hair loss?
As a potent 5AR 5-alpha reductase enzyme inhibitor, Dutasteride works by preventing the conversion of testosterone into DHT, which is the key hormone that drives hair loss in androgenic alopecia. It is currently not licensed for use by the FDA or MHRA. But in other countries like Japan and South Korea, Dutasteride has been approved for the treatment of male androgenetic alopecia.
When Dutasteride blocks the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, it prevents the formation of DHT. DHT affects the hair growth cycle, miniaturising the hair, causing it to shorten and shrink, and eventually fall out. By preventing this process, Dutasteride can effectively prevent further hair loss.
Researching Dutasteride and Hair Loss
- In a study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging Journal, Dutasteride was found to be more effective than FDA-approved finasteride in the treatment of hair loss in men with androgenetic alopecia.
- Another study, this time around, published in the Indian Journal of Dermatology, Venereology and Leprology, further proved the efficacy of dutasteride over finasteride in the treatment of androgenic alopecia. Men who consumed dutasteride showed a higher total hair count per cm2 than those who took finasteride.
- Another study published as far back as 2010 in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, intake of 0.5 mg of dutasteride daily for 6 months in male patients suffering from androgenic alopecia was able to increase hair count by up to 12.2/cm2 — an amount that was more than double the change seen in the placebo group. The study further concluded that intake of 0.5 mg of dutasteride daily can improve hair growth. Such intake was also found to be well tolerated by patients of male androgenic alopecia.
Dutasteride Dosage For Hair Loss
Dutasteride is commonly prescribed at a dose of 0.5mg once a day.
Does Dutasteride Have Side Effects?
USome of the most common side effects associated with Dutasteride include:
- Reduction of sexual potency
- Ejaculation disorder that’s characterised by decrease in the amount of semen released during sexual activity
- Testicular pain and swellings
- Increased breast size and tenderness
- Reduced sex drive or libido
Is Dutasteride the best option for hair loss treatment?
Dutasteride is an effective medication that is used to prevent hair loss and improve its growth. However, a balanced decision needs to be made between the side effects Dutasteride can give over the potential side effects of other drugs like finasteride. Patients ought to discuss with their healthcare professional to decide on the most suitable treatment option.
Hair loss affects a significant number of people. One of the most common methods of treating hair loss is the use of medications. These medications include Finasteride and Dutasteride — both have been shown by research to prevent hair loss.
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