What Finasteride Does
Finasteride, the generic name of the active ingredient in Propecia, is used to treat male pattern hair loss.
Finasteride comes in a pill that is taken every day by mouth. It is a type II 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, which means it prevents regular testosterone from being converted into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is associated with male pattern baldness. When taken consistently and for long enough, it can slow, stop, or even reverse hair loss. Finasteride isn’t exactly cheap, so most men want to do what they can to get the best results from the drug. Here are some tips for taking finasteride for maximum effectiveness.
Take Finasteride Consistently
Take finasteride exactly as directed by your physician. You have to take it consistently for several weeks or months to know if it is working and how well it works for you. Finasteride leaves the body quickly, so even if you stop the treatment briefly, you can lose hair that you re-grew while on it, as well as the hair you would have lost had you not been taking it.
Take Finasteride Long Enough Before Deciding Whether It Works for You
Most men can tell within three months if finasteride is working for them. However, physicians usually recommend that men stick with the treatment longer — six months to a year — to be certain of its effectiveness. If you’ve been taking finasteride for six weeks and haven’t noticed a difference, you may not have given it enough time yet. Keep in mind that you see yourself every day in the mirror, and gradual growth that may not be obvious to you may be much more noticeable to those who haven’t seen you for a while.
Consider Using Finasteride and Minoxidil
Minoxidil, a different hair loss treatment, is applied topically, and works differently than finasteride. Minoxidil is better suited to hair that recedes along the sides of a widow’s peak, and how it promotes hair re-growth is not well understood. Some physicians suggest using both minoxidil and finasteride to tackle hair loss in two ways. Minoxidil can be purchased over the counter. Be sure to follow the package directions exactly.
Consider Using Finasteride and Nizoral Shampoo
Non-prescription Nizoral is a shampoo that contains ketoconazole, and when they use it along with Propecia, some men see better results. A study published in the Journal of Dermatology in 2002 found the combination of ketoconazole shampoo and Propecia to be promising, though not much further study has been done. As with minoxidil, be sure to follow package directions with ketoconazole shampoo.
Take Good Care of Your Body and Mind
Give your body the building blocks it needs for health and you give it a better chance to respond to the medications you take. Eat a balanced diet that includes lean protein like fish, plus other protein sources like eggs and beans, and be sure to eat enough dark leafy green vegetables. Some men have found that using non-prescription gel containing azelaic acid (commonly used to treat acne and rosacea) on the scalp along with finasteride improves results, though scientific studies on the combination have not been done.
If you use any topical products on your scalp in addition to finasteride, follow directions and discontinue use if you notice irritation. Don’t use more than one topical product on your scalp without consulting your physician first.
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