Did you know that half of the men worldwide experience hair loss by age 50? About 25% of bald men see the first signs of hair loss before turning 21. And about 70% of men lose their hair as they get older. However, modern science is constantly trying to find solutions due to its advancements. There are two popular medicines, Finasteride and Minoxidil, available in the market for hair loss.
Finasteride belongs to the 5-alpha-reductase inhibitors class of drugs. In comparison, Minoxidil belongs to the antihypertensive vasodilator class of drugs. The US FDA approved Finasteride for male pattern hair loss in 1997.
Only the liquid form of Minoxidil is used to treat hair loss (the active ingredient in the brand Rogaine). Minoxidil (5% w/v) was approved by the FDA for androgenetic alopecia (AKA male-pattern baldness) in 1988 and later in 1992 for female-pattern hair loss (2% w/v).
Finasteride is only authorised for men 18 years of age and older. It is not indicated for use in women or children. Minoxidil is approved for people 18 years of age or older. People aged 65 are usually not given this medicine.
Availability and Cost
Finasteride is a prescription-only medicine readily available at local and online pharmacies. In the US, 5 mg of finasteride costs around $12, with 30 tablets. While in the UK, the cost of 28 tablets for the same strength is £4.26. Minoxidil is an over-the-counter medicine readily available at local and online pharmacies. In the US, Minoxidil topical 5% solution of 60 grams ranges from $15 to $20. Depending on the pharmacy of your choice, the prices may vary. While in the UK the cost is about £20.
They Are Prescription Or OTC
Finasteride is a prescription-only medication, while Minoxidil is available without a prescription over-the-counter. Both these medications are very readily available at local and online pharmacies.
Form and Dosage
Finasteride comes in the form of tablets only. This medication comes in 2 strengths- 1 mg and 5 mg. The recommended daily dose for hair loss is 1 mg. Minoxidil tablets are not approved for the treatment of hair loss. The liquid solution (sold under the brand name Rogaine) is approved for hair loss. A topical solution is available in a 2% and 5% strength. The topical foam comes in 5% strength. It is advised to apply the medication to the hair once or twice a day.
Can Finasteride and Minoxidil Regrow Hair?
Finasteride works by inhibiting testosterone conversion to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This medication may not drastically change your hair’s growth and quality; however, many people have noticed good hair regrowth after this medication.
Minoxidil (Rogaine) works by increasing the blood flow to the hair follicles. This results in an increased follicular size and hair shaft diameter that helps stimulate hair growth. This medication is best used when early signs of hair loss or a receding hairline occur. Both these medications stop hair loss and promote hair regrowth. However, not all who use it can see the same results.
How to Take Them?
You must follow your doctor’s advice when using Finasteride. Your doctor will prescribe you a dosage suitable for you. Finasteride is typically taken with or without food. It usually takes three months for the medication to work- but it can take longer and varies from person to person. It would be best to follow the directions mentioned in the information leaflet on the medicine. If you are questions or are concerned about your medication, you should speak with your healthcare provider.
For Minoxidil, apply the amount mentioned in the information guide or as prescribed by your doctor on a dry scalp. Allow the medication to dry for 2 to 4 hours. Avoid watching your hair with a shampoo for 4 hours after using Minoxidil.
Finasteride vs Minoxidil: Possible Side Effects
Let’s look at some of the side effects reported in the prescribing information for Finasteride and Minoxidil.
Rash and Swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, or throat
These may be signs of an allergic reaction. Call your healthcare provider or get emergency help if you have these symptoms.
- Erectile dysfunction
- Ejaculation disorders
- Breast enlargement or tenderness
Rash and Swelling of the face, mouth, tongue, or throat
- These may be signs of an allergic reaction. Call your healthcare provider or get emergency help if you have these symptoms.
- Skin irritation, redness, or itch
- Weight gain
This article does not mention all side effects caused when using Finasteride and Minoxidil. It is advised to see a doctor if you have any adverse signs or symptoms.
Which Is More Effective?
Let’s look at the study conducted at the Department of Dermatology in Gulhane Military Medical Academy, Turkey, for further clarification.
It was an open, randomised, comparative study of oral Finasteride and 5% topical minoxidil in male-pattern baldness. The study evaluated the efficacy and safety of these two medicines for one year in 65 male patients suffering from mild male-pattern baldness.
The study showed a clinical cure rate of 80% for the oral finasteride group and 52% for the 5% topical minoxidil group. As per this study, Finasteride is proven to be much more effective than Minoxidil.
Difference Between Finasteride and Minoxidil
- Oral tablets are used for the treatment of hair loss.
- It can only be used by men 18 years of age or older.
- It also treats BPH in men with an enlarged prostate.
- It is a prescription-only medication.
- Topical solutions or foam are used for the treatment of hair loss.
- It can be used by men and women 18 years or older.
- It also treats high blood pressure.
- It is available over-the-counter.
Similarities Between Finasteride and Minoxidil
The following are some similarities between Finasteride and Minoxidil:
- Both these medications are used to treat hair loss.
- Finasteride and Minoxidil are both approved by the FDA for treating hair loss.
- Both are readily available to be purchased from local or online pharmacies.
If you have to choose between these two drugs, consider that Finasteride is a prescription-only medication.
On the other hand, Minoxidil is available for over-the-counter use. While Finasteride is cheaper, you still have to shell out the prescription cost. Overall, If we have to take our pick, we suggest Finasteride over Minoxidil.