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Finasteride (Generic Propecia, Proscar) treats male pattern baldness and thinning hair at the crown of the head and middle of the scalp. It is a 5-alpha-reductase inhibitor that is also prescribed for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH, or enlarged prostate).
What is finasteride used for?
Finasteride treats male baldness along the middle of the scalp and the crown of the head, which is often inherited and the most common reason for hair loss in men. It can also treat symptoms of BPH (enlarged prostate gland), including frequent urination or difficulty urinating. Finasteride is only prescribed for men. Women should avoid handling the drug as exposure may cause birth defects if the woman is pregnant.
Finasteride requires a prescription. You can get a prescription for finasteride (Generic Propecia) at Blink Health, including online doctor visit and refills. All generic medications sold through Blink Health Pharmacy are FDA-approved.
How does finasteride work?
Finasteride blocks 5-alpha-reductase enzymes, which convert testosterone into DHT (dihydrotestosterone). DHT damages hair follicles and can lead to thinning hair or hair loss. By blocking testosterone conversion at the source, finasteride can slow or stop hair loss, and may help with hair regrowth. DHT can also cause prostate enlargement, so blocking it can reduce symptoms of BPH.
If you're taking finasteride for baldness you may not see results for three to 12 months. Continue taking this medication to slow or reverse hair loss. If you stop taking finasteride you will likely lose any hair regrowth you experienced and see hair loss again within 12 months.
Finasteride can help control BPH symptoms, but is not a cure. It may take six months for BPH symptoms to improve using this medication.
Most common side effects of finasteride
Finasteride may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if you experience any of these side effects, especially if they are severe or persistent:
Inability to get or maintain an erection (erectile dysfunction)
Decreased sexual desire
Other serious side effects are possible. Talk to your doctor immediately if you experience:
Breast lumps, pain, or increased size
Rash, itching, or hives
Face and lip swelling
Difficulty swallowing or breathing
This is not a complete list of all side effects. Contact your doctor if you notice other side effects when on this medication.
Finasteride can increase the chances of developing a serious form of prostate cancer, so talk to your doctor about your risks.
Women, especially those who are breastfeeding, pregnant, or may become pregnant, should not take or handle finasteride.
Finasteride dosage information
Finasteride is available in two doses:
1 mg tablets for baldness (Propecia)
5 mg tablets for BPH symptoms (Proscar)
Take finasteride by mouth, usually once a day, or as prescribed by your doctor. It works best if you take it at the same time each day, and can be taken with or without food. Follow the instructions on your prescription label and talk to your doctor or your pharmacist if you have questions. Do not adjust your dosage or stop taking finasteride without talking to your doctor.
What Causes Male Pattern Baldness?
Sometimes it’s due to hormones, but for the most part, it comes down to genetics. Ninety-five percent of male hair loss is caused by a condition called androgenetic alopecia. Read more.
Should I Use Finasteride, Minoxidil, or Both?
Losing excessive amounts of hair can be stressful, and if you’re in a period where you’re continuing to lose hair even while on minoxidil, you may want to also get a prescription for finasteride. Read more.
Can Women Use Finasteride to Treat Hair Loss?
Finasteride was found ineffective when used by women, according to research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. Read more.
How to use finasteride
Be sure to read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start taking finasteride, and every time you get a refill. If you have any questions about how to take finasteride, how it works, or possible side effects, talk to your clinician or pharmacist.
You should take finasteride by mouth, usually once per day, with or without food, or as directed by your licensed medical professional.
This drug should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant, if the tablet is crushed or broken (see the Warnings & Precautions section).
To get the most benefit from finasteride, use it regularly, and note that it may take up to three months before you notice a benefit. Remember to take it at the same time each day.
To maintain your hair growth, you need to continue taking this drug. When you stop taking finasteride, any gain in hair quantity will generally be lost within one year.
Inform your licensed medical professional if your condition persists or gets worse.
Finasteride Side Effects
It's important to be aware of possible side effects before you start taking a medication.
Here are the listed side effects for finasteride:
Decreased sexual ability/desire may occur. In some men, this medication can decrease the amount of semen released during sex. This is harmless, but has continued in some men even after stopping treatment. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: lump in the breast, nipple discharge, breast enlargement/tenderness/pain, pain in the testicles, inability to urinate.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
It's also important to be aware of precautions and warnings around taking this medication.
Before taking finasteride, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: liver disease, prostate cancer, infections, urinary problems.
Finasteride should not be used in children.
The drug can be absorbed through the skin. If the film coating of the tablet has been broken or the tablet crushed, it should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Exposing a developing male infant to finasteride can result in abnormalities of the genitals.
This medication should not be used in women, especially during pregnancy or breast-feeding. It may harm an unborn or breast-feeding baby. Consult your doctor if you have any questions about this medication.
Finasteride Pill Storage
You should store your finasteride at room temperature, between 59-86 degrees F (15-30 degrees C). Store it in a tightly closed container, away from moisture and light. Do not store finasteride in the bathroom. Keep finasteride (and all medications) away from children and pets.
Don't flush finasteride or other medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. When your finasteride has expired or is no longer needed, be sure to discard it properly. Your pharmacist or local waste disposal company can tell you how.
Finasteride Drug Interactions
Your healthcare professionals (e.g., clinician or pharmacist) may already be aware of any possible drug interactions between finasteride and other medications or products you use, and may be monitoring you for it. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of finasteride or any medicine before checking with them first.
Before you start taking this drug, tell your clinician and pharmacist about all prescription and nonprescription medications, and any herbal products, you may use.
Finasteride can affect the results of the blood test used to detect prostate cancer (prostatic-specific antigen or PSA levels). If you have a PSA test done, tell laboratory personnel and your clinicians that you use this drug.
This document doesn't contain all possible interactions. Therefore, before using this product, be sure to tell your clinician and pharmacist of all the products you use. It's a good idea to keep a list of all your medications and herbal products with you, and share the list with your clinician and pharmacist.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
If you miss a dose of finasteride, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. You should not double your dose to “catch up.”
Do not share finasteride or other drugs with others.
Follow your licensed medical professional's instructions for examining your breasts and testicles, and report any lumps immediately
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