Topical Finasteride Safety and Side Effects

What Are Topical Treatments?

You may already know that there are effective hair loss treatments available in tablet form, which are known as oral treatments. 

However, hair loss treatments can also come in topical forms, such as creams, gels and foams.

Topical medicines are applied directly to a specific area, in order to treat a condition in a localised area. 

Until now, oral Finasteride tablets have been the most popular choice for men who are trying to prevent hair loss, as this is a very effective treatment, preventing hair loss for 9 out of 10 guys who use it. 

However, Topical Finasteride treatments are now also available, and these have some distinct advantages which we’ll explain in more detail later.

More Information on Finasteride

Finasteride has been known for years as an effective hair loss treatment for men and is the most popular treatment for hair loss. But why is it so popular?

Male Pattern Baldness (MPB) is the most common form of hair loss experienced by men — it affects about two-thirds of all men by the age of 35, but can begin much earlier than that in some guys.

In most cases, Male Pattern Baldness is caused by a hormone called Dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Over time, DHT molecules cause hair to become thinner and weaker, and this eventually leads to hair loss. 

Finasteride works by reducing the levels of DHT, and this has been proven to help prevent further progression of MPB. For this reason, Finasteride is an extremely popular choice for guys looking to treat their hair loss. 

Is Finasteride Safe?

Firstly, it’s important to point out that rigorous testing has been carried out on Finasteride, across multiple studies which have shown that it is a safe, effective treatment for hair loss. 

However, some guys do experience side effects after they start using Finasteride, and we’ll go into more detail about that here.

Many medicines have side effects associated with them, and these can, unfortunately, lead many people to end their treatment early, therefore not getting the full benefits of the treatment. 

That’s why it’s important to know about these before you begin. 

Sexual Side Effects

Some men using oral Finasteride tablets experience sexual side effects. A 2012 collection of studies showed that “sexual adverse effects occur at the rates of 2.1% to 3.8%” with oral Finasteride use, meaning roughly 1 in 20 men experience these. 

Erectile dysfunction is the most common of these symptoms, followed by ejaculatory dysfunction and loss of libido. It’s important to remember that these effects are temporary, as the same paper, titled ‘Finasteride and sexual side effects’, points out: “Even in those cases where side effects were reported, the changes were found to be reversible.”

Rashes and Swelling

After taking oral Finasteride, some men have reported experiencing side effects such as redness of the skin, skin rashes, and bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet. 

These are less common side effects, however this can still understandably be very upsetting for men taking oral Finasteride.

Mental Health

In some very rare cases, men who have taken oral Finasteride have reported having feelings of anxiety and depression. 

However, it’s important to point out that these side effects have not been studied widely, and it is not clear whether or not this is directly linked to oral Finasteride.

It’s also important for us to point out over 96% of men who take oral Finasteride tablets report no side effects, so please bear this in mind when reading information about the risks involved.

If You are Experiencing Any Side Effects

If you experience any side effects after taking oral Finasteride, don’t panic, as these symptoms may well be temporary, and could last for only a few days, but if they persist for longer than a couple of weeks, you should seek advice from your GP.

Official government advice states that people should stop taking Finasteride “immediately if they develop depression and inform a healthcare professional”.

Why Many Men Prefer Topical Finasteride

As mentioned above, the side effects some men experience after taking Finasteride tablets often lead them to stop their treatment early, and in some cases, guys end up staying clear of the treatment altogether as they are anxious about these symptoms.

However, there is evidence that men who use Topical Finasteride generally don’t experience these unpleasant side effects. One study, conducted in 2016, observed the side effects of Topical Finasteride compared with oral Finasteride, when given to patients aged 18-40 years. 

The results of the study show that only 2 out of 52 patients given the topical treatment complained of a “mild burning sensation on the skin (compared to 3 patients who took oral Finasteride), while no patients who used Topical Finasteride complained of any sexual side effects at all.

In addition, Topical Finasteride has been proven to be as effective as oral Finasteride tablets at treating Male Pattern Baldness ⁠— we’ve included details of some of the studies that show this below.

How Effective is Topical Finasteride?

Multiple studies have proven that Topical Finasteride is a highly effective hair loss treatment. 

One study comparing the effectiveness of finasteride gel against tablet treatments, conducted in 2009, showed that “the therapeutic effects of both Finasteride gel and Finasteride tablet were relatively similar to each other”. 

In both groups of patients, those who took Finasteride tablets, and those who used Topical Finasteride, hair loss was reduced.

Studies like these are very encouraging for guys who are looking to treat their hair loss, especially since there are also reasons to believe that Topical Finasteride doesn’t carry the same risk of side effects.

Who Should be Taking Topical Finasteride?

Topical Finasteride is for men aged 18 and over who are experiencing Male Pattern Baldness. The treatment is highly effective at preventing hair loss and promoting hair regrowth for up to 90% of guys.

The treatment is also a good option for guys who are anxious about taking Finasteride in tablet form, as Topical Finasteride does not have the same risk of side effects as oral Finasteride tablets.

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This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. The information contained herein is not a substitute for and should never be relied upon for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment or medication.