Finasteride is an effective, FDA-approved medication that reduces DHT and treats male pattern baldness.
If you’ve noticed your hairline receding or the hair on your scalp thinning, you may have thought about using finasteride to stop your hair loss and retain the hair you still have.
Currently, finasteride is only available in the United States with a prescription. However, getting a prescription for finasteride is a relatively simple process if you already have visible symptoms of hair loss.
Below, we’ve explained how finasteride works and how you can purchase it. We’ve also looked at other treatments for hair loss that are available over the counter, many of which can be used alongside finasteride for better results.
Finasteride works by reducing levels of dihydrotestosterone, or DHT, an androgen hormone that causes male pattern baldness.
More specifically, finasteride treats male pattern baldness by inhibiting the effects of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme, which is responsible for converting testosterone into DHT.
In people genetically predisposed to hair loss, DHT can damage the hair follicles and stop them from growing new hairs. Over time, this can cause everything from a mild M-shaped hairline to significant levels of hair loss that affect almost all of your scalp.
Our guide to DHT and hair loss goes into more detail on how DHT can affect your hair follicles and contribute to male pattern baldness.
By lowering DHT levels throughout your body, finasteride may reduce or prevent damage to your hair follicles. This helps to slow down, prevent or reverse any hair loss caused by male pattern baldness.
No. Currently, finasteride is not available over the counter in the United States. In order to buy and use finasteride, you’ll need to have a valid prescription from your healthcare provider.
Rules and regulations regarding medications can vary from country to country. If you’re located outside the United States, you can check your country’s medication regulations to find out what restrictions apply to finasteride in your area.
Since finasteride requires a prescription, you’ll need to see a healthcare provider before you can legally purchase and use it. Luckily, this process isn’t complicated or expensive.
If you’ve noticed symptoms of male pattern baldness and want to start using finasteride, there are several ways that you can receive a prescription:
Finasteride is an easy medication to use. To prevent hair loss, all you’ll need to do is take one tablet per day, ideally at approximately the same time every day.
Finasteride starts reducing DHT levels as soon as it’s absorbed by your body. However, it may take three months or longer before you notice any changes in your hair count, hair thickness or other aspects of your hair health.
After one year, you should see an improvement from finasteride. If you can’t see any change in your hair after one year, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our finasteride results timeline goes into more detail about the changes in your hair you should see from finasteride over the course of several months and years.
It’s important to keep using finasteride even if you don’t notice any improvements during the first few months. If you stop using finasteride, your DHT levels will return to normal and any hair loss you previously experienced may continue.
Although finasteride requires a prescription, several treatments for hair loss are available over the counter. Many of these are supported by scientific evidence and can be used at the same time as finasteride for improved results.
Over-the-counter treatments for hair loss include:
Currently, finasteride isn’t available over the counter in the United States. However, if you have visible symptoms of male pattern baldness, getting a prescription for finasteride is generally an easy, inexpensive process.
To receive a prescription for finasteride, you can talk to your local healthcare provider, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist or talk to a licensed healthcare provider online.
Other hair loss treatments, such as minoxidil, hair loss prevention shampoo and biotin can all be purchased over the counter. Used with finasteride, these may improve your results and help you to get your hair loss under control.
Hair loss from male pattern baldness is extremely common, with data showing that 16 percent of men aged 18 to 29 and 53 percent of men aged 40 to 49 have moderate to extensive levels of hair loss.
Luckily, the days of hair loss being an untreatable condition are long gone. Our guide to male pattern baldness explains how and why male hair loss happens, as well as the science-based treatments that are available to help you slow down, stop or reverse your hair loss.