Topical finasteride

Topical finasteride

Finasteride is a medicine used to treat male pattern baldness. In most Western countries, it is available on a doctors prescription under the brand names Proscar and Propecia. It is a drug called a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor. An impossible term that simply means it blocks the change of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT). This is important because DHT is the culprit of hair loss. It attacks the hair follicles, causing them to shrink and produce thinner and thinner hairs until they eventually disappear altogether. The less this happens, the better.

Finasteride is a controversial hair loss drug, as the side effects are not mild. After all, getting back a fuller head of hair, on the off chance that it could cause erectile dysfunction and lowered libido, is a tough trade-off. That there are even known cases of depression makes it an even more difficult choice. However, this does not mean that taking finasteride is guaranteed to lead to these unpleasant side effects. Rates vary in different studies, but are seen in up to 10% of all cases. You can also find plenty of websites and forums that downplay, question or even deny the existence of these side effects. Just because there is no single answer about side effects from the scientific literature does not mean it should not be taken seriously. It is a fact that there are men who experience side effects when taking finasteride.

Oral finasteride (tablets)

In most countries, finasteride is available only on prescription. Doctors are generally reluctant to prescribe it. Should you not manage to convince your doctor to prescribe finasteride, there are online options to get it. However, this is not recommended. It carries the risk of not knowing exactly what you are getting. There is also a big market online for scammers and rogue online shops that will accept your money but will not deliver anything. Further, then, the big disadvantage of taking finasteride is the risk of side effects. The side effects associated with using finasteride are:

• erectile dysfunction,
• reduced libido,
• depression,
• breast formation

For many men, these are all good reasons not to take it. So if there is a variant of this drug that can be used where these side effects will not crop up, that is worth a look. What about topical finasteride?

Topical finasteride

Finasteride can also be incorporated into a serum. Then it is called topical finasteride. Does this also produce good results against hair loss? One study compared oral finasteride, topical finasteride lotion and a placebo over a 24-week period. Oral finasteride showed the best results regarding hair growth, but topical finasteride also showed positive results.

The lines in the graph show the reduction of DHT in the blood of the study participants. Since DHT is the culprit of hereditary hair loss, the reduction is positive. So the fact that direct application to the scalp also leads to a reduction in DHT is a positive result.

chart efectiveness topical finasteride

Research takes a long time and positive result in 1 study does not say everything. As yet, there is no miracle cure for hair loss on the market. However, applying finasteride lotion to the scalp bypasses the problem of it being absorbed into the bloodstream.

View the study here: Efficacy and safety of topical finasteride spray solution for male androgenetic alopecia: a phase III, randomised, controlled clinical trial


The main difference between oral finasteride and topical finasteride is the way they are administered. Oral finasteride is taken in pill form by mouth, while topical finasteride lotion is applied directly to the scalp. This means that topical finasteride has a more targeted effect on the hair follicles, while oral finasteride is absorbed into the bloodstream and can affect the whole body. Moreover, because topical finasteride is not absorbed into the bloodstream, it is not associated with the same potential side effects as oral finasteride. However, it has not been as extensively studied or used as finasteride in pill form.

A few studies have shown tentative positive results. More research is needed to give a clearer answer about the effectiveness of topical finasteride. Also whether the side effects are less when using topical finasteride compared to oral finasteride. Added to this, topical finasteride lotion is not available in the most countries. It has so far been approved for use only in India. Should you want to order it online, it will most likely come from India. It will take some time before it is available your country. Where the drug must then comply with local legislation. For now, we therefore advise caution in using it in this form and advise against looking for it here.