What is Topical Finasteride?

Posted on May 21, 2018

Dr. Gabel strives to seek holistic solutions for hair loss patients and incorporates both surgical and non-surgical treatment plans into his practice. No two patients are ever completely identical and every individual must be evaluated on a case by case basis. Dr. Gabel is always careful to evaluate the efficacy of treatment options as they arise and only adopts them for his patients after clinically verified results can be obtained.


Finasteride has been FDA approved as an oral treatment for male pattern baldness (MPB) for over two decades, and its long-term efficacy is still being observed. But there’s little question that a vast majority of men that have used finasteride have benefitted by either having their hair loss halted or the progression of their hair loss pattern severely mitigated.

To date finasteride is recognized as the most effective known DHT inhibitor that is widely available for male patients that seek to combat MPB.

Just the same, there are patients that possess concerns about potential side effects associated with ingesting finasteride orally into the blood stream, and the introduction of finasteride as a topical solution serves as an alternative opportunity to utilize the drug’s benefits against MPB.

What Is Topical Finasteride?

Finasteride is a lipophilic drug and can be readily absorbed by the body through the scalp when compounded with regular solvents. It must be noted that finasteride as a topical solution is not yet FDA approved or studied.

Most of the studies to date have been conducted by private clinics within their practices and there appears to be a lack of uniformity or consensus in the exact methodology for applying the topical solution to a patient’s scalp.

It is hoped that by concentrating the drug directly into the scalp that it will not infiltrate the wider bloodstream with the same potency that it does via oral ingestion. The intention of this practice is to attempt to mitigate sexual side effects associated with finasteride use by a minority of patients. Whether or not topical application can mitigate such side effects is not yet conclusive.

The efficacy of applying finasteride as a topical solution is open to much debate, but the little research data available seems to suggest mixed results as Serum Finasteride levels are reduced by approximately 94% in comparison with orally ingested finasteride. Additionally, Serum DHT levels are reduced to just of 30% compared with 70% for the orally prescribed counterpart.

Ultimately, the application of finasteride in topical form needs to be further studied and verified before it is adopted as a DHT inhibitor with the same confidence and reputation that orally prescribed finasteride has garnered.

What Are The Side Effects?

The side effects are thought to potentially be identical to orally prescribed finasteride, though this is not yet clinically studied. It is hoped that the drug’s topical application can lessen instances of sexual dysfunction in finasteride users but this cannot be guaranteed. There are concerns that the handling of a topical solution by pregnant women could be particularly dangerous for the unborn child as the solution may be absorbed quickly by the mother through the skin.

Oral finasteride is only appropriate for use by male patients due to its adverse effects upon female physiology and in the absence of FDA approval or verifiable studies it should be assumed that topical finasteride requires the same criteria.

Always consult with a physician before beginning any new drug regimen or prescription.

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