Dutasteride And Hair Loss: How It Works And Side Effects

by Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Hair loss is common in both men and women. It has a psychological effect, too, as strong and healthy hair is associated with high self-esteem. While there seem to be many treatment options for hair loss, one that is getting popular lately is dutasteride (1). Some claim dutasteride is effective in treating hair loss. But is it? How does it work? Does it cause any side effects? We will explore these questions in this post.

What Is Dutasteride?

Dutasteride is a common medication used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (2). It helps prevent the enlargement of the prostate gland. Dutasteride is also used for treating hair loss. It works by preventing the conversion of testosterone to DHT (or dihydrotestosterone). It is not available over the counter and can be obtained only with a doctor’s prescription. You get it in the form of a liquid-filled capsule.

Though dutasteride may help prevent hair loss, it has some risks. We have listed them in the next section. Most of these risks are based on anecdotal evidence.

Risks Associated With Dutasteride

  • Allergies: Dutasteride may cause allergies in some individuals. Practice caution if you have a history of allergies. Discuss with your doctor.
  • Pediatric: Dutasteride is not meant for children. It has not been tested on this age group for efficacy.
  • Elderly: There is not enough evidence to suggest that dutasteride could be safe for the elderly. Consult doctor.
  • Pregnant Or Breastfeeding: Evidence suggesting the safety of dutasteride in pregnant or breastfeeding women is lacking. Stay safe and avoid use.
  • Drug Reactions: Dutasteride may interact with certain drugs. Discuss your existing medications with your doctor. They may reduce or change the dose accordingly. Certain medications Dutasteride may interfere with include Cimetidine, Ciprofloxacin, Diltiazem, Ketoconazole, Ritonavir, and Verapamil (2).
  • Other Interactions: Dutasteride may also interfere with certain meals or types of food. Using it with alcohol or tobacco may cause adverse effects. Consult your doctor for more information.
  • Specific Medical Problems: Those with ailments like liver disease must be wary while using dutasteride. More research is warranted in this regard. Talk to your doctor before taking the medication.

Some individuals also claim to have experienced breathing difficulty, chest discomfort, dilated neck veins, weight gain, excessive fatigue, difficulty swallowing, flaking or blistering of the skin, itchiness, and rapid heartbeat. Rarely, dutasteride is also believed to cause sexual dysfunction.

How Should You Use Dutasteride?

Dutasteride should be used as directed by a healthcare professional. You should follow the frequency, dosage, and duration as directed.

  • You may take it with or without.
  • You must swallow the capsule and not crush or chew it.
  • Check the patient information leaflet before taking the medication. Read all the instructions and get all your doubts clarified by your doctor.

In the next section, we will find out how dutasteride helps with hair regrowth.

How Does Dutasteride Help Regrow Hair?

Each hair strand goes through four stages of the growth cycle, namely anagen (or growth phase), catagen (or regression phase), telogen (or the resting phase), and exogen (or the shedding phase).

Androgenetic alopecia or AGA occurs during the anagen phase. The anagen phase becomes shorter, leading to hair follicle miniaturization. AGA is caused due to the conversion of testosterone to DHT, a process triggered by the 5-alpha-reductase enzyme. Dutasteride inhibits this enzyme and may help prevent hair loss (3). In a study, varied hair regrowth was observed in patients treated with dutasteride. However, dutasteride does not offer a guarantee for hair regrowth. Its results vary between individuals (4).

Dutasteride is often compared with finasteride, which is another medication popular for treating hair loss. But which of the two is more effective?

Finasteride Vs. Dutasteride For Hair Loss

In a study, both finasteride and dutasteride were used on patients with androgenetic alopecia (5). It was found that 30% to 50% of patients with androgenetic alopecia did not show any significant improvement with finasteride. However, 78% of the patients showed improvement with dutasteride, while the remaining showed no significant change. The improved lot also observed an increase in their hair thickness and density by 10% (5).

The study concludes by stating that dutasteride can be used as an alternative treatment for patients who have not responded to treatment with finasteride.

In yet another study, dutasteride was more effective than finasteride for controlling hair loss (1). However, both showed similar rates of adverse reactions in sexual dysfunction.

How Long Does Dutasteride Take To Work For Hair Loss?

Dutasteride may take three months to six months or even longer to show results. This duration depends on the severity of hair loss and the patient’s preexisting health condition. Keep your healthcare professional updated about how you are feeling during treatment.

Final Words

Dutasteride could be effective in treating hair loss. In some cases, it also could promote hair regrowth. However, it has potential adverse effects. Do not take the medication unless prescribed by your doctor. Keep in mind that the medication may also interact with any other drugs you may be taking. Should you experience any adverse effects, stop use and consult your doctor.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

What should you discuss with your doctor before starting dutasteride?

These are the points you must discuss with your doctor before starting dutasteride for hair loss:
Complete details about your past medical and surgical history.
All current prescription and non-prescription medications.
Any allergies.

What precautions should you follow while/after taking dutasteride?

Take the following precautions while/after taking dutasteride:
Avoid blood donation for at least six months after stopping dutasteride. This medicine stays in your bloodstream
for around 4 to 6 months after discontinuation.
Never have sexual intercourse without using protection. Dutasteride was found in the semen of patients who were
on it.

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Ravi Teja Tadimalla

Ravi Teja Tadimalla is an editor and a published author. He graduated from SRM University, Chennai, and has been in the digital media field for over six years. He has a Professional Certificate in Food, Nutrition & Research from Wageningen University. He considers himself a sculptor born to chip away at content and reveal its dormant splendor. He started his career as a research writer, primarily focusing on health and wellness, and has over 250 articles to his credit. Ravi believes in the great possibilities of abundant health with natural foods and organic supplements. Reading and theater are his other interests.
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