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At LloydsPharmacy, we have worked with our Online Doctor Hair Clinic service on a combination hair loss therapy programme for men, which could be beneficial for men living with male pattern baldness. By combining the daily medication of finasteride together with minoxidil scalp treatment, there is a greater chance that the effects of male pattern baldness can be prevented and, in some cases, show signs of reversal.
If you are seeking treatment for male pattern baldness, it can be difficult to decide which remedies can work for you. There are so many online and over-the-counter foams, lotions, shampoos and supplements, as well as prescription medications – so we understand that it’s hard to know what could help with your hair loss. Find out more about combination therapy for men and speak to one of our online doctors to see if it could work for you.
What is combination therapy for hair loss?
Combining finasteride and minoxidil to form the basis of your treatment course is often effective. It is safe to use the two alongside each other, as well as with caffeine shampoo, for increased chance of results. It works best in the early stages of male pattern baldness, for men aged between 18 and 40.
How do finasteride and minoxidil work together for hair loss?
To understand how finasteride and minoxidil can work together, it is good to first know what causes hereditary male pattern baldness. It is a result of genetic factors and a male hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). DHT causes scalp hair loss by inducing a change in the hair follicles on the scalp. The hairs produced by the affected follicles become progressively smaller in diameter, shorter in length and lighter in colour, leading to thinning, receding hairlines and baldness.
Finasteride works by combating the effects of DHT on the follicles. In this sense, it is a “DHT blocker”; though it is not referred to by this name amongst medical professionals. Finasteride does not provide a permanent cure for male baldness, so if you stop taking it, hair loss will resume. The ingredients do not interfere with minoxidil and so they can work together.
Minoxidil, the active ingredient in Regaine for Men, works by stimulating the shrunken hair follicles. By helping increase the blood flow to your scalp, it helps follicles to increase in size and diameter. In turn, it reinvigorates the hair growth cycle, as well as promoting thicker hair. Minoxidil 2% solution is usually applied twice a day though this can be increased (for men only) to a twice daily application of 1 ml minoxidil 5% solution.
What could a typical day of combination hair loss therapy look like?
As everyone is different, your combination hair loss therapy programme may vary. Here’s an example of what a typical day of combination therapy could look like. Get in touch with one of our Online Doctors for professional advice, where you can complete an online assessment and order the appropriate products today.
- Finasteride (also branded as Propecia)
- Minoxidil (also branded as Regaine for Men)
- An optional caffeine shampoo or hair supplements to naturally support hair health
1mg tablet taken orally once a day, with improvement usually seen at 3-6 months
A 2% minoxidil foam applied to the scalp twice a day, with improvements usually seen at 2 months
Are finasteride and Propecia the same thing?
Yes, Propecia is the branded version of generic finasteride. They have the same effects on hair loss, as well as the same side effects. As finasteride is not branded it is generally a more cost-effective option for the same medication.
What other treatments or remedies can I use for hair loss?
Using an additional hair growth booster like caffeine shampoo or hair supplements can further complement this treatment by offering optimum levels of hair regrowth.
Alpecin shampoo is a caffeine based treatment, with additional zinc, vitamin A and niacin. There are several small research papers showing some effectiveness in improving hair strength and increasing activity in hair roots after a few months of regular use.
Viviscal also offers shampoo, conditioner, hair elixir and oral supplements. The Viviscal Man tablets contain the exclusive marine complex AminoMar® - a rich compound of marine extracts. Plus zinc, vitamin C, horsetail extract and flax seed, to nourish hair from within.
Side effects of finasteride (and Propecia) are uncommon; however it is important to be aware of them and to visit your GP if they occur.
Uncommon side effects (affects between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 100 people)
- Decreased libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Ejaculation disorder (this includes decreased volume of ejaculate)
- Depression (if you experience this you should stop finasteride and seek advice from your doctor)
In most people these side effects resolve with continued treatment or after stopping finasteride. However, there is a small chance that sexual dysfunction can remain a permanent effect even after stopping finasteride*.
- Hypersensitivity reactions (rash, itchiness, urticaria and swelling of lips, tongue, throat and face)
- Suicidal thoughts (if you experience this please stop finasteride immediately and seek advice from your GP)
- Breast tenderness and enlargement (this may contribute to male breast cancer, so if you notice any breast changes please seek advice immediately from your GP)
- Infertility (if you are planning to father a child you may want to consider stopping treatment)
- Testicular pain
- Increased liver enzymes
Many people using minoxidil solutions or foams do not have serious side effects. Rarely, this medication can cause burning, stinging, or redness on your scalp. Serious side effects or allergic reactions to minoxidil are very rare; however if you notice any adverse effects you should stop use and consult a medical professional as soon as possible.
Finasteride and Propecia are not suitable for women and so they cannot use this form of combination therapy. There are minoxidil products, such as Regaine for Women, which are suitable for women. These can be combined with other hair loss remedies such as hair fibres, concealers and most natural vitamins and supplements. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or just unsure about your hair loss therapy options, it is best to talk to your GP, one of our expert Pharmacists..