Experiencing a surge in hair loss can be quite disconcerting for those who are using finasteride to address hair loss concerns. However, it’s important to recognize that this phenomenon, known as finasteride shedding, is a fairly common occurrence and doesn’t necessarily warrant immediate alarm.
It’s worth noting that this shedding can manifest regardless of the specific hair loss treatment being utilized, making it a general feature of such therapies rather than something exclusive to finasteride. This articles delves into the realm of finasteride shedding associated with its use, the anticipated timing of such shedding, and proactive measures to take if you find yourself grappling with increased hair loss while undergoing this hair loss treatment.
Understanding Finasteride Shedding
Finasteride shedding encompasses an unexpected upsurge in hair loss that emerges shortly after embarking on a finasteride-based treatment regimen. This occurrence is not confined to a particular form of finasteride administration; both oral and topical variants can lead to this outcome. It is imperative to differentiate finasteride shedding from a genuine drug intolerance or allergic reaction, as it is rooted in shifts within the hair growth cycle.
Importantly, the escalation in shedding does not necessarily translate to a worsening of your pre-existing pattern of hair loss. Instead of being localized to visibly thinning areas like the hairline or crown, shedding linked to finasteride treatment tends to affect the entire scalp. It’s noteworthy that the hair loss solely pertains to the scalp and is not manifested elsewhere on the body.
What Are The Cause Of Finasteride Shedding?
Finasteride shedding, also referred to as “shedding phase,” is a temporary increase in hair loss that can occur after starting finasteride treatment. While the exact mechanisms underlying this phenomenon are not fully understood, there are several theories that attempt to explain the causes of finasteride shedding:
Hair Growth Cycle Synchronization
Finasteride works by inhibiting the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which is a hormone that contributes to male pattern baldness. This reduction in DHT levels can lead to a synchronization of the hair growth cycle, causing a larger number of hair follicles to enter the shedding phase (telogen phase) simultaneously. This can result in a noticeable increase in hair loss, but it’s important to remember that this shedding is temporary and part of the natural hair growth cycle.
Transition to New Growth Cycles
As DHT levels decrease due to finasteride, hair follicles that were previously in a resting phase (telogen) can transition to a new growth phase (anagen). This transition can involve the shedding of existing hairs to make way for new hair growth. This shedding is essentially a sign that the hair follicles are responding to the changes induced by finasteride.
Delayed Effects of DHT Suppression
It might take some time for the effects of DHT suppression to become apparent. As DHT levels decline gradually, it can take a few months for the hair follicles to respond and enter new growth cycles. This delay could contribute to the shedding that is observed shortly after starting finasteride.
Reaction to Changes in Hormone Levels
Hormonal fluctuations can trigger changes in hair growth patterns. The reduction of DHT through finasteride treatment could lead to hormonal adjustments that affect hair follicle behavior, potentially causing temporary shedding before the follicles adapt to the new hormonal environment.
Each person’s response to finasteride can be unique. Factors such as genetics, hormonal balance, and the specific characteristics of an individual’s hair follicles may influence the extent and timing of shedding.
How Long Does Finasteride Shedding Last?
Finasteride shedding is usually a temporary phase. The duration of shedding can vary from person to person, but in most cases, it tends to last for a few weeks to a few months. Here’s a general timeline of what you might expect:
Initial Shedding Phase (1 to 3 months): The shedding phase often begins within the first few weeks to a month of starting finasteride. During this time, you might notice an increased amount of hair shedding compared to your baseline. This phase can be concerning, but it’s important to understand that it’s a normal part of the hair growth cycle response to the changes in DHT levels caused by finasteride.
Stabilization and Recovery (3 to 6 months): After the initial shedding phase, many individuals begin to see a reduction in hair loss. Hair follicles that have shed their existing hairs make way for new hairs to grow in their place. This transition period can last several months, during which you might observe gradual improvements in hair density.
Normalization and Regrowth (6+ months): As your hair follicles adjust to the new growth cycles induced by finasteride and as DHT levels remain suppressed, you should start to see signs of regrowth and overall improvement in hair thickness. This phase can extend beyond the initial six months, and visible changes might continue to develop over the course of a year or more.
It’s important to note that individual responses to finasteride can vary widely. Some people might experience shorter shedding phases, while others might notice shedding for a more extended period. Factors such as genetics, age, overall health, and the severity of your hair loss can influence how your body responds to the treatment.
What Does Finasteride Shedding Look Like?
Below is an example of a patient who was on finasteride, experienced shedding, then stopped finasteride. This patient was on finasteride for a year when this level of shedding occurred. It took the patient a year to regrow the lost hair. The after photo is the patient’s hair growth recovery at the one year mark.
If you’re concerned about the duration of shedding or the progress of your hair growth while on finasteride, it’s advisable to consult with a medical professional, a dermatologist or trichologist or a healthcare provider with expertise in hair loss treatments. They can provide personalized guidance, monitor your progress, and address any questions or concerns you may have. Remember that patience is key when it comes to hair regrowth treatments, as visible improvements often take time to become noticeable.