Androgenic alopecia; the risk–benefit ratio of Finasteride

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Journal of Mind and Medical Sciences






Finasteride is currently approved and largely used as a therapeutic option for androgenetic alopecia. Apparently a safe drug and effective at the onset of its application, several concerns have since appeared over the years regarding the frequency and magnitude of finasteride adverse effects, which in some cases appear irreversible even after drug termination. This paper discusses the use of finasteride for androgenic alopecia from two distinct perspectives. On the one hand, androgenic alopecia is a condition that especially affects a person’s self-image and esteem, aspects that are subjectively-constructed and thus relative and changeable. On the other hand, this condition involves a multifactorial etiology, with androgens being only partly responsible. Because androgens have important and unique physiological roles within the body, any procedure that results in androgenic suppression should be advised with caution. Furthermore, adverse effects induced by finasteride are neither fully documented nor easily treated. Finally, as alternative therapeutic approaches (such as topical finasteride) become available, the oral administration of finasteride for androgenic alopecia should, in our opinion, be reevaluated. Due to such concerns, a detailed and informed discussion should take place with patients considering therapy with finasteride for androgenic alopecia.