What is Propecia?
Propecia is a brand name medication used to treat alopecia or male pattern hair loss, a common condition among men. This condition can begin any time after age 20 and gets more aggressive as we get older. It starts with thinning of the hair and progresses to cause a receding hairline and a bald spot at the crown. It is extremely common, affecting most men at some point in their life.
Propecia makes use of the active ingredient Finasteride which is known to slow the hair loss process down.
The Definition of Alopecia
The process of hair loss, or alopecia is normally gradual. Each strand of hair has an average life span of about 3 years, after which it falls out and a new hair grows in its place. Hair grows from the hair follicles. Over time, these follicles become smaller and smaller. This initially causes the hair to thin and eventually, hair can no longer grow as the follicle is too small.
A natural hormone in the body, Dihydrotestosterone, is the cause of this gradual change in the hair follicles. It is this hormone that Propecia inhibits in order to slow the hair loss process down.
The longer the condition is left untreated, the more difficult it will be to treat, eventually getting to a point where treatments is no longer possible.
How does Propecia function?
The active ingredient of Propecia, Finasteride actively inhibits the production of 5-alpha-reductase, a natural enzyme present in the body. This enzyme causes testosterone to convert to dihydrotestosterone which leads to smaller follicles resulting in balding. By lowering this hormone, the process is slowed down.
When Do Results Start to Become Noticeable?
Initial results should normally be noticed within a few months but it generally take a year for the full effect to be evident. It is a rather slow, on-going process so patience is required for this treatment.
When treatment is discontinued, any gains that might have been achieved will be lost. It is always important to discuss medication with your doctor.