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Finasteride vs Tamsulosin for Hair Loss

By: Alejandro Buttari |
Finasteride vs Tamsulosin for Hair Loss

Finasteride and tamsulosin hydrochloride are popular medications that doctors prescribe for the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). BPH is a prostate gland condition that leads to a noncancerous enlargement of the prostate gland.

Finasteride is also used to treat androgenetic alopecia or male pattern baldness. But can you use tamsulosin hydrochloride for the treatment of male pattern hair loss too? Let’s find out. But first, let’s delve into what male pattern baldness is so we can understand how to treat it better.

 

What Is Male Pattern Baldness?

Male pattern baldness is a type of hair loss that affects around 50 million men in the United States. It causes a distinctive hair loss pattern that leads to a receding hairline and thinning hair primarily on the crown of the head.

This condition arises when an enzyme called 5-alpha reductase converts testosterone into a hormone called dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Rising levels of DHT shrink the size of the hair follicles, causing hair to fall out and preventing new hair from growing.

DHT levels also naturally rise in many men as they get older. This contributes to hair loss and benign prostatic hyperplasia among men who are genetically predisposed to these conditions.

 

What Is Finasteride?

Finasteride is an FDA-approved 5-alpha reductase inhibitor that blocks the effects of the 5-alpha reductase enzyme. By doing so, the body produces less DHT which helps reduce the levels of this hormone in the body.

This in turn helps treat hair loss in men with androgenetic alopecia. It also helps reduce the size of the prostate and improve the urinary symptoms of BPH.

Finasteride is available as an oral pill under the brand name Propecia and is used to treat hair loss. The prescription drug is also sold under the brand name Proscar when used for treating BPH. You can find low-cost generic versions of Propecia and Propecia in drugstores.

 

Side Effects of Finasteride

Finasteride may have side effects among certain patients. Its common side effects include the following:

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, faintness, or weakness
  • Headache
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Hives, skin rashes, redness, itching, and peeling
  • Swelling in the face, lips, throat, tongue, hands, arms, legs, or feet
  • Tenderness or swelling in the breasts
  • Rapid weight gain or loss
  • Low blood pressure
  • Difficulty in peeing
  • Testicular pain
  • Loss of interest in sexual intercourse
  • Inability to get or keep an erection
  • Abnormal ejaculation

 

What Is Tamsulosin?

Tamsulosin is an alpha-1 adrenergic receptor blocker that is often prescribed in the treatment of BPH. Alpha-1 receptor blockers are popularly used to treat high blood pressure and prostate problems in men.

This class of drugs works to inhibit the action of the norepinephrine hormone. Norepinephrine is responsible for contracting the walls of the smaller arteries and veins in the body.

Taking alpha-blockers like tamsulosin helps block the action of norepinephrine so the blood vessels can remain relaxed and open. This boosts blood circulation in the body and lowers blood pressure.

Tamsulosin also improves BPH symptoms such as frequent urination, weak urine flow, hesitancy, and a feeling of incomplete bladder emptying. This prescription medication works to relax the muscles in the prostate and bladder, making it easier to urinate.

Doctors may also prescribe tamsulosin for off-label use for the treatment of urinary tract stones.

Tamsulosin is available as an oral capsule under the brand name Flomax. You can also get generic alternatives on the market that cost less.

 

Side Effects of Tamsulosin

Tamsulosin may have the following side effects among patients:

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Weakness
  • Drowsiness
  • Sleep problems
  • Low blood pressure
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Back pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Dental problems
  • Runny or stuffy nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Abnormal ejaculation

 

Finasteride vs Tamsulosin for Hair Loss

The key difference between finasteride and tamsulosin is they belong to different classes of drugs. While finasteride is a 5-alpha reductase inhibitor, tamsulosin is an alpha-1 receptor blocker. So, they work differently and have different medical uses.

Although you can use both these medications to treat BPH, you cannot use tamsulosin for reducing hair loss in men and promoting hair growth.

Also, finasteride actively helps reduce prostate size while tamsulosin only relaxes the prostate and bladder muscles without reducing the size of the prostate.

Moreover, finasteride has similar side effects to tamsulosin. But the former has additional side effects like swelling in different parts of the body, tenderness in the breasts, skin rashes, impotence, and trouble having an orgasm.

 

Drug Interactions With Finasteride and Tamsulosin

Finasteride may interact with the following drugs:

  • Cimetidine
  • Cyclosporine
  • Conivaptan
  • Isoniazid
  • Imatinib
  • Methimazole
  • Pioglitazone
  • Ropinirole
  • Ticlopidine
  • Warfarin
  • Antibiotics
  • Antidepressants
  • Drugs to treat psychiatric disorders
  • Antifungals
  • Anti-malaria medications
  • Heart or blood pressure medications
  • Heart rhythm medications
  • HIV/AIDS medicines
  • Erectile dysfunction medicines

Meanwhile, tamsulosin may interact with the following drugs:

  • Ketoconazole
  • Terbinafine
  • Paroxetine
  • Cimetidine
  • Erythromycin
  • Doxazosin
  • Terazosin
  • Tadalafil
  • Sildenafil
  • Warfarin

Make sure to inform your healthcare professional if you’re taking other medications before being prescribed finasteride or tamsulosin.

 

Conclusion

Finasteride and tamsulosin are both used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. However, if you’re worried about hair loss as well, only finasteride can help you treat androgenetic alopecia by reducing your DHT levels. While tamsulosin is also helpful in treating BPH, it cannot address thinning and falling hair.

This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to substitute for medical care or to prescribe treatment for any specific health condition. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.