An Essex-based company which tests clinical products is to investigate something that many people have pondered for some years: namely, will the medically-proven oral hair loss drug finasteride have any effect when applied directly to the scalp?
At present, finasteride 1mg is one of two go-two medications for people with Male Pattern Baldness, the genetic condition that accounts for the majority of hair loss in men. It is designed to be taken daily in pill form, though many men have wondered if – like minoxidil, the other clinically approved and licensed hair loss product – it could somehow be applied topically.
There is no evidence of a ‘ground-up’ version of finasteride that has been applied to the scalp ever actually having worked, and it is certainly not something that is recommended by the manufacturers.
But now Swiss-based pharmaceutical Polichem have hired Chelmsford-based Princeton Consumer Research to look into the drug’s efficacy when applied directly to the skin and exposed to various forms of light therapy.
UVA and UVB light
Unsurprisingly, the methodology is not so simple as grinding up a pill and rubbing it onto test subjects’ scalps: what Polichem and Princeton are testing specifically is whether a 0.25% solution of finasteride can induce photosensitisation by using Ultraviolet A (UVA) and Ultraviolet B (UVB) light. Photosensitisation in this instance appears to mean changes to the hair, such as growth, density and hair count.
UVA and UVB light phototherapy for hair loss is usually only used in hospitals as a treatment for alopecia areata – an autoimmune disorder which causes suddenly-occurring bald patches on the scalp.
The study is currently [June 2016] in the recruitment phase, with 60 men aged between 18 and 65 being sought. On the clinical trails registration, Polichem states that: “Healthy male volunteers, drawn from the general population, will be treated with P-3074 solution (0.25% finasteride), placebo vehicle control and 0.9% sodium chloride USP (negative control) by using 6 induction applications on the back area and Ultraviolet A (UVA)/Ultraviolet B (UVB) irradiations during the 3 week induction period, a 10 day rest period, and a challenge phase of a 24-hour patch application, UVA and UVB irradiation followed by evaluation of photosensitisation over the subsequent 72 hours.”
Any man who has used finasteride within six months before the trial start will be excluded, as will anyone with type 1 diabetes or a history of severe asthma. A rapid turnaround is anticipated in terms of the results, with the study due for completion in July 2016.
Shrinking hair follicles
Finasteride was originally developed to treat enlargement of the prostate gland, but its tendency to stop hair loss was soon observed. Its main use as a hair loss drug is that it reduces the production of a testosterone by-product named DHT; DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, thus slowing down hair growth and leading to thinning and hair loss.
While some people use finasteride 1mg tablets on their own, there are ways to improve the prognosis of people with genetic hair loss by combining the drug with other products. This is where the knowledge and expertise of a dedicated hair loss specialist can be helpful.
At Belgravia we find that treating men with personalised combination male hair loss treatment plans devised for each client’s specific needs tends to produce the most impressive results. By taking finasteride 1mg in conjunction with using topical applications of high strength minoxidil recommended from the wide range of formulations available from the clinic’s pharmacies, many of our clients have seen their shedding subside and their thinning hair thicken with steady regrowth.
Some also choose to add in extra hair growth boosters such as clinical therapy sessions which involve a number of practices that can help improve hair and scalp health, including UV and red light treatments. Another popular hair loss product is the HairMax Lasercomb which is a convenient way of accessing low level laser therapy at home to further encourage the growth process. A specialist can recommend the most suitable boosters for each client and talk them through why and how to use each one alongside their treatment course.
UPDATE: This clinical trial was registered as completed on 16th May 2017, however, results have not yet been published. As soon as these are made available, we will report back on the findings.
The Belgravia Centre
The Belgravia Centre is the leader in hair loss treatment in the UK, with two clinics based in Central London. If you are worried about hair loss you can arrange a free consultation with a hair loss expert or complete our Online Consultation Form from anywhere in the UK or the rest of the world. View our Hair Loss Success Stories, which are the largest collection of such success stories in the world and demonstrate the levels of success that so many of Belgravia’s patients achieve. You can also phone 020 7730 6666 any time for our hair loss helpline or to arrange a free consultation.