(HealthDay News) – Over a two-year period, finasteride increased hair growth in all four areas of the scalp affected by male pattern baldness and reduced hair loss in two or more of these areas, depending on patient age, according to research published online Feb. 13 in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology.

Elise A. Olsen, MD, of the Duke University Medical Center in Durham, NC, and colleagues conducted a randomized, double-blind, multicenter study involving men with vertex hair loss who were given finasteride (1mg/d) or matching placebo for 24 months. Men were divided into two groups based on age (18–41 and 41–60 years). Standard global photographic assessment of the vertex, anterior/mid-scalp regions, and frontal and temporal hairlines were used to determine the efficacy of finasteride in the treatment of male pattern baldness.

Compared with placebo, the researchers found that finasteride resulted in statistically significant hair growth in all four scalp regions after 24 months of treatment. Furthermore, younger men treated with finasteride experienced less hair loss in all four regions, while older men had less hair loss in the vertex and anterior/mid-scalp regions. Drug-related sexual side effects were reported at a slightly higher rate with finasteride treatment compared with placebo in both age groups.

“In conclusion, treatment with finasteride (1mg) improves scalp hair growth and decreases hair loss in the four regions of the scalp affected with male pattern hair loss. The greatest effects were seen in the vertex and anterior/mid-scalp regions, with greater efficacy seen in younger compared with older men,” the authors write.

Funding for this study was provided by Merck, which manufactures finasteride; several authors disclosed financial ties to Merck.

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