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Dutasteride vs Finasteride

writtenByWritten by: Jennifer Nelson
Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer Nelson

Jennifer is a contributing health writer who has been researching and writing health content with PlushCare for 3 years. She is passionate about bringing accessible healthcare and mental health services to people everywhere.

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reviewBy Reviewed by: Dr. Katalin Karolyi
Reviewer

Dr. Katalin Karolyi

Katalin Karolyi, M.D. earned her medical degree at the University of Debrecen. After completing her residency program in pathology at the Kenezy Hospital, she obtained a postdoctoral position at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute, Orlando, Florida.

March 29, 2021 Read Time - 5 minutes

Dutasteride vs Finasteride: Learn the Difference

Dutasteride and finasteride are in the same class of medications. They are both used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men, and finasteride is also FDA approved to treat male pattern hair loss. What’s the difference between these two medications? Is one better than the other? Can you take dutasteride for hair loss? 

Here’s what you need to know about dutasteride vs finasteride.

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What Is Dutasteride?

Dutasteride belongs to a class of drugs called 5alpha-reductase inhibitors. These medications block the production of a male hormone, dihydrotestosterone (DHT), which can trigger hair loss. 

Also known by the name brand of Avodart, dutasteride is FDA approved to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). It is also sometimes prescribed to treat hair loss as an off-label use.

Dutasteride Side Effects

While dutasteride is generally safe, it does carry the risk of side effects. Potential side effects of dutasteride can include:

  • Decreased sex drive
  • Difficulty getting or keeping an erection
  • Decreased sperm count or activity
  • Ejaculation problems
  • Enlarged or painful breasts
  • Nipple discharge
  • Certain types of prostate cancer
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, or throat

Dutasteride Precautions

Women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should not take dutasteride or even handle cut or crushed tablets, because it poses a risk to the fetus. Dutasteride should not be given to adolescents under the age of 18 or women.

Dutasteride may interact with other medications. Always tell your doctor about any medications you take, especially:

What Is Finasteride?

Finasteride is a 5α-reductase inhibitor that blocks the production of DHT. It is available in a 5 mg capsule under the name of Proscar or in the generic form for treatment of BPH. 

Finasteride is also available under the brand name of Propecia or in generic form in a 1 mg dosage for the treatment of male pattern baldness.

Finasteride Side Effects

Although generally safe, finasteride may cause side effects like:

  • Ejaculation disorder
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Trouble getting or keeping an erection
  • Skin rash
  • Enlarged or tender breasts
  • Nipple discharge
  • Pain or lumps in breasts
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, or throat
  • Confusion

Finasteride Precautions

Finasteride should not be taken or handled by women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. It can pose a risk to the fetus. Finasteride should only be taken by adults. It is generally not recommended for women.

What’s the Difference Between Dutasteride and Finasteride?

One of the biggest differences between dutasteride and finasteride is that only finasteride is FDA approved to treat male pattern baldness. However, dutasteride may be prescribed off-label for this purpose.

On a more technical level, finasteride only inhibits the Type 2 isoenzyme of 5α-reductase (5AR), while dutasteride inhibits both Type 1 and Type 2 5AR. As a result, some studies have shown that dutasteride may be somewhat better at treating hair loss than finasteride.

Additionally, dutasteride stays in your bloodstream much longer than finasteride. This may be part of the reason it seems to work better. However, it is important to know that you must wait 6 months after stopping dutasteride before you donate blood. You only have to wait 72 hours after stopping finasteride to donate blood.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Finasteride Used for?

Finasteride is used to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) as well as hair loss in men.

Does Finasteride Work?

Finasteride results for hair loss are encouraging. In one study, 83% of men experienced no further hair loss compared to baseline after two years of being treated with finasteride. While finasteride does not work for everybody, about 4 in 5 men can expect to keep the hair they have and about 2 in 3 men may regrow hair they’ve already lost. 

Is Dutasteride Safer than Finasteride?

Dutasteride and finasteride have been shown to have a similar rate of side effects. Neither option appears to be more or less safe than the other.

Why Is Dutasteride Not FDA Approved?

There have not been enough dutasteride hair loss studies yet to prove to the FDA that dutasteride is effective for treating hair loss. However, dutasteride has been FDA approved for the treatment of BPH, and has been proven to be safe.

Even though dutasteride has not been FDA approved for hair loss treatment, it can still be prescribed for that purpose.

Which Is Better: Finasteride or Dutasteride?

Finasteride and dutasteride are both effective hair loss treatments with similar side effects. Dutasteride may be slightly better at treating male pattern baldness. However, it stays in the bloodstream longer and interacts with more medications than finasteride, so it is not right for everybody.

Only a licensed doctor can decide whether finasteride or dutasteride is better for you. 

Does Hair Grow Back with Finasteride?

Some men will experience hair regrowth after taking finasteride for at least 6 to 9 months. However, finasteride is better at preventing future hair loss than regrowing lost hair.

Either way, you need to be patient. It takes at least 3 to 6 months to start seeing results, and it can take up to a year or more to see the best results.

Can You Get Finasteride Online?

You must talk to a doctor to get finasteride. However, you can have an online consultation with a licensed doctor. If they think you would benefit from finasteride, they can send an electronic prescription to your local pharmacy.

  • Book on our free mobile app or website.

    Our doctors operate in all 50 states and same day appointments are available every 15 minutes.

  • See a doctor, get treatment and a prescription at your local pharmacy.

  • Use your health insurance just like you normally would to see your doctor.

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Get Hair Loss Treatment Online

Are you ready to talk to a doctor about finasteride or dutasteride for hair loss? Schedule a video appointment with one of the trusted doctors at PlushCare today. You can tell them about your hair loss concerns, medical history, and medications, and if they think it’s appropriate, they can electronically send a prescription for finasteride or dutasteride to your local pharmacy.

Scheduling an appointment with PlushCare is easy. Simply click here or download the PlushCare App. Take the first step toward keeping your hair today!


Read More About Dutasteride vs Finasteride


Sources:

PlushCare is dedicated to providing you with accurate and trustworthy health information.

Mayo Clinic. Dutasteride (Oral Route). Side effects. Accessed on March 18, 2021 at
https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/dutasteride-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20063575

U.S. National Institutes of Health. Reviews in Urology. Comparison of Clinical Trials With Finasteride and Dutasteride. Accessed on January 19, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1472914/

U.S. National Institutes of Health. Clinical Interventions in Aging. The efficacy and safety of dutasteride compared with finasteride in treating men with androgenetic alopecia: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Accessed on January 19, 2021 at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6388756/ 

U.S. National Institutes of Health. Drugs. Finasteride: a review of its use in male pattern hair loss. Accessed on January 19, 2021 at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/9951956/

Most PlushCare articles are reviewed by M.D.s, Ph.Ds, N.P.s, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals. Click here to learn more and meet some of the professionals behind our blog. The PlushCare blog, or any linked materials are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment. For more information click here.

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