March 27, 2006

Finasteride Reduces Hair Loss in Women

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - When given in combination with oral contraceptives, finasteride, an orally administered drug approved for male-patterned baldness, can improve female-pattern hair loss in most women, according to the results of a small study reported in the March issue of the Archives of Dermatology.

At present, the main treatment for female-pattern hair loss is topical minoxidil, which is effective, but tolerability can be an issue, senior author Dr. Antonella Tosti and colleagues, from the University of Bologna in Italy, note. Whether treatment with agents such as finasteride, which show activity against male hormones, might promote hair growth in women has been unclear.

Tosti's group enrolled 37 women with female-pattern hair loss who were treated with finasteride in combination with an oral contraceptive, because finasteride has been linked to birth defects. In the United States, finasteride is sold as Propecia and other trade names, and minoxidil is sold as Rogaine.

After 12 months of therapy, hair growth improvements were rated as "great" in three patients, "moderate" in eight and "slight" in twelve women. Thirteen women had no improvement and one patient experienced a worsening of their female-pattern hair loss. Twelve patients also had a significant improvement in hair density.

None of the patients experienced adverse effects with the treatment, the report indicates.

"Further studies are necessary to understand which patterns of female-pattern hair loss respond better to this treatment," the authors conclude.

SOURCE: Archives of Dermatology, March 2006.