Is Dutasteride Topical Going to Change the Way We Treat Receding Hairlines?

Medically reviewedby Dr. Amy Revene M.B.B.S.
WrittenbyLuat Duong
Last updated
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A global increase in hair fall in both men and women has led to the development of many solutions to keep hair in place. The use of oral finasteride and topical minoxidil has been the most reliable and FDA-approved method of treating hair loss problems.

Aside from these, topical dutasteride, now widely used as an effective tool to combat hair loss, has been a dark horse among the treatment options for male pattern baldness. Both oral and topical preparations of Dutasteride have been effective against receding hair lines.

What is Dutasteride?

dutasteride topical, treatment of androgenetic alopecia

GlaxoSmithKline patented the drug dutasteride in 1993. This drug, sold under the brand name Avodart, is an inhibitor of the 5-alpha-reductase (5-AR) enzyme responsible for breaking testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT).

Topical dutasteride blocks both type 1 and type 2 5AR, which has been an effective treatment for male pattern hair loss.

Initially, this medication was used only for treating benign prostatic hypertrophy. But due to its mode of action, this is now getting popular for treating androgenic alopecia, aka male pattern baldness, in Japan and South Korea.

Topical Dutasteride is used off-label in patients who do not respond to Finasteride or Minoxidil in the United States.

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What is the role of DHT in androgenic alopecia or male pattern hair loss?

treat hair loss, dutasteride versus finasteride

Androgenic alopecia is a genetic condition in which an individual suffers from hair loss in the form of a receding hairline or an overall decrease in hair density and thickness. This condition is the most common form of hair loss.

The signs of AGA usually become evident after puberty. Depending on the individual's sensitivity to androgens, the disease may manifest as a rapid decrease in the population of hair, or it may be chronic and progress slowly.

The primary hormone that stimulates male pattern baldness is dihydrotestosterone. Increased DHT levels don't cause hair loss unless your hair follicle cells become more sensitive to DHT molecules because of your genes.

However, prolonged exposure to increased levels of DHT on hair follicles makes them weak, shot, and thin. As a consequence, the hair gets weak and falls off quickly.

The baldness of the frontal area and crown (or vertex) area are common locations for hair loss. Increased DHT levels do not affect the hairs on the sides and back, so their density remains almost the same.

Read this: How To Reduce Hair Loss With DHT Blocking Foods?

DHT reduction promotes hair regrowth and prevents hair loss

benign prostatic hyperplasia, dutasteride compared to finasteride

DHT is the primary culprit in accelerating the process of androgenic alopecia. The main effect of DHT is the shortening of the hair growth cycle, resulting in the hair falling out of the follicles. Controlling DHT levels in your system is equivalent to handling your hair loss issues.

Using agents that balance DHT levels and maintain your hair cycles increases hair growth. These medications and drugs are now the first lines of defense against male pattern hair loss.

Several such medications are now available on the market to keep DHT levels in check. The mode of action of most of these medications is to block the 5AR enzyme to reduce or stop the breakdown of testosterone into DHT.

In addition to lowering DHT levels, these medications vasodilate blood vessels and increase blood circulation to the scalp. This action gives hair follicles the necessary nutrients to make and strengthen new hair strands.

Read this: 8 Effective Ways How To Remove DHT From Scalp

Sexual side effects: dutasteride vs. finasteride

generic propecia, dutasteride versus placebo

The ease of use, availability, low cost, and effectiveness of drugs like Finasteride and topical Dutasteride quickly made them a perfect treatment option worldwide.

Though these medications are now frequently used to treat male pattern baldness, concerns regarding their side effects are also increasing at the same rate. So, many people may fear using these drugs due to their potential side effects.

Most side effects happen to men, but women's reproductive systems are also a concern while using the drug. The significant risks of using these medications are erectile dysfunction, decreased libido, and changes in sperm parameters.

On average, 4% of the individuals using oral finasteride have experienced side effects. Depression, fatigue, and lethargy have also been observed, but not as often.

Most of the time, side effects go away on their own, but if the problem keeps happening, you should stop taking the drug and see a good doctor right away.

The frequency of side effects in the case of oral dutasteride is almost identical to that of finasteride. But the point of concern is that the half-life of oral dutasteride is relatively longer than finasteride. So, it tends to remain in the blood for longer, and the side effects take longer to resolve.

Topical solutions of these drugs pose much less threat than oral ones. This happens because the topical form of Finasteride is 15 times less likely to get into the blood than the oral form. But the efficacy and effectiveness of the drug remain the same.

Read this: 6 Most Effective Alternatives To Finasteride

Alternatives to Dutasteride with fewer side effects

No doubt there are serious side effects associated with Dutasteride or Finasteride. Here are the substitutes that offer similar treatments with fewer side effects:

Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine

treatment for male and female pattern hair loss

This serum is a perfect choice for people worried about the possible side effects of the reproductive tract or sexual activity. The hair Growth Routine by Scandinavian Biolabs is a natural solution prepared specifically to combat male pattern baldness.

The primary action of this serum is to maintain the balance of hair growth cycles. This botanical formulation keeps hair loss under control and stimulates the blood flow to the scalp to strengthen the follicles and promote hair regrowth.

The key ingredients include Capilla longa, niacinamide, and aloe vera extracts. A 150-day regimen is clinically tested to reduce hair loss by 90%.

Aside from reduced hair loss, there is an improvement in hair density, keratin levels, and overall hydration of the scalp. These actions minimize damage and encourage more substantial hair growth.

Hair Growth Routine | For Men
Hair Growth Routine | For Men
Formulated to combat shedding & signs of balding
Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Hair Growth Routine | For Women
Formulated to combat thinning hair & visible scalp


minoxidil for hair loss

Topical Minoxidil is a multifunctional drug that influences blood pressure and hair growth. This drug is a vasodilator available on the market under the name Rogaine.

Along with dilating blood vessels, the drug acts as an anti-hypertensive drug and thus poses significant effects on the hair growth pattern.

Both oral and topical preparations of Minoxidil are available on the market. Patients over the age of 18 can use the medication.

However, it does not treat receding hairlines or baldness. Usually, the effects of the drug subside when the patient stops using it, and the new hair strands start to fall off again.

The side effects that could arise from using topical Minoxidil may include dizziness, fainting, an allergic reaction, or trouble breathing.

Even though none of these side effects are life-threatening, you should still talk to a doctor if any of them happen during or after you take it.

Read this: The 7 Best Natural and Drug Alternatives To Minoxidil

Platelet-rich plasma (PRP)

Platelet-rich plasma therapy is an effective yet expensive method for treating androgenic alopecia. A person's blood is drawn for this therapy. This blood is then processed and injected back into the scalp.

This therapy increases blood supply to the head, and as a result, the hair grows faster and thicker. The complete treatment involves a series of injections with a gap of 4-6 weeks. Besides, the therapy requires maintenance injections every 4-6 months.

The average treatment cost for PRP ranges from $1,500–3,500, excluding the maintenance dose. Injuries, infections, metabolic disorders, platelet dysfunction syndrome, and cancer are all possible side effects of this therapy.

Is dutasteride more effective than finasteride in reducing DHT?

Dutasteride is increasingly becoming a popular choice for those suffering from androgenetic alopecia. It has been found to be more effective in treating hair loss than finasteride. Dutasteride is a more potent inhibitor of both types 1 and 2 of the 5AR enzyme when compared to Finasteride, which only inhibits type 2 5AR.

As a result, dutasteride successfully reduces DHT levels by 90%, while finasteride reduces them by 70%. This makes topical dutasteride a more potent and effective drug than finasteride in treating hair loss and hair growth.

Furthermore, dutasteride has been found to be more beneficial for patients who do not respond well to finasteride treatment, and it is also known to have long-term effects.

Should you try dutasteride instead of finasteride?

Generally, Dutasteride is a more effective treatment than Finasteride due to its ability to inhibit both types of 5α-reductase enzyme, which leads to a more effective reduction of DHT in the body.

However, it is important to note that Dutasteride has a greater potential for side effects than Finasteride, so it is important to weigh the benefits and risks of both treatments before making any decisions.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that you consult a doctor before deciding if Dutasteride is the right treatment for your specific condition. Your doctor will be able to assess your individual case and advise you on the most suitable course of action for your particular situation.

How do I apply topical dutasteride?

dutasteride topical

Topical dutasteride is a powerful treatment for androgenic alopecia. It is recommended that you follow these steps when applying it:

  • Take 30 drops of topical Dutasteride every day.
  • Apply it directly to the scalp, avoiding massage or any other kind of friction.
  • Target the common treatment areas such as the crown, top of the scalp, and front line.
  • Allow at least 3 hours before showering to let it soak in.
  • Consult a doctor to ensure you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.


Even though topical dutasteride is a good way to stop hair loss and has fewer side effects than Finasteride, you should still talk to a doctor before using it. Alternative treatments like the Scandinavian Biolabs Hair Growth Routine and topical Minoxidil, which have less side effects, can also be thought about.

In the end, you should talk to your doctor about all of your options before choosing the best one for you. With the right combination of treatments, you can manage your hair loss and even promote hair growth.

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Luat Duong

Luat Duong is a Copenhagen-based writer and content strategist specializing in hair loss and health. His work has been featured in MyHealthGuide, The Right Hairstyles, and Woman's Era. He is a graduate of Vaasa University. You can connect with him on LinkedIn.