Finasteride is a medication that is sold under the brand name Proscar to treat hypertrophy or enlargement of the prostate gland in men. It is also sold as Propecia to treat male pattern baldness. It works by blocking the production of a potent form of the androgen (male hormone) testosterone. Excess levels of this hormone can trigger acne, and finasteride might also be beneficial in treating acne by decreasing excess sebum (oil) in the skin.
Finasteride is commonly prescribed as Proscar to treat benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) in men. In BPH, the prostate gland becomes enlarged and can suppress the urethra, making urination difficult and painful. This medication is also prescribed under the brand name Propecia to decrease hair loss because of male pattern baldness.
How it Works
The hormone testosterone does not act directly on the prostate gland and skin or cause male pattern baldness. An enzyme in the body called 5 alpha-reductase must first converts it to a more potent form, dihydrotestosterone (DHT). Excess levels of DHT can cause the prostate to enlarge, hair loss to occur on the front and top of the head and also affect the skin’s sebaceous glands. The drug finasteride works by selectively inhibiting this enzyme, thus decreasing the transformation of testosterone to DHT.
Effects on Acne
Hormones also play a key role in the development of acne; high levels of androgenic hormones such as dihydrotestoterone (DHT) can cause excess sebum (oil) production, leading to acne flare-ups. Hormonal therapies such as finasteride help decrease excess DHT in the blood, decreasing acne and other effects. According to research published in the "Journal of Drugs in Dermatology," anti-androgen medications such as finasteride might help prevent acne by blocking the effects of androgens on the sebum-producing sebaceous glands. However, it is still not proven that this is an effective acne treatment, and the FDA has not yet approved finasteride for acne treatment.
The FDA’s Medication Guide advises that finasetride should be taken in does of 5 mg per day for prostate problems. The dosing for male pattern baldness is 1 mg once a day. This medication should be taken at the same time each day and only under a doctor's supervision.
Side effects of finasteride include the decrease of body hair in men by up to 50 percent and semen volume by 25 percent. Women who take finasteride to decrease excess male hormones should not use it if they are pregnant or might become pregnant. Individuals with liver problems should not take finasteride as the liver filters all medications from the body.