Background and aim: Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is undoubtedly the most common form of hair loss in males. It is a condition which may cause cosmetic and psychosocial problems in androgen-dependent cases. In this open, randomized and comparative study we evaluated the efficacy of oral finasteride and 5% topical minoxidil treatment for 12 months in 65 male patients with mild to severe AGA.
Methods: We randomly assigned 40 (61.53%) patients to receive 1 mg/day oral finasteride for 12 months, and 25 (38.47%) patients applied 5% topical minoxidil solution twice daily for 12 months.
Results: There were no significant differences between the 2 groups considering age, age of onset of hair loss, family history and type of hair loss (p > 0.05). In the clinical evaluation at the endpoint of treatment, the clinical cure rates (i.e. increased intensity of hair) were 80% (32/40) for the oral finasteride group and 52% (13/25) for the 5% topical minoxidil group. Encountered side effects were all mild, and there was no need to stop the treatment. In the group given oral finasteride, side effects were noted in 7 patients: 6 patients suffered from loss of libido, and 1 patient had an increase in other body hairs; irritation of the scalp was seen in 1 patient in the group administered 5% minoxidil. These adverse events disappeared as soon as the treatment was stopped. The laboratory data on both drug groups did not show any statistically or clinically significant intragroup changes from baseline values to the endpoint (p > 0.05), except the level of serum total testosterone which was increased, and free testosterone and serum prostate-specific antigen in the finasteride group which were statistically decreased from baseline values to the endpoint (p < 0.05).
Conclusion: In this comparative study of systemic finasteride and topical minoxidil, it was concluded that both drugs were effective and safe in the treatment of mild to severe AGA, although oral finasteride treatment was more effective (p < 0.05). Adverse events were not considered important either, and these side effects disappeared as soon as the treatment was stopped.