Introduction: Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is a benign condition with variable psychosocial impact, with some individuals adapting well while others needing therapeutic support. Although 5α-reductase inhibitors like finasteride and dutasteride have proven effective in ameliorating AGA, their use/selection is currently a subject of debate.
Areas covered: Treatment of AGA with 5α-reductase inhibitors lead to variable adverse effects and relatively unstable results (therapeutic efficacy ending with treatment cessation), so the choice of optimal therapy is not straightforward. This paper presents a general perspective regarding AGA based on studies listed in PubMed, to better understand/appreciate the opportunity for long term use of medication for a biological condition having non-life threatening implications. Studies focussed on adverse effects suggest that finasteride should be used with caution in AGA, due to considerable and persistent side effects induced in some men. In contrast, efficacy data indicate that dutasteride (a stronger inhibitor) presents superior therapeutic results compared to finasteride.
Expert opinion: This paper argues that finasteride should be preferred to dutasteride in the treatment of AGA. Thus, finasteride preserves important physiological roles of dihydrotestosterone (unrelated to AGA) and, in addition, its adverse effects seem to be (at least in part) predictable.
Keywords: 5α-reductase inhibitors; Androgenetic alopecia; adverse effects; drug safety; dutasteride; finasteride.