Dutasteride is a medication that can be prescribed off-label to treat male pattern hair loss. Like other medications used to treat hair loss, there are some associated side effects that may be reduced by switching to a topical formulation. Here is a brief overview of some key safety points about dutasteride.
What are the side effects of dutasteride?
When it comes to dutasteride, there are potential side effects that you should be aware of. You should inform your doctor if you experience any of the following:
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased libido (decreased sex drive)
- Ejaculation disorders
- Breast tenderness, enlargement (i.e. gynecomastia) or discharge
- Depressed mood
While these side effects can range from mild to severe, preliminary scientific data on dutasteride shows that it is likely safe and generally well tolerated by patients (Marihart et al., 2005). Dutasteride could interact with certain antibiotics, antifungals, antidepressants, blood pressure medications and chemotherapeutic agents. It’s important to inform your doctor about any other treatments or supplements you may be taking.
Men who have a family history or personal history of prostate cancer should be aware that dutasteride and related drugs may increase the risk of developing high-grade prostate cancer (Chau & Figg, 2018). This is because these medications may affect the ability to detect certain cancers in tissue samples. Make sure your doctor is aware of your medical history and any existing medical conditions.
Women who may become pregnant, or who are pregnant must not handle or take dutasteride. The medication may cause serious developmental abnormalities in male babies. Notify your doctor and pharmacist immediately if a woman has accidentally come into contact with dutasteride.
Why does dutasteride have side effects?
It’s important to understand why dutasteride has side effects. Dutasteride works by blocking the enzyme which converts testosterone into dihydrotestosterone (DHT), similar to finasteride. By blocking the formation of DHT and reducing the amount of this hormone in the blood, there’s less of a chance that DHT will attach to hair follicles and cause them to shrink (i.e. follicular miniaturization) and stop producing healthy hairs.
Unfortunately, this also means that dutasteride has the potential to interfere with normal hormone production and cause side effects in other areas of the body. These areas can include the reproductive system and nervous system (brain).
Current study data show that topical forms of dutasteride, such as Topical Dutasteride, with SiloxysSystem™ Gel, may help minimize this risk compared to the oral drug. They do so by reducing systemic absorption of the active ingredient into the bloodstream and targeting its delivery to the hair follicle.
Are dutasteride side effects permanent?
You may be concerned about whether dutasteride side effects are permanent. In most cases, side effects of dutasteride and comparable medications are reversible (Pereira & Coelho, 2020). At this time, the most comprehensive safety data available to the scientific community is on a similar medication called finasteride.
Side effects linked to this class of drugs generally go away once patients stop taking the medication (i.e. effects last only as long as the user is on treatment). Though there have been reports of long-term sexual side effects (post-finasteride syndrome), there isn’t enough study data currently to conclude that these medications directly cause long term problems. With that said, side effects should always be looked into and you should notify your doctor if you believe dutasteride treatment is affecting your health.
What should I do if I experience side effects while on dutasteride?
There are a few things you can do to ensure that you’re staying on top of your health and safety during treatment:
Notify a healthcare professional.
You should always tell your doctor as soon as possible if you experience unexpected effects while taking dutasteride. They will work closely with you to determine the cause of your side effects and assess whether treatment changes need to be made to avoid them.
Try taking a lower dose of medication.
Your doctor may recommend changing your dose of dutasteride to something smaller. Since the risk of side effects is greater when concentrations of a medication in the bloodstream are higher, lowering the amount of drug that enters the body may be helpful. With that being said, you should never try to adjust your dosing without first consulting with your doctor.
Trial another hair loss treatment.
Dutasteride is a powerful hair loss treatment, but it isn’t the only option. You may have heard of topical minoxidil, or hair transplant surgery. These target different aspects of pattern hair loss and some individuals may respond better to one treatment over another. Your doctor is the best person to talk to about the ideal treatment for your specific case of hair loss.
Side effects of dutasteride: Takeaway
It’s important to communicate with your doctor about any concerns you may have regarding side effects of dutasteride, or any other medication you may be taking. Your doctor can help you understand your individual risk and provide guidance on how dutasteride could affect you.
Worried about dutasteride side effects?
Many men are able to take dutasteride to treat hair loss without any issues. If you're worried about side effects, Topical Dutasteride, with SiloxysSystem™ Gel might be an option. Connect with a dermatologist today through XYON to see if this treatment is right for you.