In this article you’ll find out exactly what Propecia shedding is. You’ll learn the reason why it happens in the first place, when you can expect its onset and for how long it could last.
We’ll also cover ways for dealing with the shedding.
Finally, we will look at alternatives to Propecia that don’t involve any of its side effects.
What is Propecia Shedding?
Propecia shedding happens when you start taking Propecia for the first time on a regular basis. The active ingredient in Propecia pills is finasteride.
This drug works by inhibiting the enzyme 5-alpha-reductase, which converts testosterone into DHT. DHT in turn, is the immediate cause of hair loss in susceptible men. Finasteride binds onto the 5-alpha-reductase molecules and effectively deactivates them, not allowing them to bind to testosterone as per their intended function.
DHT levels in the blood and scalp soon fall, allowing hair follicles that were under attack by DHT to “catch a breath” as it were.
You see, when DHT attacks the follicles, its primary effect is an alteration of the hair growth cycle.
Every hair follicle on the scalp goes through an endless cycle of growth lasting a few years (anagen phase), followed by a very brief regression phase (catagen) and a slightly longer resting phase that is measured in weeks (telogen).
A completely new hair grows out with every cycle, and it only grows in length during the first part of the cycle, the growth phase (anagen).
But DHT alters the hair growth dynamics, constantly decreasing the duration of the growth phase, relative to the regression and resting phases.
Eventually the growth phase is so short that the growing hair does not even get a chance to appear out of the surface of the skin.
So when DHT levels drop (up to 70%) shortly after finasteride treatment begins, many of the hair follicles that were in a prolonged resting phase are suddenly impelled back into the growth phase. And due to the massive drop in DHT levels, this transition to the growth phase happens en masse, affecting thousands of hair follicles at once.
As the follicle kicks back into the growth phase, the resting hair that had stopped growing (and would soon fall out quickly anyway) is pushed out from within by the new anagen hair that has started growing.
The key to understanding the unusual loss of hair that takes place after finasteride treatment starts is this: under normal conditions, the hair cycles of the individual follicles are not synchronized across the 100,000 or so hair follicles on the scalp.
Even a minor degree of synchronization can lead to a few thousand hairs being shed in a very short period of time. And finasteride treatment brings about exactly such a synchronization.
When will the shedding start, how long will it last and how severe will it be?
You won’t start shedding from one day to the next, as soon as you start on Propecia. It will take a few weeks for the new hair that has started growing to push out the old anagen hairs.
There are no hard and fast rules, but most men should expect to see some shedding between one to three months (at the latest) after they begin treatment. The shedding should normally last around a few weeks. It will then go away on its own.
Now as this is a transient phenomenon, the degree to which it will become noticeable from man to man will vary. A lot of it will boil down to mundane factors, unrelated to the extent of hair loss per se.
For example, most men will lose the majority of their hair in the shower, as they massage the shampoo into their scalp and rub their hands through their hair. The friction causes old hairs that were at the verge of falling out to do so.
Men who shampoo daily might not have the opportunity to notice much of a difference, compared to men who shampoo every few days, or even weekly.
Even something as simple as the color of your pillows (white vs dark) can influence how obvious the hair loss becomes during this brief period in time.
Understanding this and accepting the Propecia shedding as a stage of treatment (rather than a side effect to be feared) is the single most important step you can take to prepare. Because the preparation in this event is mostly psychological.
If anything, the shedding is a sign that the treatment is working: the levels of DHT in the body and follicles are decreasing. This, in turn, is bringing about a change in the steady but downward trajectory of hair growth, which in turn leads to this transient period of increased hair loss.
If, however, the shedding lasts for longer than a few weeks, it could be an indication of an underlying problem, perhaps unrelated to the finasteride. In that case it would be best to consult with your doctor.
How Can I Stop the Shedding?
As we said, there is nothing specific that you can do to stop Propecia shedding directly, and you wouldn’t even want to if you could. The hairs that are falling out are old telogen hairs, and as they fall they make way for newer and potentially stronger hairs.
These new hairs might remain in growth phase for longer, becoming longer, thicker, and leading to an improvement in the appearance of your head.
This is why many men on Propecia don’t actually experience much new hair growth, but instead they have thicker and stronger hair where it still exists.
This new, active hair should remain there for as long as you take Propecia (though it often stops working after five years or so). But when you stop taking the drug, the follicles may return to their previous abnormal hair cycle, become miniaturized, and fall out again for good.
Having said that, there is plenty that you can do to help the new, strong hairs grow as quickly as possible. You can support them with everything they need to grow, like the nutrients, minerals and enzymes that are required for hair production.
At the same time, you can cut down or eliminate hair-destroying chemicals, hormones and other substances that are found in the blood.
I don’t personally recommend the use of Propecia. This is not only because of the side effects that come along with it. More importantly, natural techniques for preventing hairline recession and balding can be just as effective.
I took Propecia for over a year and when I came off it, I noticed an immediate increase in my sex-drive, hardness of erection and more. I do, however, know that many men do just fine on it.
You can read more about how to beat hair loss naturally on this website, but the following will serve as a quick summary to get you started.
Firstly, stop drinking tap water.
Most tap water contains fluoride and heavy metals which disrupt the endocrine system and hormonal balance. Fluoride in tap water has been correlated with hair loss.
Secondly, reduce the glycemic load of the foods you eat. Living on foods with a high glycemic load is an evolutionary novelty for our species, and has been linked to all sorts of “diseases of civilization”, including baldness.
This means no more white breads, pasta or cereals. Eat foods that release their energy slowly into your blood. This prevents blood sugar spikes.
Thirdly, ensure that whole foods make up as much of your diet as much as possible.
A common cause of hair loss is vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. While there are medical conditions that can cause these deficiencies, a more likely cause is a poor diet.
How can you combat hair loss caused by lack of nutrients? With a varied, whole foods diet. These include:
- Lean meats (in moderation)
- Nuts and seeds
- Leafy green vegetables
- Colorful fruits
- Whole grains
When these foods make up the majority of your diet, you will be less likely to suffer from nutrient deficiencies. You’ll also have less room in your diet for higher calorie foods with little to no nutritional value.
Propecia shedding is a common (and normal) phenomenon which happens when you begin taking the hair loss drug Propecia (finasteride).
While it may be alarming, it should cease after a few weeks of continued use of the drug. The two major steps you can take are a) to be psychologically prepared and b) to support the growth of new hair via lifestyle and nutritional interventions.
Of course, there is one way to avoid this shedding period. Avoid Propecia altogether, opting instead for a multi-pronged, natural approach.
Do you have questions about the information shared above? Be sure to leave a comment below.