Propecia is the first and only pill that has been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss in men. Its generic name is finasteride and it prevents the conversion of testosterone to dihydrotestosterone (DHT), a key cause of hair loss, in the scalp. Male pattern hair loss results in a thinning of hair on the scalp or receding hairline. DHT is known to shrink the hair follicles until there are less visible hairs on the scalp. Propecia should be used by men only and should not be taken by women or children. The medication can be absorbed through skin, so women and children should not handle Propecia tablets. This may result in birth defects if a woman handles the drug during pregnancy.
Before taking Propecia, inform your doctor of any previous medical conditions or allergies and any medications you may be currently taking, and do not start any new medications without first consulting your physician. Propecia may be taken with or without food, but it should be taken with a full glass of water and only exactly as your doctor has prescribed. Propecia should be taken regularly and it may be necessary to take it daily for three months before you see the results. If you stop taking Propecia, hair loss may reoccur.
An overdose of Propecia is not thought to be life-threatening, but consult your doctor immediately if you think you may have taken too much. Mild side-effects of Propecia include faintness, swelling, impotence, pain in the testicles, tenderness in the breasts, runny nose, headache, weakness, dizziness, or skin rash. Studies have shown, however, that side-effects are uncommon and did not present a major problem with most patients taking Propecia. Call your doctor immediately if you notice any lumps in the breasts, nipple discharge, or breast pain, as these may be signs of male breast cancer.
It is important to continue taking Propecia for long-term usage. If your hair line has not shown any improvements after 12 months of taking the medication, it is unlikely that further treatment will benefit. Generally you will not be able to entirely grow back all the hair that has been lost, but results vary.
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