Finasteride and minoxidil are both effective treatments for male hair loss, according to WebMD. Finasteride (Proscar and Propecia) is an oral medication, and minoxidil (Rogaine) is applied topically.
Finasteride works by blocking an enzyme that converts testosterone into the androgen dihydrotestosterone, states WebMD. As DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, eventually leading to baldness, reducing DHT levels is key to slowing male hair loss. Clinical studies found that finasteride stopped the progression of hair loss in 86 percent of men taking the drug, while 65 percent of study subjects reported a substantial increase of hair growth. Finasteride is recommended by the American Hair Loss Association as a first-line treatment for male hair loss.
Minoxidil is another option to treat male hair loss, states MedlinePlus. Originally developed as an oral treatment for high blood pressure, minoxidil had the side effect of unexpected hair growth, states WebMD. Researchers then developed a topical formulation to directly target hair loss, resulting in a product that was proven to slow hair loss and regrow some hair. However, as the drug does not affect the hormonal process of hair loss, efficacy has been limited, and results are generally temporary, with most new hair being lost once treatment stops, states MedlinePlus.