Finasteride in hidradenitis suppurativa: A "male" therapy for a predominantly "female" disease

Birgit N. Khandalavala, Melissa Voutsalath

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Objective: Hidradenitis suppurativa is associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, and a hormonal component has been implicated. Finasteride is an anti-androgenic agent used for benign prostatic hypertrophy, androgenic alopecia, and, in females, hirsutism. Finasteride is an inhibitor of type II 5 alpha-reductase that reduces dihydrotestosterone levels and appears to alter end-organ sensitivity of the folliculopilosebaceous unit. The objective is to review the use of finasteride for hidradenitis suppurativa. Design: Review of the literature. Setting: Clinical treatment of patients with hidradenitis suppurativa. Measurement/participants: Five publications described the use for hidradenitis suppurativa. Four global case reports cited 13 individual patients, four male and nine female. Females included three adolescent patients and a child aged seven with precocious puberty. In the United States, finasteride in obese male adults was mentioned to be helpful. Results: Oral finasteride, as monotherapy or additional therapy was utilized for advanced hidradenitis suppurativa. The outcomes were largely favorable, with complete resolution in three patients. A latency period was evident in a majority. Limited, or continuous use for up to six years, was detailed. Response to reintroduction was successful. A benign safety profile with excellent tolerability was described. Teratogenicity of finasteride was addressed and contraception advocated in female patients. Sexual adverse effects were not ascertained. Conclusion: In hidradenitis suppurativa, finasteride could be considered in adults of both sexes as well as in select female children and adolescents, particularly those with concurrent metabolic and hormonal alterations present. Finasteride provides another highly effective, durable, relatively safe, and inexpensive option in the treatment of hidradenitis suppurativa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-50
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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