Pattern baldness, also known as androgenetic alopecia, is one of the most common causes of hair loss, seen frequently in men as they age. Moreover pattern hair loss is not an exclusive gentleman’s club. An expected 40% of women will develop pattern hair loss as they age1. However there are more treatment options for men, with only one medication, minoxidil, currently approved for use in women2.
Previous clinical trials have demonstrated both efficacy and safety for the use of a 2% minoxidil solution in women2–5. Most recently, a new study has just released the results of the use of a 5% minoxidil foam in women6. Over 400 women with female pattern hair loss were included in the study which investigated the use of once-daily 5% minoxidil foam for 24 weeks. A visible improvement was observed by 12 weeks with a significant increase of 9.1 hairs/cm2 by 24 weeks. Both patients and an expert review panel agreed that hair coverage had improved.
Compared with the previous 2% solution, the foam formulation was better tolerated with significantly lower reports of irritation7. The most common side effects of mild itching and dryness were observed in less than 10% of women. Severe itching and weight gain was observed in only 1.5% of participants. The increased tolerability is believed to be due to a new propylene glycol-free formula, as this ingredient has been shown to cause reaction in some individuals8–10.
Overall, minoxidil is one of the most well-studied treatment options for hair loss in women. Even so, it is important to discuss your individual situation with your physician or dermatologist prior to starting any new medication. For example, in this study, participants were either on birth control or were postmenopausal as minoxidil is not recommended for use during pregnancy. Consulting an expert will help to create an informed choice in your hair restoration.
Article by: Dr. J.L. Carviel, PhD, Mediprobe Research Inc.
- Santos Z, Avci P, Hamblin MR. Drug discovery for alopecia: gone today, hair tomorrow. Expert Opin Drug Discov. 2015 Mar;10(3):269–92.
- Gupta AK, Foley KA. 5% Minoxidil: Treatment for Female Pattern Hair Loss. Skin Therapy Letter. 2014 Nov-Dec;19(6):5-7.
- Olsen EA. Topical minoxidil in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in women. Cutis. 1991 Sep;48(3):243–8.
- Whiting DA, Jacobson C. Treatment of female androgenetic alopecia with minoxidil 2%. Int J Dermatol. 1992 Nov;31(11):800–4.
- Jacobs JP, Szpunar CA, Warner ML. Use of topical minoxidil therapy for androgenetic alopecia in women. Int J Dermatol. 1993 Oct;32(10):758–62.
- Bergfeld W, Washenik K, Callender V, Zhang P, Quiza C, Doshi U, et al. A Phase III, Multicenter, Parallel-Design Clinical Trial to Compare the Efficacy and Safety of 5% Minoxidil Foam Versus Vehicle in Women With Female Pattern Hair Loss. J Drugs Dermatol JDD. 2016 Jul 1;15(7):874–81.
- Blume-Peytavi U, Hillmann K, Dietz E, Canfield D, Garcia Bartels N. A randomized, single-blind trial of 5% minoxidil foam once daily versus 2% minoxidil solution twice daily in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in women. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2011 Dec;65(6):1126–34.e2.
- Warshaw EM, Botto NC, Maibach HI, Fowler JF, Rietschel RL, Zug KA, et al. Positive patch-test reactions to propylene glycol: a retrospective cross-sectional analysis from the North American Contact Dermatitis Group, 1996 to 2006. Dermat Contact Atopic Occup Drug. 2009 Feb;20(1):14–20.
- Lessmann H, Schnuch A, Geier J, Uter W. Skin-sensitizing and irritant properties of propylene glycol. Contact Dermatitis. 2005 Nov;53(5):247–59.
- Friedman ES, Friedman PM, Cohen DE, Washenik K. Allergic contact dermatitis to topical minoxidil solution: etiology and treatment. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2002 Feb;46(2):309–12.