I frequently get asked whether minoxidil has any benefit in treating frontal fibrosing alopecia (FFA). It seems that it could provide some benefit but it's not completely clear yet if it is truly helping the patient's FFA or their underlying androgenetic alopecia that many patients with FFA also have. Large scale studies are needed.
I generally add minoxidil once I have some evidence that a patient is stabilizing with their main anti-inflammatory treatment. This typically includes one or more of topical steroids, steroid injections, doxycycline, hydroxychloroquine and anti-androgens such as finasteride or dutasteride.
It’s interesting that 32 % of patients in one study had an improvement in their FFA with use of anti-androgens. When one looks at a larger group of 111 FFA patients of which 74.8 % were using minoxidil, one notes that 47 % of patients had an improvement with anti-androgens. So it does seem that patients using minoxidil had better outcomes. There is at least some suggestion here that minoxidil might help.
Up to 40 % of patients with FFA have androgenetic alopecia so it’s difficult sometimes to decipher whether minoxidil is truly helping the patient’s FFA or whether it is helping their underlying androgenetic alopecia. More good studies are needed.
Vano-Galvan S et al. Frontal fibrosing alopecia: a multicentre review of 355 patients. J Am Acad Dermatol 2014; 70: 670-678
Dr. Jeff Donovan is a Canadian and US board certified dermatologist specializing exclusively in hair loss. To schedule a consultation, please call the Vancouver office at 604.283.9299