Topical Estrogen for Androgenetic Alopecia:
Topical estrogens were used many years ago for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia as well as other hair loss problems. Their use dimished when other medications, such as minoxidil, became available.
In 2004, researchers from Greece studied the benefit of estrogens in 75 post menopausal women with androgenetic alopecia
25 patients applied the medication for 12 weeks (15 drops every evening for 4 weeks and then every other night for 8 weeks),
25 patients applied the medication for 24 weeks (15 drops every evening for 4 weeks and then every other night for 8 weeks),
25 applied placebo medication for 12 weeks.
What were the results ?
Side effects included mild itchiness, redness and scaling in the scalp. 2 women receiving the 24 week course developed uterine bleeding about 4 and 5 months into the study. Overall, about 60 % of patients receiving the estrogen had an increase in the number of growing hairs (anagen hairs) and a decrease in the number of telogen hairs (resting hairs). “Before and after” data or assessments of patients views on their treatment were not included in this particular study.
This 2004 study is an interesting research paper. It reminds us of the well known fact that estradiol has important benefits for hair. Estrogen therapy is too often forgotten about in the treatment algorithms of hair specialists. More studies in how best to administer topical estrogen are needed – especially in combination with treatments such as minoxidil, prostaglandin analogues (like Latisse) and the laser comb.
Georgala S et al. Topical estrogen therapy for androgenetic alopecia in menopausal females. Dermatology 2004; 208: 178-179
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