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Can yeast infection creams boost hair growth?

Ninon D’s delightful question: I’ve been reading an interesting thread on the Long Hair Care Forum. It seems that some of the women there are using a cream marketed to treat thrush on their scalps to boost hair growth. The mind somewhat boggles at how anyone stumbled upon this idea, however lots of the women are reporting increased growth from creams containing miconazole nitrate such as Monistat. I’d be curious to know what your take is on this – genuinely beneficial, benign or bonkers?

The Left Brain’s skeptical response:

You’re right Ninon, the idea that miconazole nitrate (the active ingredient in Monistat) can stimulate hair growth is all over the Long Hair Forum. They make several mentions of medical studies that says miconazole works, but I was unable to find any such studies. (If anyone from the Long Hair Forum reads this, please let me know which reports you’re referring to.)

Can anti-fungals help hair growth?

The only credible research on this topic that I could find comes from a report issued by the Department of Internal Medicine, Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Maryland entitled “Ketoconazole Binds to the Human Androgen Receptor.” Ketoconazole, for those of you not up on your imidazole chemistry, is another antifungal which is a cousin of miconazole. The Bethesda report says that lab tests showed ketoconazole can interact with androgen receptors and therefore can inhibit testosterone levels.

What does all this mean?

Since androgen and testosterone levels are associated with androgenetic alopecia (male pattern baldness), it’s THEORETICALLY possible that this chemical could affect hair loss. However, this test did NOT evaluate hair growth, it only showed that this drug MIGHT be involved in PART of the metabolic pathway that leads to baldness.

Furthermore, the study also says that “ the dose of ketoconazole required for 50% occupancy of the androgen receptor is not likely to be achieved in vivo…” So even if this reaction can be observed in the laboratory it doesn’t seem very realistic to expect it would work on people.

So should I put Monistat on my scalp or not?

And what about our miconazole? The researchers said “androgen binding studies performed with other imidazoles, such as clotrimazole, miconazole, and fluconozole, revealed that in this class of compounds only ketoconazole appears to interact with the androgen receptor.” So even in lab tests at high levels, miconazole DOES NOT show any effect.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

The only report I was able to find does not support using miconazole for hair growth. Of course it’s possible that there are other studies out there showing a cause and effect. If anyone comes across them, please send them to me for review. I’ll gladly revise my position based on new data. But without some kind of study and plausible mechanism, I remain skeptical that yeast infection creams can increase hair growth.

{ 2 comments… add one }

  • M August 31, 2015, 5:41 pm

    I babysat for a pet that we didn’t and the pets owner did not know had ‘ringworm’ fungus and we got it too. It created a perfectly round bald spot on the back of the top of my head that was shocking looking and large (almost 2″ around) I went to my md and then to a
    dermatologist who knew nothing about it and said it was female pattern baldness and to take a rogaine like product. I insisted they were wrong as our indoor cat also caught it (from me) from the pet we babysat and had the exact same bald circles on his belly and then his thighs. I went back to my md with photos and websites of scalp ringworm pictures and she went online too and saw it for herself and what antifungals were used and prescribed them to me. Creams don’t really penetrate the hair follicle and pills are needed to really kill the fungus from within. I took the anti fungal pill once daily for 6 weeks. you cannot stop in the middle because any residue of fungus will regrow and you will have more ringworm. you need to blast it out, wash everything in your house because it lives on everything, treat all people and pets in the house as well. but, it is all worth it. It worked and my hair totally grew back as did our cats (our vet also prescribed the same for him) I found that my husband must have also caught it as he has perfect circles on his head and put on monistat cream, he washes his hair with diluted baking soda solution and rinses with diluted apple cider vinegar, he also puts tea tree on the spot before bedtime and his hairs are starting to come back. He says that if they dont come back like mine that he will also take the antifungal pill i got. The hair loss industry is a huge industry and surely doesn’t want this knowledge out. they will fight it and lobby against it but I believe after going though this that most all things we experience are not invisible or mysterious and are mostly caused by actual things that they don’t want us to investigate and usually have simple common sense cures. The body doesnt just do things for no reason, there is always a reason. I truly believe that a lot of baldness people experience is caused by ringworm fungus and other fungus that mulitplies due to overuse of anti-biotics which allows them to grow and also allows outside fungus to take over more easily on us as our systems are so weakened by the antibiotic.

  • m August 31, 2015, 5:45 pm

    I also wish to add that my 84 year old cousin who was told her hairloss was caused by stress and female pattern baldness with scarring in her 50″s told me when i showed her the picture of my bald spot that hers looked exactly like mine and she wondered if that is what she had also had. Hers scarred after many years. if you do not treat the fungus it will permanently damage your scalp and the hair will not regrow. you must nip it in the bud as fast as you can and you really need the anti fungal pill to do this, not the creams. I hope this helps people, it worked for me. I can download the pictures if you wish. Thank you.

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