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Topical nutrients may provide benefits for male pattern baldness

Background

Androgenic alopecia (AGA), otherwise known as male pattern baldness, can occur early in life and is characterized by the gradual loss of hair around the temples and the top of the head. Prescription medications that treat this condition may produce unwanted side effects, so researchers have investigated alternate therapies, including a topical foam containing a mix of vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, and caffeine.

The study

This 6-month randomized controlled trial enrolled 62 men with AGA and assigned them to apply either a topical foam containing nicotinic acid hexyl ester, polyphenols (dihydroquercetin-glucoside and epigallocatechin gallate), zinc, glycine, and caffeine or a control vehicle twice a day. The primary outcome was the telogen rate (i.e., the proportion of hair in the telogen phase, the resting phase of the hair cycle that precedes the hair-loss phase), and the secondary outcome was hair density. The researchers also assessed product safety.

The results

The reduction in telogen rate in the intervention group was greater than in the control vehicle group, but both groups experienced increased hair density. Six participants in the intervention group reported reddening and burning, which the authors attributed to the hexyl nicotinate.

Note

In controlled trials comparing topical applications, the control compound is referred to as a vehicle, rather than a placebo.

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