Although it is marketed as being used to treat dandruff, there are suggestions that ketoconazole might be of use to hair loss sufferers. We look closer.
Originally discovered in 1976 by a team working in Belgium for Jansenn Pharmaceutica, ketoconozale was originally bought to market as a potent oral antifungal treatment, the first of it’s kind and gratefully adopted. Doctors would prescribe oral ketoconazole as a first line systemic antifungal of choice, effective against a range of difficult to treat fungi such as Candida, Histoplasma, Blastomyces amd Coccidioides. It has since been replaced by other agents from the azole “family” such as itrazole.
One of the principal reasons for the market moving on to other treatments was the understanding that oral ketoconazole had a problem side-effect. The benefits of it blocking the enzymes causing the fungi were outweighed by the same processes blocking the conversion of cholesterol to steroid hormones. In short, there was a potential for serious liver damage.
Fortunate then that the topical version of ketonconazole shows absolutely none of these side-effects when used in it’s topical form. It is still prescribed by doctors for seborrhic dermatitis, better known as dandruff but maybe less understood is how unpleasant the condition can be become at it’s extremes. It is also the active ingredient in many ointments and creams used to treat famliar fungal conditions like athletes foot, ringworm and thrush.
Shampoo for Hair Loss?
It is true that there is some evidence to suggest that ketoconazole shampoo might be of benefit to people suffering with hair loss by helping to slow the process. The theory is that the antifungal properties reduce the scalp microflora which might otherwise inflame the follicles and cause hair loss. You can buy the 1% strength version over the counter but would need to get a prescription for the 2% version.
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It is a shame more research has not been done but the science behind this is a lot more convincing than the case for caffeine. Just the same, unless you have a condition, like dandruff, that would require you to use it more often we would suggest you restrict use to once a week.
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