Truths & Myths: Ketoconazole Shampoo Hair Loss

by Colleen Welsch on February 20th, 2020
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Have you heard of ketoconazole shampoo for hair loss? You may have heard murmurings about this mysterious treatment for androgenetic alopecia. The media has hopped on the bandwagon of highlighting the potential benefits of an emerging range of ketoconazole products, particularly ketoconazole shampoo for hair loss. So is ketoconazole worth the investment, or is it just another fad? Keep reading to learn more about ketoconazole shampoo for hair loss, and natural alternatives to this so-called miracle product.

What Is Ketoconazole Shampoo for Hair Loss?

Ketoconazole is a medication formulated to treat fungal infections of the scalp. Although sometimes administered orally for fungal infections, most ketoconazole hair growth products are in topical form, usually as a shampoo. Ketoconazole shampoo is available over the counter in lower concentrations.

Products with higher concentrations of ketoconazole are available only when prescribed by a doctor as an antifungal treatment. This is due to the possible link with liver damage, making the treatment a last resort for some infections.

While ketoconazole shampoo can be an effective treatment for dandruff and other fungal infections of the scalp, some people also claim that it can be used to treat hair loss. For example, a 2005 study1 tested the use of 2% ketoconazole shampoo for hair loss on 10 mice with seborrheic dermatitis and androgenic alopecia (male pattern baldness). After three weeks, significant results were shown in repeated experiments, demonstrating that ketoconazole could be beneficial in treating seborrheic dermatitis accompanied by hair regression or male pattern baldness.

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How Ketoconazole May Work for Hair Loss

Androgenic hair loss, otherwise known as male pattern baldness, happens when the hormone called DHT shrinks the hair follicles until they no longer produce new hair.

It’s thought that ketoconazole shampoo may work on hair loss by inhibiting 5AR, the enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT. By reducing the body’s production of DHT, hair loss is greatly diminished.

The Truth About Ketoconazole for Hair Loss

Ketoconazole shampoo sounds like a great option for treating hair loss. So why don’t more people use it?

The truth is that the research supporting this synthetic antifungal medication as a topical hair loss treatment is founded only upon a few small clinical trials on humans. Translation? It might not actually work.

And there is also a major downside to using ketoconazole shampoo for hair loss. As we mentioned before, the medication has been linked to liver damage. So if you’re considering using ketoconazole to treat hair loss, speak with your doctor first to see if it’s actually a good idea for you.

Ketoconazole Natural Alternatives

So if ketoconazole is a no-go when it comes to hair loss, what natural alternatives can you try instead? Here are a few ideas:

  • Countless studies point to a strong link between healthy hair and good nutritional practices that nourish hair follicles and create a good environment for hair growth. To promote healthy hair growth, eat a diet rich in lean proteins and healthy fats plus plenty of fruits and vegetables for a diet rich in hair-healthy nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin C, zinc and iron.
  • Supplement your diet with a clinically proven hair growth supplement like Viviscal Hair Growth Supplements or Viviscal Man. Viviscal is a simple way to supply the body with key vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that nourish thinning hair and promote existing hair growth from within.*
  • You should also use a gentle shampoo and moisturizing conditioner to give your hair the TLC it needs. Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Shampoo and Viviscal Gorgeous Growth Densifying Conditioner are formulated to gently cleanse while nourishing hair with hair-strengthening vitamins and minerals like biotin, keratin and zinc, leaving hair looking naturally thicker and fuller.
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Viviscal Hair Growth Supplement

Overall, if your doctor prescribes an antifungal treatment for your hair, they may recommend ketoconazole hair loss treatment. However, if your goal is to support existing hair growth and have thicker, fuller hair, there are drug-free alternatives. Supplementing your diet with the important nutrients for promoting healthy hair growth, paired with a gentler shampoo and moisturizing conditioner, can provide excellent results with fewer risks.*

1Jiang, J, et al.; J Dermatol. (2005)
Existing hair growth