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J Cosmet Dermatol. 2005 Dec;4(4):258-61.

A pilot study evaluating the efficacy of topically applied niacin derivatives for treatment of female pattern alopecia.

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Department of Dermatology, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, NC, USA.



Female pattern alopecia is a common dermatologic condition that manifests after puberty. The only approved drug treatment for this condition is 2% minoxidil for topical application.


This pilot study examined the effect of topical application of two niacin derivatives, octyl nicotinate and tetradecyl nicotinate, on hair fullness in female alopecia.


Sixty female subjects with Ludwig types I-III female pattern hair loss were evaluated in a double-blinded, placebo-controlled (40 active, 20 placebo) design using standardized 35-mm photographic analyses for assessment of efficacy after 6 months of application.


The niacin derivatives demonstrated a statistically significant increase in hair fullness (P = 0.04 compared to the placebo).


Whereas evaluation of hair growth in women is challenging, this 6-month pilot study demonstrated statistically significant increase in hair fullness on blinded 35-mm photographic analysis. Long-term topical application of nicotinic acid derivatives offers promise for providing benefit in female alopecia and warrants further study.

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