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Clin Interv Aging. 2006;1(2):121-9.

Pharmacologic interventions in aging hair.

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Department of Dermatology, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.


The appearance of hair plays an important role in people's overall physical appearance and self-perception. With today's increasing life-expectations, the desire to look youthful plays a bigger role than ever. The hair care industry has become aware of this and is delivering active products directed towards meeting this consumer demand. The discovery of pharmacological targets and the development of safe and effective drugs also indicate strategies of the drug industry for maintenance of healthy and beautiful hair. Hair aging comprises weathering of the hair shaft, decrease of melanocyte function, and decrease in hair production. The scalp is subject to intrinsic and extrinsic aging. Intrinsic factors are related to individual genetic and epigenetic mechanisms with interindividual variation: prototypes are familial premature graying, and androgenetic alopecia. Currently available pharmacologic treatment modalities with proven efficacy for treatment of androgenetic alopecia are topical minoxidil and oral finasteride. Extrinsic factors include ultraviolet radiation and air pollution. Experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that oxidative stress also plays a role in hair aging. Topical anti-aging compounds include photoprotectors and antioxidants. In the absence of another way to reverse hair graying, hair colorants remain the mainstay of recovering lost hair color. Topical liposome targeting for melanins, genes, and proteins selectively to hair follicles are currently under investigation.

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