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

J Cosmet Dermatol. 2005 Dec;4(4):258-61. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2005.00201.x.


Background: 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.

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

Patients/methods: 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.

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

Conclusion: 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.