Background: In the search for alternative agents to oral finasteride and topical minoxidil for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia (AGA), melatonin, a potent antioxidant and growth modulator, was identified as a promising candidate based on in vitro and in vivo studies.
Materials and methods: One pharmacodynamic study on topical application of melatonin and four clinical pre-post studies were performed in patients with androgenetic alopecia or general hair loss and evaluated by standardised questionnaires, TrichoScan, 60-second hair count test and hair pull test.
Results: FIVE CLINICAL STUDIES SHOWED POSITIVE EFFECTS OF A TOPICAL MELATONIN SOLUTION IN THE TREATMENT OF AGA IN MEN AND WOMEN WHILE SHOWING GOOD TOLERABILITY: (1) Pharmacodynamics under once-daily topical application in the evening showed no significant influence on endogenous serum melatonin levels. (2) An observational study involving 30 men and women showed a significant reduction in the degree of severity of alopecia after 30 and 90 days (P < 0.001) based on questionnaires completed by investigators and patients. (3) Using a digital software-supported epiluminescence technique (TrichoScan) in 35 men with AGA, after 3 and 6 months in 54.8% to 58.1% of the patients a significant increase of hair density of 29% and 41%, respectively was measured (M0: 123/cm(2); M3: 159/cm(2); M6: 173/cm(2);) (P < 0,001). (4) In 60 men and women with hair loss, a significant reduction in hair loss was observed in women, while hair loss in men remained constant (P < 0.001). (5) In a large, 3-month, multi-center study with more than 1800 volunteers at 200 centers, the percentage of patients with a 2- to 3-fold positive hair-pull test decreased from 61.6% to 7.8%, while the percentage of patients with a negative hair-pull test increased from 12.2.% to 61.5% (P < 0.001). In addition, a decrease in seborrhea and seborrheic dermatitis of the scalp was observed.
Conclusions: Since safety and tolerability in all of the studies was good, the topical application of a cosmetic melatonin solution can be considered as a treatment option in androgenetic alopecia.
Keywords: Androgenetic alopecia; melatonin; seborrhea; seborrheic dermatitis.