Topical ketoconazole for the treatment of androgenetic alopecia: A systematic review

Dermatol Ther. 2020 Jan;33(1):e13202. doi: 10.1111/dth.13202. Epub 2020 Jan 2.


Androgenetic alopecia (AGA) is common and associated with significant psychosocial distress. Treatment options are needed for patients that do not adequately respond to first line treatments of finasteride or minoxidil. Topical ketoconazole has been proposed as a promising treatment. The goal of this systematic review was to evaluate the efficacy of topical ketoconazole in the treatment of AGA. A systematic literature search was conducted within the MEDLINE database using the key terms "ketoconazole" and "alopecia." Forty-seven papers were screened for inclusion, of which nine were assessed for eligibility. Seven articles were included in the qualitative synthesis, including two animal studies (total of 40 participants) and five human studies (total of 318 participants). Murine studies demonstrated a significant increase in mean ratio of hair regrowth to denuded area in the ketoconazole treatment groups compared to controls. Human studies reported increased hair shaft diameter following ketoconazole use. One study reported a significant increase in pilary index (percent anagen phase × diameter) following treatment. Studies also demonstrated clinical improvement of AGA based on photographic assessment and subjective evaluation. Topical ketoconazole is a promising adjunctive or alternative therapy in the treatment of AGA. Randomized controlled trials are needed.

Keywords: androgenetic alopecia; androgenic alopecia; ketoconazole.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Topical
  • Alopecia / drug therapy*
  • Animals
  • Hair / growth & development*
  • Humans
  • Ketoconazole / administration & dosage*
  • Mice
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Ketoconazole