By Dr Jeff Donovan, Canadian Hair Loss Foundation
Minoxidil helps front and back
Early studies showed that minoxidil helps with hair loss in the crown (top) for men but may help hair loss in the front and temples in men as well.
Minoxidil is a topical medication that is FDA approved for treating genetic hair loss (sometimes referred to as androgenetic alopecia). If you look at a bottle of minoxidil it will state that it is to be used for hair loss in the crown in men and may not benefit other areas of hair loss. The original studies of minoxidil focused on the crown and did not address the benefit in the front of the scalp.
So an important question is:
Does minoxidil help men with hair loss in the front of the scalp or not?
The answer is yes. Many hair loss specialists around the world have witnessed benefit to minoxidil in the front of the scalp in balding men. However, the companies which produce minoxidil are not setting out to formally prove the benefit in the front of the scalp and are not seeking approval from health regulatory authorities to be able to change the labelling on the bottles to indicate that it "works in the front and back."
New study shows 5 % minoxidil benefits men with hair loss in the temples
A study was presented by Dr. Blume Peytavi and colleagues from Berlin, Germany at the 2013 meeting of the World Congress of Dermatology. They studied 70 men with moderate genetic hair loss and studied whether minoxidil 5 % foam could help hair loss in the crown and in the front. The German group showed that men using minoxidil 5 % foam did obtain benefit from using the medication in the front and in the crown. This was one of the very first studies showing the minoxidil foam benefits hair loss in the front.
Minoxidil has long been understood to benefit men with hair loss in the crown. Accumulating evidence suggests it also benefits men with hair loss in the front (temples). More studies are needed to determine just 'how much' it helps men with hair loss in the front. In general, minoxidil seems to work better in the earliest stages of hair loss - as hairs are thinning and miniaturizing.
Hillman K, Bartels GN, Stroux A, Canfield D, and Blume-Peytavi U. Investigator-initiated double blind, two-armed, placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial with an open -label extension phase, to investigate efficacy of 5 % Minoxidil topical foam twice daily in men with androgenetic alopecia in the fronto-temporal and vertex region concerning hair volume over 24/52 weeks. Poster at: World Congress of Hair Research, Edinburgh Scotland May 2013
Hillman K et al. A Single-Centre, Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial to Investigate the Efficacy and Safety of Minoxidil Topical Foam in Frontotemporal and Vertex Androgenetic Alopecia in Men. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2015;28:236-244.