There is one thing that you learn very quickly when you start researching how to beat hair loss: that everyone is different.
It can seem very unfair at times. Some people regrow their hair completely using only one treatment while others will use five different treatments and get no results whatsoever. The unfortunate reality that you will have to face is that you may or may not respond well to treatments. But if you don’t, why give up and go bald?
There are many different treatment options available, including many that you may have not heard of. There are the popular treatments like finasteride and minoxidil that almost anyone who is losing their hair has used, and there are also those that are not FDA approved. The problem with these treatments is that since they are not FDA approved they are not regulated, meaning that you cannot be 100% certain that they work. But again, everyone responds differently to different treatments and if the FDA approved options do not work it may be worth trying an alternative. Who knows, it could end up saving your hair.
In this article we are going to take a look at an alternative treatment called cetirizine. By evaluating current research and scientific studies we hope to educate you on what cetirizine is, how it affects hair loss, and if it may or may not be a viable option for you. So let’s get started.
What is cetirizine?
Cetirizine is not directed to be used as a hair loss medication, it is actually an antihistamine. Essentially, an antihistamine works to, you guessed it, block histamine: a chemical compound that causes allergy symptoms. In short, cetirizine is an allergy reliever.
It is commonly sold under the name “Zyrtec”, which is a well-known brand for allergy medication. What people don’t know? It may be able to help people suffering from hair loss as well.
How does cetirizine affect hair loss?
The proposed mechanism by which cetirizine combats hair loss is by inhibiting prostaglandin D2 (PGD2).
PGD2 is just a type of prostaglandin. A prostaglandin is a hormone-like substance that helps relax smooth muscle, dilate and constrict blood vessels, modulate inflammation and more.
It has been shown that there are elevated levels of PGD2 in balding men’s scalps, specifically in problem areas (i.e. temples and crown), which suggests that it may play a role in hair loss. It was also discovered that PGD2 increases right before the regression phase of the hair cycle, meaning PGD2 levels spike right before hair loss occurs. Also, interestingly scientists found that increasing PGD2 in mice induced hair follicle miniaturization.
Even though these are noteworthy discoveries, it is still unclear to the scientific community exactly how PGD2 affects hair loss. Though it is commonly theorized that is has an inhibitory effect on hair growth, which may explain how it causes miniaturization.
These were all findings from initial studies on PGD2. They prompted scientists to begin conducting clinical trials a few years back. Unfortunately, those studies are still ongoing and have not reported anything conclusive. This may raise questions and could mean that the results are insignificant, though we still need to wait for the results to be published.
Although the most commonly theorized mechanism by which cetirizine affects hair loss is by inhibiting PGD2, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties. This may be significant as inflammation has been linked to hair loss, but there is currently no research on this.
How effective is cetirizine?
As far as scientific evidence goes, there is an extremely limited amount studying cetirizine’s effect on hair loss.
One study compared topical cetirizine to a placebo. 67 participants were given cetirizine and the other 18 were administered the placebo. The study found that the main effect of cetirizine was that it increased terminal hair density. Unfortunately, it was also discovered that it had a negative effect on vellus hair density.
That is the only study that has been completed regarding cetirizine for hair loss.
Although there is a very interesting study that is currently taking place. It is directly comparing 5% minoxidil to 1% topical cetirizine’s effects on androgenic alopecia. If this study were to find conclusive evidence that topical cetirizine is equally as, or more effective than minoxidil, it would certainly warrant further investigation from scientists. This is a study that will likely have the hair loss community’s attention as the results unfold.
There is a lack of anecdotal evidence surrounding cetirizine as well. Normally, if a lesser known hair loss treatment, especially one that is available over-the-counter, is effective you will be able to find success stories and read about it on hair loss forums. But there is a substantial lack of success stories, in fact there are several reports of people who have had negative experiences using cetirizine. This is a red flag.
In conclusion, it cetirizine worth trying for hair loss?
Using cetirizine for hair loss is likely not worth it based on current research, here’s why.
First of all, since research is still extremely limited, cetirizine is still manufactured as an anti-allergy medication, meaning that there is only the oral version available. Topical cetirizine is what has shown promise in research, which means that you would have to make your own topical formulation. There is no standard formula that has been proven to be most effective and if you were to make your own it could lead to inconsistent results and possibly adverse side effects.
Secondly, the research surrounding cetirizine for hair loss is extremely limited. Although it was found that there are elevated levels of PGD2 is balding scalps, the clinical trials on PGD2 inhibition are incomplete and scientists still do not fully understand its role in hair loss.
Not only do scientists not understand the proposed mechanism that cetirizine inhibits, but there has only been one study completed studying its effects on hair loss. Although the results were positive, there needs to be much more research done.
Lastly, the lack of anecdotal evidence supporting cetirizine is a huge red flag and the negative experiences people have shared only compound onto that. Of course, scientific research is always the most authoritative, but in the case of hair loss, it is very important to pay attention to the communities experiences as a whole.
Overall, it would be best to look elsewhere for treatment options until more research becomes available. Check out ourblogfor ideas.