What Is Monistat?
Monistat is the brand name for the drug miconazole, a common treatment for vaginal yeast infections. Belonging to a class of antifungals known as imidazoles, Monistat works by inhibiting the growth of yeasts known to cause infections in the vagina.
Monistat is available in the form of a vaginal suppository and a cream. The suppositories are available in a one-time dose (Monistat 1) and three-day dose used once a day before bed (Monistat 3). Monistat 7 is the vaginal cream form designed to be applied once every night for seven days.1
Read next: How to Choose the Best DHT Blocking Shampoo
While Monistat is an effective over-the-counter treatment for vaginal yeast infections, more people have begun using Monistat for hair growth. Applying Monistat on the scalp for hair growth may seem like a long shot, but it may actually have some potential. Read on to learn more.
How Monistat Affects Hair Growth
The main active ingredient in Monistat is miconazole nitrate, an effective antifungal agent. As an antifungal, miconazole may help to control certain forms of fungal scalp infections, particularly seborrheic dermatitis. Seborrheic dermatitis often contributes to dandruff, scaly patches, and a dry scalp, all of which may contribute to inflammation, irritation, and potential hair loss. This condition is associated with a fungus known as malasezzia, which is generally treated with creams to reduce inflammation and with antifungal medications.2
However, the main reason that many have turned to Monistat for hair growth is that miconazole shares a similar structure with another antifungal known as ketoconazole.3
Ketoconazole and Androgenic Alopecia
Androgenic alopecia, commonly known as male or female pattern baldness, is a type of hair loss characterized by hormonal fluctuations. This particularly comes as a result of high DHT levels. Too much DHT causes hair follicles to shrink, which extends the hair’s resting phase while shortening the growth phase, resulting in thinning hair and eventually bald spots.4
While ketoconazole is primarily an antifungal medication prescribed for nail and skin conditions, some initial studies have shown that ketoconazole may act as an effective solution for androgenetic alopecia. In a long-term study comparing the use of ketoconazole to a 2% minoxidil solution, results found that ketoconazole showed similar improvements to hair density, hair size, and proportion of anagen follicles as minoxidil. This suggests that ketoconazole may be as effective as 2% minoxidil in reducing symptoms of androgenic alopecia.5
In a mouse study, researchers evaluated the effects of topical ketoconazole solution 2%, minoxidil solution 5%, minoxidil with tretinoin solution 0.1%, and an ethanol control solution on mice. Solutions were applied once per day for a period of three weeks. Researchers evaluated photographs and calculated the ratio of regrown coat areas. While the results showed that minoxidil on its own was the most effective treatment, ketoconazole was still shown to have a statistically significant stimulatory effect on hair growth compared to the control solution.6
Further study is necessary to understand the exact mechanisms of action. One study showed evidence that ketoconazole shampoo may present a local disruption of DHT pathways, potentially allowing it to inhibit DHT and regulate hormone levels. The study goes further to suggest that ketoconazole may work well as an adjunct to finasteride (an FDA-approved DHT blocking ingredient) to more effectively block DHT, support hair growth, and treat androgenic alopecia.7
How to Use Monistat for Hair Growth
Although miconazole may have some potential in promoting hair growth, there are currently no clinical trials or studies testing this ingredient’s effectiveness on hair growth or androgenic alopecia. In theory and based on anecdotal evidence, miconazole may have some potential effect on your hair, but sharing a similar structure with ketoconazole does not guarantee that it will work in the same way.
If you still want to try, which Monistat is best for hair growth? Monistat 7, the cream form of the medication, is the main type that people have tried on their scalps.
Monistat for Hair Growth Side Effects
Although Monistat is generally considered safe, any off-label use can come with potential side effects. Remember, this medication is indicated for yeast infections, not hair growth, and the lack of clinical trials means there is no full understanding of its potential side effects on the scalp. Side effects for traditional Monistat use include:
- Burning sensation8
Some anecdotal evidence from women who have used Monistat for hair growth suggests that it may cause headaches, burning, and discomfort in the scalp. Children under the age of 12 and women who are on the blood thinner Warfarin should not use miconazole.8
While Monistat for hair growth has become popular, there are currently no clinical tests to prove that Monistat or its active ingredients have any effect on hair loss, and it is not recommended for hair regrowth by any experts. Instead of Monistat for hair growth, consider using a shampoo with ketoconazole like DrFormulas® HairOmega® shampoo.