A randomized clinical trial of 5% topical minoxidil versus 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of androgenetic alopecia in men


      Background: Topical minoxidil solution 2% stimulates new hair growth and helps stop the loss of hair in individuals with androgenetic alopecia (AGA). Results can be variable, and historical experience suggests that higher concentrations of topical minoxidil may enhance efficacy. Objective: The purpose of this 48-week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, multicenter trial was to compare 5% topical minoxidil with 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in the treatment of men with AGA. Methods: A total of 393 men (18-49 years old) with AGA applied 5% topical minoxidil solution (n = 157), 2% topical minoxidil solution (n = 158), or placebo (vehicle for 5% solution; n = 78) twice daily. Efficacy was evaluated by scalp target area hair counts and patient and investigator assessments of change in scalp coverage and benefit of treatment. Results: After 48 weeks of therapy, 5% topical minoxidil was significantly superior to 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in terms of change from baseline in nonvellus hair count, patient rating of scalp coverage and treatment benefit, and investigator rating of scalp coverage. Hair count data indicate that response to treatment occurred earlier with 5% compared with 2% topical minoxidil. Additionally, data from a patient questionnaire on quality of life, global benefit, hair growth, and hair styling demonstrated that 5% topical minoxidil helped improve patients' psychosocial perceptions of hair loss. An increased occurrence of pruritus and local irritation was observed with 5% topical minoxidil compared with 2% topical minoxidil. Conclusion: In men with AGA, 5% topical minoxidil was clearly superior to 2% topical minoxidil and placebo in increasing hair regrowth, and the magnitude of its effect was marked (45% more hair regrowth than 2% topical minoxidil at week 48). Men who used 5% topical minoxidil also had an earlier response to treatment than those who used 2% topical minoxidil. Psychosocial perceptions of hair loss in men with AGA were also improved. Topical minoxidil (5% and 2%) was well tolerated by the men in this trial without evidence of systemic effects. (J Am Acad Dermatol 2002;47:377-85.)
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