We know that Bimatoprost can help with the thickness and growth of your eyelashes. But, can this enhanced growth also extend to the hair on your scalp to help with situations like male pattern hair loss or female pattern hair loss?
Below, we will outline what Bimatoprost is, the current FDA-approved usages and brand names for this medication, what we know so far about Bimatoprost and hair on the scalp, and the potential downsides of this medication for use on the head.
Bimatoprost is in a group of medications called prostaglandin analogs. Bimatoprost was first released on the market in a 0.03% ophthalmic solution in 2001 under the brand name Lumigan and was used for treating glaucoma. These drops helped release the interocular pressure in the eye and reduced glaucoma symptoms. Later, another formulation of Lumigan with a lower concentration of Bimatoprost (0.01%) was also released.
After Bimatoprost was on the market for a while for glaucoma, patients started noticing a little benefit alongside their reduced intraocular pressure -- longer, thicker, fuller, and darker eyelashes.
This led to the release of Bimatoprost in a formulation FDA-approved for eyelash growth in 2008, under the brand name Latisse which contains 0.03% Bimatoprost. This also was the very first medication to ever be FDA-approved for the indication of eyelash growth promotion.
The most common side effects for Latisse used for eyelash growth are eye redness, eye itchiness, and darkened skin around the eye area which goes away once the medication is stopped.
Another potential side effect when using Latisse around the eye area is a darkening of your eye color. And, although this may happen in less than 1% of users, eye color changes may be permanent. The eye color change is normally from lighter colored eyes like green or hazel, to a more brown color. This happens due to the normal melanin granules in the eye expanding. Brown eyes have the most melanin to begin with, hazel and green eyes have some amount of melanin, and blue eyes have the least amount of melanin.
Currently, the only two FDA-approved indications for Bimatoprost are for glaucoma (under the brand name Lumigan, 0.03%, 0.01%), and eyelash growth (under the brand name Latisse, 0.03%).
Even though the great discovery of eyelash growth promotion does seem promising for potential hair growth promotion on other parts of the head, Bimatoprost is not currently FDA-approved for use on the scalp for the indication of hair loss or increased scalp hair growth.
Eyelash hair follicles are a little different than the hairs on the scalp, since they tend to be in different growth stage proportions than scalp hair. Eyelashes tend to be in the telogen, or resting phase, in higher ratios than scalp hair, of which 80-90% may be in the anagen (growth phase) at any given time.
Also, eyelash hairs and follicles are very specialized and unfazed by some of the same issues that affect scalp hairs, like damage from DHT (which is a known culprit in hair loss with androgenetic alopecia).
So, researchers were unsure if the same growth benefits seen in eyelashes would also be seen for hair on the scalp.
A few studies have been done trying to find out if there may be some benefits to scalp hair through using Bimatoprost.
In one study, researchers tried two different ways of measuring benefits from Bimatoprost. In one, they set up a scalp follicle culture on a dish to see if Bimatoprost could induce faster hair synthesis of hair strands. In the other, they shave some mice and then applied Bimatoprost to the shaved areas to measure regrowth in vivo. Both versions of this test were compared to controls that contained just the vehicle, but no active ingredients. In both of these experiments, after 42 days, Bimatoprost lead to faster hair growth or synthesis than the vehicle control groups.
One review study discussed the potential role that Bimatoprost might play in androgenetic alopecia (male pattern and female pattern hair loss) in the future, and states that “Bimatoprost will likely be the third FDA approved weapon in the fight against hair loss.” The first and second FDA-approved agents are Minoxidil and Finasteride, currently.
Another pilot study looked into how Bimatoprost may work when tested head to head against a common corticosteroid treatment (mometasone furoate) for autoimmune alopecia areata hair loss. 30 patients with patchy alopecia areata hair loss were randomly assigned to apply either Bimatoprost twice daily or mometasone furoate once daily to two hair loss patches for three weeks. After 3 weeks, the improvements were gauged using a Severity Of Alopecia Tool (SALT) scoring system. At the end of three weeks, all responding patches showed improvement, but the patches that had Bimatoprost applied had significantly better time response, regrowth percentage, and fewer side effects.
One of the downsides to using Bimatoprost as a treatment for hair loss, is that once the treatment is stopped, the hair loss is likely to return to its previous stage.
Also, if you are dealing with androgenetic alopecia hair loss, which is a hormonal and genetic situation, Bimatoprost does not address the root cause of follicular damage which is the DHT hormone.
Another issue that may put people off from trying Bimatoprost as a hair loss treatment is that it is not currently approved for use on the scalp hair. So, you would need to get this prescribed off-label from a doctor, and then also likely need to find a pharmacy that can make this into a topical cream for you, if you did not want to use a watery solution.
Bimatoprost is still in the early stages of figuring out just how well this can work for hair loss on the scalp, as well as which types of hair loss may benefit the most from it, the best dosages for hair loss, and what application route makes the most sense. But, the results that we currently have are promising, and it is unlikely that questions and studies about Bimatoprost for hair loss are going to go away anytime soon.
Most cases of hair loss occur due to androgenetic alopecia, which is also known as male pattern hair loss and female pattern hair loss.
This type of hair loss is due to your genetics as well as a sensitivity to the hormone DHT.
Currently, there is an FDA-approved medication called Finasteride that helps reduce the amount of DHT that is produced in your scalp, to help maintain your current hair and potentially encourage regrowth.
The other FDA-approved medication for hair loss is Minoxidil, which is the active ingredient in Rogaine. The exact mechanism of how Minoxidil helps to promote hair growth is not fully understood, but it may have to do with increasing blood flow to the scalp.
At Strut, we carry oral and topical formulations of Finasteride or Dutasteride for men who want to do something about the hormonal aspects of male pattern hair loss. Our topical Finasteride or Dutasteride formulations also contain Minoxidil, for a two-pronged approach to hair loss.
For women, we formulated a topical androgen-reducing hair loss treatment with Minoxidil and Spironolactone, which is an anti-androgen medication that is safe for women to use.
If you are interested in seeing if a prescription treatment is the right fit for your hair loss, you can have a free online questionnaire and image-based consultation with our U.S. licensed doctors today. If you are a good candidate for treatment, your medication will be shipped to your front door with our free shipping.