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Does clobetasol cause hair loss or growth?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Aug 30, 2021.

Official answer


Clobetasol can stimulate hair growth. Regrowth may be noticed as early as six weeks into treatment but may take up to 12 to 14 weeks to occur. In some people, hair regrowth does not persist long-term. Clobetasol should only be used for hair loss associated with inflammatory conditions of the scalp such as alopecia areata, scarring alopecia, psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis. Hair loss or hair thinning may also occur, but this is a very rare side effect and is estimated to occur in only 1 out of every 300 people who use clobetasol. Clobetasol is a potent topical steroid and is not a good option for hair and scalp conditions that are not associated with inflammation.

In one study, 28 patients with alopecia areata totalis (AT) or AT/alopecia universalis applied 2.5g of clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment to the right side of their scalp every night and covered it with plastic film. This was undertaken six days a week for 6 months. 8 patients (28.5%) experienced hair regrowth which began six to 14 weeks after the start of treatment. But hair loss was maintained in only 5 patients (17.8%) long-term.

In another study of 34 patients who used clobetasol foam to treat moderate-to-severe alopecia areata, 89% of people reported hair regrowth compared to 11% of those using a placebo foam. 14 patients had hair regrowth of more than 25%, seven people reported a hair regrowth of greater than 50%, and three people reported a hair regrowth of greater than 75%. The foam was applied twice a day for 5 days per week for 12 weeks, then continued with the treatment if they wanted to up until 24 weeks. Overall, 47% of patients had hair regrowth of greater than 25% after 24 weeks.

  • Tosti A, Piraccini BM, Pazzaglia M, Vincenzi C. Clobetasol propionate 0.05% under occlusion in the treatment of alopecia totalis/universalis. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2003;49(1):96-98. doi:10.1067/mjd.2003.423
  • Tosti A, Iorizzo M, Botta GL, Milani M. Efficacy and safety of a new clobetasol propionate 0.05% foam in alopecia areata: a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2006;20(10):1243-1247. doi:10.1111/j.1468-3083.2006.01781.x

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