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Does Clobex help hair growth?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Dec 9, 2020.

Official Answer

by Drugs.com

Key Points

Clobetasol propionate, the active ingredient in Clobex Spray 0.05%, has been shown to be effective for alopecia areata, an autoimmune form of hair loss, in both adults and children. Clobex Spray 0.05%, which contains topical clobetasol, is not specifically approved by the FDA for hair regrowth. It is used in adults to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. If you are experiencing hair loss, talk to your doctor for evaluation.

Clobetasol propionate 0.05% is a super-high potent topical corticosteroid. Studies have shown effectiveness for hair regrowth with the cream, foam and ointment dosage forms. Studies using the topical spray formulation are not available. Some formulations of clobetasol propionate, such as the shampoo (Clodan) have also been reported to lead to hair loss.

Alopecia areata is an autoimmune skin condition that leads to patchy hair loss on the scalp. This type of hair loss usually grows back within 12 months or less, even without treatment, but can lead to total hair loss in some patients. Topical corticosteroids may not be as beneficial for people with severe hair loss, and not all patients will have a response to treatment.

Which forms of clobetasol work for hair loss?

Foam

In a research study in adults with moderate-to-severe alopecia areata, participants received clobetasol foam 0.05% (brand name: Olux) compared to a placebo foam over 24 weeks. Foam was applied twice a day for 5 days per week for up to 24 weeks.

  • Overall, greater hair regrowth was observed in 89% of the head sites treated with clobetasol foam vs. 11% in the sites treated with placebo foam at the end of 12 weeks.
  • Side effects were minimal, and no significant changes in cortisol / ACTH blood levels were reported.
  • Folliculitis (hair follicle inflammation or infection) occurred in two patients. This formulation had good patient acceptance and compliance.

Cream

In a study in children between 2 and 15 years of age, topical clobetasol propionate 0.05% cream was compared to hydrocortisone cream 1% as an initial treatment for alopecia areata (at least 10% of the scalp surface area) over a 24-week period.

  • Patients applied a thin layer of cream twice daily to the areas of hair loss for 2 cycles of 6 weeks on, then 6 weeks off, for a total of 24 weeks.
  • Topical clobetasol propionate 0.05% cream was more effective when compared to hydrocortisone cream 1% when used as a first-line treatment.
  • Overall, 17 of 20 children in the clobetasol group (85%) vs. 7 of 21 in the hydrocortisone group (33.3%) had at least a 50% reduction in surface area with hair loss at 24 weeks, a significant effect.
  • Scalp skin atrophy (skin thinning) occurred in one patient which was resolved in 6 weeks.

Ointment

The ointment form of clobetasol propionate 0.05% was shown to be effective in 20% to 25% of patients with alopecia totalis and alopecia universalis, more severe and rare forms of alopecia areata, when used to stimulate hair regrowth.

  • Twenty-eight patients applied 2.5 grams of clobetasol propionate 0.05% ointment to the right side of their scalp six days a week for 6 months and covered it with plastic film.
  • Hair regrowth occurred in 8 patients (28.5%) which began 6 to 14 weeks after the start of treatment.
  • Hair regrowth was maintained for at least 6 months after stopping treatment in 5 of 8 (62.5%) of patients, but only 17.8% of patients showed long-term benefits.
  • Reported side effects included folliculitis, visible broken capillaries in the skin (telangiectases) and skin thinning on the scalp.

The researchers stated in this difficult-to-treat population, treatment should be continued for at least 3 months and retreatment is often needed. However, use of topical clobetasol ointment alone may not be effective for many patients.

The most acceptable forms of corticosteroids for hairy areas include shampoos, creams, lotions, foams and topical solutions or sprays. Patients may find that ointments are not an agreeable dosage form for use in the hair.

Bottom Line

  • Some dosage forms of clobetasol propionate, a super-high potent topical corticosteroid, have been shown to be effective as a treatment option for alopecia areata, an autoimmune form of hair loss, in both adults and children.
  • Clobex Spray 0.05% is not specifically approved by the FDA for hair loss. It is used for the treatment of moderate to severe forms of psoriasis in adults.
  • If you are experiencing hair loss, contact your doctor for an evaluation.

This is not all the information you need to know about Clobex Spray 0.05% for safe and effective use. Review the full Clobex Spray information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.

References
  • Tosti A, Iorizzo M, Botta GL, et al. 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 Nov;20(10):1243-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-3083.2006.01781.x
  • Lenane P, Macarthur C, Parkin PC, et al. Clobetasol Propionate, 0.05%, vs Hydrocortisone, 1%, for Alopecia Areata in Children: A Randomized Clinical Trial . JAMA Dermatol. 2014;150(1):47–50. doi:10.1001/jamadermatol.2013.5764
  • Tosti A, Piraccini BM, Pazzaglia M, et al. 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
  • Clobex (clobetasol propionate) Spray 0.05% product monograph. Drugs.com. https://www.drugs.com/pro/clobex.html#s-43678-2

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