Zyrtec For Hair, Not Just For Air

Dr. Melissa Toyos is an oculofacial surgeon specializing in FUE (follicular unit extraction) hair and eyebrow transplantation, CO2 facial resurfacing, and sculpting faces with injectables. A summa cum laude graduate and board-certified Ophthalmologist, she is a partner at Toyos Clinic and formerly was a partner at one of the largest eye care practices in the country. Dr. Toyos is a national researcher and lecturer. She trains other doctors on surgical techniques as well as cosmetic procedures. Her clinical research has been instrumental in many FDA approvals. She is the former President of the Missouri Society of Eye Physicians and Surgeons. She has held various leadership positions with the AAO. Dr. Toyos has served as a mentor to young female surgeons, helping them understand how to balance a career and motherhood. 

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We’re in the heart of allergy season, flowers are blooming, trees are budding, noses are running and eyes are red and swollen. You might be using Zyrtec or Allegra to help with your hay fever, but did you know that they can also improve hair loss? Here Haute Beauty expert Dr. Melissa Toyos dives into how Zyrtec works cross-functionally.

A recent pilot study showed that the medication in Zyrtec (cetirizine) applied topically to areas of the scalp with hair thinning or loss, can result in increased hair density, terminal (thick, coarse hair versus thinner, finer hairs) hair density, and in hair diameter. An earlier study saw benefits in patients with autoimmune hair loss taking over-the-counter Allegra by mouth twice daily.

Do antihistamines work for hair loss? And how do they work?

Part of the process of hair thinning is inflammatory with certain cells surrounding and attacking the hair follicle causing it to thin or even die if left unchecked. Antihistamines block one aspect of the inflammatory cycle as well as a specific prostaglandin pathway known to be associated with baldness.

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Can I just take over-the-counter Zyrtec or Allegra?

These medications haven’t been formally approved by the FDA for hair loss and because they are already mainstream, large-scale, expensive studies to prove their effectiveness are unlikely to occur. The current study looked only at topical liquid cetirizine. Topical cetirizine can be prescribed by your doctor and is available in our compounded Rogaine Plus formula at Toyos Clinic. There is one prescription formula in the U.S. for topical cetirizine, Zerviate, which is currently approved for allergic conjunctivitis. Topical formulations tend to be preferred as they deliver medication directly to the area of interest with a lesser risk of systemic side effects.

Is Zyrtec for hair loss a magic bullet?

No, it is unlikely to be the best stand-alone treatment for hair shedding and loss, but it is likely to be an important part of our armamentarium for patients suffering from hair loss related to aging. Minoxidil and finasteride remain the only two medications approved for hair loss in the US, but Zyrtec (cetirizine) is likely to find a home as an effective adjunctive therapy in combination with topical and oral medications and even surgical solutions like SmartGraft and FUE hair transplant procedure.

Allergy season can be rough, but it doesn’t have to be all bad. Just think, you might be heading into the summer with better hair! Call for your free hair consultation at Toyos Clinic Hair Restoration at 901.800.6638 in Nashville, New York City, Memphis and online.

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