The effect of Ketoconazole and Piroctone olamine on hair growth

The effect of Ketoconazole and Piroctone olamine on hair growth

Dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis can cause hair loss and thinning hair. It is assumed that dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis (dandruff is a form of seborrheic dermatitis) are caused by a yeast (single cell fungus) on the skin, the Malassezia globose. This is a fungus that occurs only on the scalp.

Often times, the problem will not go away on its own and requires continues treatment. A well-known agent for this is shampoo with Ketoconazole in high concentration. Multiple studies about the effectiveness of this substance have shown that it stimulates hair growth and helps against hereditary hair loss.

Ketoconazole is most well-known, but it is not the only proven anti-dandruff ingredient in shampoos which stimulates hair growth. Piroctone olamine has a similar effect as Ketoconazole. Piroctone olamine is also listed under the brand name 'Octopirox'.

Ketoconazole vs. Piroctone olamine

In a study with 150 men who suffer from hereditary hair loss and dandruff, Ketoconazole and Piroctone olamine were compared*. Excessive secretion of sebum, dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis are often linked with hair loss and hereditary hair loss. The 150 men received a shampoo with 1% Ketoconazole or 1% Piroctone olamine. They had to use this shampoo 2 to 3 times per week for a duration of six months.

All treatments showed a reduction in itching and dandruff after 2 to 6 weeks. If we take a look at the effect of the treatments on various hair growth parameters, we see the following figures (in percentages):

  • The severity of hair loss decreases (Ketoconazole: -17.3%, Piroctone olamine: -16.5%)
  • The percentage of hairs in the growth phase increases (Ketoconazole 4.9%, Piroctone olamine: 7.9%)
  • The effect on the hair diameter is increased by 5.4% with Ketoconazole and by 7.7% with Piroctone olamine.

Thus, the study shows that Piroctone olamine scores better in a number of areas in comparison to Ketoconazole**:

  • Compared to Ketoconazole, Piroctone olamine ensures an increase in the number of hairs in the growth phase (anagen phase) by more than 10% in 33% of people.
  • Piroctone olamine gives 88% of the people thicker hair, despite hereditary hair loss, whereby this is 78% with Ketoconazole.
  • If we take a look at how many people experience a significant increase (more than 10%) of the hair diameter, this is 28% with Ketoconazole and as much as 34% with Piroctone olamine (10% larger diameter means that the hair became 20% heavier).

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Shampoos against dandruff for stimulating hair growth

The above results show that both Ketoconazole and Piroctone olamine have a positive effect on multiple aspects of hair growth. They have a similar effect on itch and dandruff. Piroctone olamine generally scores better when it comes to hair growth.

Thus, the study shows that there is a preference for the use of 1% Piroctone olamine in order to achieve the greatest possible effect on hair growth. 1% Piroctone olamine can be found in the shampoo of Neofollics Hair Technology. In addition to Piroctone olamine, this shampoo contains many more proven effective ingredients, such as Ecklonia cava and Raspberry ketone.

* In this study, Zinc Pyrithione was included, which we will leave out of the picture seeing the minimal results that came forward.
** With the number of subjects that was used, it is not possible to significantly determine the differences between Ketoconazole and Piroctone olamine statistically.


Pierard-Franchimont, C., Goffin, V., Henry, F., Uhoda, I., Braham, C., & Pierard, G.E. (2002). Nudging hair shedding by antidandruff shampoos. A comparison of 1% ketoconazole, 1% Piroctone olamine and 1% zinc pyrithione formulations. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 2002, 24, 249-256.

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