Why On Earth Are People Using Monistat for Hair Growth?

Some people have started using Monistat as a beauty product, saying it can encourage hair growth. Find out if there's any logic to the use case, and a dermatologist's take on whether it's actually worth trying.

Photo: Unsplash / @ataheri

Chances are the only time you've paid a visit to your local drugstore for a tube of Monistat, it was because your vagina was being a bit temperamental. However, some people swear the popular yeast infection and antifungal treatment may have the capabilities to do more than just relieve vaginal itching and burning. Using Monistat for hair growth is a topic that's taken off on social media, but (spoiler!) using it as a scalp treatment may do more harm than good, according to experts.

What Is Monistat?

ICYDK, Monistat-7 is a popular treatmentthat's FDA-approved to cure yeast infections and relieve their accompanying symptoms. (Monistat-7 is a less-concentrated formula than Monistat-1 or Monistat-3, and all three are available over the counter.) "Monistat contains an antifungal ingredient called miconazole," says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., board-certified dermatologist. "It lowers levels of fungus on the skin, explaining its effectiveness in treating vaginal yeast infections." Those fungus-fighting abilities aren't limited to the skin on your vagina, which is why some people are improvising and applying it to their scalps. (

Why Trying Monistat for Hair Growth Is a Thing

But what does all this have to do with hair health? There is some (limited) research suggesting Monistat may be useful in treating thinning hair and dandruff. One study found that a topical antifungal treatment containing miconazole seemed to have seborrheic dermatitis-fighting effects on par with steroid treatments. Some medical experts believe seborrheic dermatitis may result from an overgrowth of a type of yeast called Malassezia. By lowering levels of the dandruff-causing yeast on the skin, Monistat is thought to both reduce flaking and scalp inflammation, which can lead to scratching — damaging the follicle and triggering thinning. "[Using Monistat] can create an environment that encourages optimal functioning of hair follicles," says Dr. Zeichner.

Judging solely by social media, using Monistat on the scalp seems to be most popular among those with natural, curly hair. That could be because people with more textured hair often go longer between washes, due to having a naturally more dehydrated hair shaft. Washing your hair with less frequency can lead to a build-up of product residue that can cause seborrheic dermatitis.

Potential Side Effects of Using Monistat for Hair Regrowth

So what might happen if you do decide to use Monistat for your hair? In short, you may end up doing more harm than good. Use of the product can not only result in clogged pores, but also rashes, scalp irritation, and even worsened hair loss, according to Dr. Zeichner. "It's important to choose the right vehicle for the right location," he explains. "Using a heavy cream in the scalp can be a challenge because it can get stuck between the hair and be difficult to get into the scalp itself where it needs to go." It's worth noting that Monistat contains mineral oil, which can be heavy, he adds. That means using the thick cream on your scalp could actually clog pores, which may end up completely impeding the hair follicle and hair growth.

What's more, before you decide to put globs of this particular antifungal cream on your head, know that there's also a lack of scientific evidence to show that this application actually really does work to encourage hair growth, says Dr. Zeichner. "There are certainly better products formulated specifically for the scalp and hair," he insists. Stick to traditional dandruff shampoos which contain zinc pyrithione, an FDA-cleared ingredient shown to be effective at treating dandruff, which also has antifungal properties. "Those will thoroughly wash your hair and be effective in treating dandruff and reducing inflammation," says Dr. Zeichner. "Just make sure you rub it into the scalp and let it sit while you sing happy birthday [aka wait a few minutes] before rinsing it off. This gives it enough contact time on the skin for it to exert its full effect." (

So, sorry to be the bearer of bad news here, but while Monistat-7 may be undefeated when it comes to matters of the vagina, when it comes to your scalp, there are several other treatments out there that will serve you better. Here are five zinc pyrithione shampoos that reviewers have been loving.

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Redken Scalp Relief Dandruff Control Shampoo

Redken Scalp Relief Pyrithione Zinc Dandruff Shampoo

With 1% zinc pyrithione (shampoo formulas can range from .3 to 2 percent concentration), this pH-balanced formula clarifies the scalp to address excess build-up and relieves itchiness.

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Head & Shoulders Royal Oils Moisture Boost Shampoo

Head and Shoulders Royal Oils Moisture Boost Shampoo

Made especially for those with relaxed or natural coily or kinky hair, this Head & Shoulders shampoo is popular with Amazon customers. It's formulated to prevent dry scalp with the help of coconut oil.

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Biolage Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

Biolage Scalpsync Anti-Dandruff Shampoo

This dandruff-fighting shampoo combines zinc pyrithione and salicylic acid, another tried and true anti-dandruff ingredient that can help soften build-up and allow you to rinse it away.

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Selsun Naturals Blue Itchy Dry Scalp Antidandruff Shampoo

Selsun Blue Naturals Itchy Dry Scalp Shampoo

Designed to be gentle enough for daily use, this Selsun Blue shampoo contains three percent salicylic acid and vitamins B5 and E which both offer moisturizing benefits.

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DHS Zinc Shampoo

DHS Zinc Shampoo

Designed to cleanse the scalp and manage dandruff symptoms without feeling overly harsh, this DHS shampoo has earned an impressive 4.77-star rating on Dermstore.

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