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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.
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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 treatment that'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.  (Related: 6 Home Remedies for Yeast Infections That You Should Never Try)

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. (Related: The Healthy Scalp Tips You Need for the Best Hair of Your Life)

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." (Related: Dandruff vs. Dry Scalp: Is There a Difference?)

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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