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Melatonin & Hair Loss: Is There a Connection?
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Updated on August 25, 2023

There has been much speculation about melatonin hair loss and how it impacts growth. With hair loss affecting up to 40% of men by the age of 35 [1], many are looking for a hair loss solution.

Studies have shown that melatonin has the potential to slow hair loss, and even stimulate hair growth. Research suggests that melatonin may be an effective treatment for female hair loss in particular, with one study finding significant reduction in hair loss following topical melatonin application [2]. Research has established that there are melatonin receptors within human hair follicles. That means follicles can synthesise melatonin, encouraging hair growth [3].

With many people looking for a solution to hair loss, plenty of them will come across information about melatonin and the connection between hair loss & sleep.  Thus it is crucial to know whether it truly does promote hair growth. 

Table of Contents

What Is Melatonin and Can It Be Beneficial?

Melatonin is a hormone that the body produces naturally in the brain’s pineal gland.  Medical melatonin is made synthetically, though natural and synthetic melatonin have identical structures. Patients taking this medication typically take it as a pill or apply a cream or liquid directly to the skin.

Melatonin is a chemical that controls when we sleep and wake up — it governs our body clock. As a result, it is often prescribed for improving sleep. Melatonin can cause daytime drowsiness, so those who have insomnia or other sleep issues may take it in the evening to induce sleep.

The level of melatonin in the blood can vary throughout the day and change with age. Young children have the highest levels whilst the elderly have low levels.

How Does It Work?

Darkness signals to your body that it is time to sleep, causing the pineal gland to produce melatonin. If you are having trouble sleeping, you may suffer from low melatonin levels.

But melatonin appears to have benefits for hair growth as well as sleep. In terms of hair loss, studies suggest melatonin works in two ways. It can help protect hair follicles because it is an antioxidant that fights oxidative stress [3]. It has also been shown to stimulate hair cell growth, at least in in vitro studies [4]. So whilst it isn’t a miracle cure, it does seem to have a positive effect.

A number of studies suggest there is a link between melatonin levels and hair growth. Most studies focus on topical melatonin application. There’s currently little evidence to show whether oral melatonin supplements can reduce hair loss in the same way as topical melatonin. One study found that topical melatonin application could improve hair loss in as little as one month, with 4.5% of study participants seeing new hair growth after 30 days, and 22.5% after 90 days [2].

Can Melatonin Prevent Hair Loss?

The answer to this is mostly no. It can halt hair loss in some cases and encourage growth in others. Research from the International Journal of Trichology concluded that melatonin may work in treating androgenetic alopecia [2]. Having reviewed multiple clinical studies, they concluded that it could be a viable hair growth treatment.

How it works isn’t entirely understood, but most effective studies have examined the efficacy of topical application. It’s important to note that melatonin isn’t a magic solution to hair loss, and more definitive research needs to be done. Different people will have different responses to its use on their hair loss. But it does seem to be an option for an alternative treatment that at least has few side effects.

Should you try melatonin for hair loss?

If you’re concerned about your hair loss, speak to a trichologist. They can help you find out what’s causing your hair loss, and decide whether melatonin is a good treatment option for you.

This is especially important for female hair loss, as it can be more difficult to diagnose. Melatonin may form part of your bespoke female hair loss treatment plan.

There are also potential links between sleep and hair loss, so taking melatonin may help you establish a healthy sleep pattern and also promotes healthy hair.

Whichever treatment you choose, it is essential to take advice to get the right one. The Wimpole Clinic is happy to guide you through the process and discuss all treatments available to you.

Melatonin & Hair Loss: Is There a Connection?, Wimpole Clinic

  1. Men’s Hair Loss | American Hair Loss Association
  2. Topical Melatonin for Treatment of Androgenetic Alopecia
  3. Melatonin: A Cutaneous Perspective on its Production, Metabolism, and Functions
  4. Melatonin as an antioxidant: under promises but over delivers
  5. Fischer, T. W., et al. “Melatonin in low doses enhances in vitro human hair follicle proliferation and inhibits hair growth in high doses.” Arch Derm Res 292 (2000): 147.
Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)
Medically reviewed by Dr. Ismail Ughratdar (FRCS)Updated on August 25, 2023
The Wimpole Clinic offers FUE Hair, Beard & Eyebrow Transplants & Trichology.
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