Diclofenac Gel for Hair Loss: How it Works - nicehair.org

Diclofenac Gel for Hair Loss: How it Works

Diclofenac is the active ingredient in Voltarol anti-inflammatory gel, so it’s not surprising to me that when applied to the scalp of balding men, it triggers new hair growth by reducing inflammation (a key cause of male pattern baldness).

Three male patients were visited in the Dermatology department and received treatment with topical 3% di-clofenac gel because of scalp AK. All patients also had concomitant androgenetic alopecia (AGA). During the follow-up visits, patients presented terminal hair growth on non-prior haired areas of the scalp. To the authors’ best knowledge, these are the first reported cases of hair growth due to topical diclofenac treatment. Conclusions: AGA is a heritable, androgen-dependent process. Various hypotheses proposed to explain its causes. Authors hypothesized that the inhibition of the COX-2 shown by diclofenac might act over the perifollicular micro-inflammation and the prostaglandins misbalance observed in the AGA, leading to hair growth. This finding may open further research lines to develop new treatments for AGA.
Research Gate


A doctor was treating patients who had dry scaly skin on their scalps. They were all bald men. He prescribed them Di-clofenac Gel for the dry skin. Diclofenac Gel is an anti-inflammatory. Several months later the patients came back and the doctor noticed new hair growth on their scalps.

Diclofenac Gel is a topical nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID). It is primarily used to relieve pain and reduce inflammation in the affected area. The gel is applied directly to the skin, allowing the active ingredient to penetrate the skin and target the inflamed tissues beneath.

It’s likely the anti-inflammatory effect is what’s making the hair regrow. Very few people know this but inflammation in the scalp is actually one of the main reasons for hair loss. See Explaining hair loss caused by inflamamtion.

How exactly does it work?

Diclofenac works by inhibiting the activity of an enzyme called cyclooxygenase (COX). This enzyme is responsible for the production of prostaglandins, which are chemicals that play a key role in inflammation, pain, and fever. By blocking the action of COX, diclofenac reduces the production of prostaglandins, leading to anti-inflammatory, analgesic (pain-relieving), and antipyretic (fever-reducing) effects.

To understabd how and why this can increase hair growth read Increase Scalp PGE2 (and Decrease PGD2): The Cure for Hair Loss?

There are two main isoforms of cyclooxygenase, COX-1 and COX-2. COX-1 is constitutively expressed and helps maintain various normal physiological functions, including protecting the stomach lining and regulating kidney function. COX-2, on the other hand, is primarily induced during inflammation and plays a significant role in promoting pain and inflammation at the site of injury or inflammation.

Diclofenac is a non-selective COX inhibitor, meaning it inhibits both COX-1 and COX-2 enzymes. This is why diclofenac can effectively reduce inflammation and pain but may also have potential side effects on the gastrointestinal system, as COX-1 plays a protective role in the stomach lining.