It has been previously reported that topical cidofovir, a well-known antiviral agent, can induce local alopecia. Regarding this issue, Dr. Joy Wan et al have recently published a paper in the Archives of Dermatology with the objective to determine the efficacy and safety of topical cidofovir in preventing beard hair growth in men. To do so the authors enrolled 20 young and healthy men to receive once daily cidofovir, either the 1% or 3% concentration, or placebo, randomly to one or the other side of the face. 4 subjects withdrew during treatment due to reasons unrelated with the study and 16 subjects completed treatment.
The authors documented a negative trend in hair counts within the 3% group compared with placebo (P=.08). Regarding side effects, local skin reactions such as erythema, hyperpigmentation and pruritus were observed, but they did not force stopping therapy and they resolved spontaneously or with little interventions after stopping therapy. Renal and liver function tests were performed without significant anomalies.
In conclusion, Dr. Wan J. and collaborators underline that these preliminary data suggest a dose-response relationship and open the door to study in greater depth optimal treatment doses and duration of therapy. Moreover, topical cidofovir was well tolerated with an acceptable incidence and severity of local skin reactions. Of course the study is limited by the small sample and by the fact that only men were enrolled, but it focuses on a field of growing interest and with thousands of potential users: developing efficacious treatments for unwanted facial hair.