London: Shaving could soon be a thing of the past, say scientists who claim to have developed a rub-on gel which could keep men stubble-free.
A team at the University of Pennsylvania says that early results from the experimental gel has showed it stops beards from growing - in fact, it could also be applied to remove unwanted hair from women's legs.
The daily rub-on gel is made from a drug called cidofovir, which has been around for more than a decade and is widely used in high doses in the treatment of AIDS. Doctors, however, found that the drug caused alopecia - or lack of hair growth - the faces of men who had it injected.
Circa 1715, Captain Edward Teach (1680 - 1718), better known as Blackbeard, a pirate who plundered the coasts of the West Indies, North Carolina and Virginia. His hair is woven with flaming fuses to increase his fearsome appearance. (Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
In their latest research, the scientists were interested to see if a gel made with different concentrations of the drug - either one per cent or three per cent - could stop hair growth completely, the Daily Mail reported.
A group of 16 men, who grew beards that were classed as either dense or very dense, were recruited. Each was given either the one per cent strength gel or the three per cent gel to rub on a small circle on one side of the face every day.
On the other side they used an identical looking dummy gel with no drug in it.
The men were told to carry on shaving every day but to stop 48 hours before their scheduled visit to the clinic for assessment, so the effects on hair growth could be examined.
The results, published in the Archives of Dermatology journal, showed little effect using the one per cent mixture but a significant reduction in hair growth where the three per cent gel was used.
In fact, the trial showed that the product kept facial hair at bay for up to six weeks, say the scientists, who claim that further trials need to be carried out.
"The three per cent drug concentration may be promising for preventing hair growth. It was safe and well tolerated. But, we did not observe total alopecia (hair loss) as was previously reported and the treatment dose and duration may have been insufficient to trigger this effect.
"Further trials evaluating higher concentrations and longer treatment durations are warranted," they say.