What is minoxidil?
Minoxidil was the first drug approved by the FDA for the treatment of androgenetic hair loss (pattern baldness). Minoxidil was originally used as an oral pill to treat high blood pressure. One of the noted side effects was hair growth and reversal of patterned baldness. However, taking minoxidil in a pill form had many other side effects that made it impractical to take for the treatment of baldness. In the 1980’s a topical formulation of Minoxidil was developed, with the sole intention of treating genetic hair loss. It is available in two strengths – 2% and 5%, and is applied to the scalp as a lotion or a foam twice a day.
How does it work?
It is not known exactly how Minoxidil works! Minoxidil stimulates hair growth in individuals with male & female patterned baldness. We do know it does not affect the levels of DHT, which is also how Finasteride (another hair loss treatment) works.
Who is a good candidate for minoxidil?
The perfect candidate for Minoxidil is a someone who is beginning to thin in the vertex and crown area of the scalp. A confirmation that it is genetical hair loss as opposed to another type of hair loss by a trichologist or dermatologist will maximise the chances of the treatment working. Unfortunately it is impossible to predict who will get good results and who will not.
Is 5% minoxidil more effective than 2% minoxidil?
Yes, it is much more effective. Minoxidil is dose-dependent. The higher the dose of Minoxidil, the better the results. Using 5% Minoxidil does not give you faster results, but will cause the regrowth of more hair and thicker hair. The 5% Minoxidil solution can cause more skin irritation than the 2% solution, and it is usually only recommended for use by men.
Is topical minoxidil safe to use?
Topical Minoxidil has an excellent safety record. The most common side effects are itching and skin irritation of the treated scalp. Unwanted hair growth may occur in areas adjacent to treatment sites, which can be little distressing to women when the face is involved, which is why the 2% solution is usually the first option.
Can both men and women use minoxidil?
Yes it produces significant hair growth in both men and women.
Does minoxidil only work in the vertex/crown area of the scalp?
Minoxidil works best in the vertex area, but several patients have had increased hair growth in the front part of the scalp.
Can minoxidil help maintain my hair?
Many patients maintain their hair while on minoxidil, even if there is no significant new growth. Unfortunately, many patients find this out once they stop minoxidil and then have a significant amount of hair loss.
Who should not take minoxidil?
Patients with a history of hypersensitivity to any of the component of the preparation, including alcohol solution.
It is not recommended during pregnancy.
How long will it take for minoxidil to work?
Increased hair growth has been seen from as early as 2 months into treatment, but usually the full benefit from Minoxidil is not seen for at lease 6-8 months. It can be difficult in the first few months for patients to persist with treatment when they are not seeing immediate results, however in more cases than not it is usually worth the wait.
How long do I have to continue taking minoxidil?
Minoxidil is a management based treatment for hair loss and not a cure. You need to take Minoxidil for as long as you want to continue to benefit from its use. If you stop taking Minoxidil, you will likely lose any hair you have gained within months of stopping treatment.
Does topical Minoxidil interact with other medications?
There are currently no known drug interactions associated with the use of topical Minoxidil solutions.
Can I use Minoxidil more than twice a day, and will it work better?
You can use it more than twice a day and there are many patients and physicians who think it works better when it is used more than twice a day. However, by increasing the frequency it increases the side effects and cost.